Recipes for Gift Guide

Gift Guide 2017: Pick a Peck of Pepper

December 11, 2017

You obsess about salt.  You have, in fact, an entire wardrobe of salts, from flaky to coarse to pink, black and smoked.  Admit it.  You’ve even got salt in a a variety of colors.

But what about pepper?  It’s the most-used spice in the world – and few people give it the respect it deserves.

Time for a change.

I love this pepper:

which is sourced from small farmers in India.  Larger than the peppercorns you’re accustomed to, these Tellicherry peppercorns have  a fine, rich, robust fragrance.  Any cook would be grateful.

And while you’re gifting pepper, why not a mill as well? My favorite peppermill – the giant (7 1/2 inches tall)  Perfex which I use every day – is inexplicably hard to find.

After much Googling around I found it here:

But that’s a kitchen mill. For the table, I’m very fond of this Magnus Mill, sold by the Reluctant Kitchen Trader who also sell the peppercorns:

but – in the interest of fairness I have to admit that next time I buy one, I’m investing in the wooden version.  Some clumsy person (me), dropped mine, shattering the porcelain.

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The Least Sexy – But Most Useful – Kitchen Utensil

December 9, 2017

“I love your vintage dough scraper,” a friend said to me recently.

“Vintage?” I replied, puzzled.

“Yes,” she said, “I can tell by the rivets that it’s really old.”

It was one of those moments; I’ve had this particular utensil for at least fifty years – so I guess that makes it vintage.

But it made me take a serious look at this humble little utensil, made me realize that I use it – have used it – at least once a day during all that time. I’m always reaching for it.  Not just to scrape dough off the counter after rolling out pie dough, but also to transfer vegetables from the cutting board, clean off the pizza steel, scrape spills off the oven floor…  I pay no attention to my dough scraper, but I use it as often as I use my knife.

And so, I went looking for a beauty.  And I found it here – hand-made, probably too expensive, but hey – if it’s going to last for the next fifty years or so, why not have one with a rosewood handle? It’s less than a dollar a year.

And if you want a cheaper version, there’s always this one.



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Gift Guide 2017: For Caviar Lovers

December 8, 2017

Salmon roe is the perfect poor man’s caviar: it gives you all the salty satisfaction, along with the pop and that gorgeous color – and it doesn’t cost a fortune.  Happily this is the season.

There are many sources, but my favorite is the salmon roe they sell at Zabars, which has a fantastically clean quality. Anyone who brought some would be very welcome at my house.

I like salmon roe by the spoonful – alone or with a splash of lemon and a dollop of sour cream. It’s great on deviled eggs. It makes crackers sing.  But my favorite vehicle for red caviar are blini.

Here’ a recipe you can tuck into the package.

Buckwheat Blini

1 cup whole milk

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup buckwheat flour

1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon yeast

2 eggs

Melt the butter with the milk and cool to lukewarm.

Meanwhile whisk together the flour, buckwheat flour, sugar, salt and yeast.

Whisk the milk mixture into the flour mixture, cover with plastic wrap or a plate, and set aside to rise for 1½ hours in a warm place. The mixture should foam and double in size.

Whisk in two eggs, blending well. Butter a hot griddle or skillet, and use a heaping teaspoon of batter to make dollar size blini. Cook about one minute per side. 

Slather with butter or topping of your choice. 

Use immediately, or store in the refrigerator for a day or so, stirring well before using.


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Gift Guide 2017: Happy Chopsticks

December 7, 2017

One of my favorite places to shop for gifts is Yunhong in Chinatown, a small elegant shop that looks rather strange among the ordinary geegaw emporiums on Mott Street. This branch of a shop in Beijing sells nothing but chopsticks (and the occasional hand-crafted hair clip).

Their wares range from a couple of dollars up to $600; these are  chopsticks you give as wedding gifts or take to a special dinner. (And should you pull them out at a fancy omakase meal, your sushi chef is bound to be impressed.)

If you care to buy their wares online, there are a few limited options here.

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Gift Guide 2017: A Little Lamb

December 6, 2017

I first tasted Jamison lamb at the late, lamented Chef Jean-Louis Palladin‘s restaurant, Jean-Louis at the Watergate.  Palladin was a chef’s chef – revered by people like Eric Ripert – and an all around great guy.

“When Jean-Louis first tasted our lamb,” John Jamison says, “he began to cry.  That was back in the seventies, and he kept saying, ‘This is the flavor of my childhood’.”

The lamb that John and Sukey Jamison raise naturally-  on lush grass on a gorgeous Pennsylvania hillside – is so delicious that chefs all over the country swear by it. Their holiday gift pack – a leg and 6 chops – makes a very fine present for a special friend.

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