Gift Guide 2017: A Different Way to Store Knives

December 12, 2017

Almost everyone who comes into my kitchen remarks on my knife block: it’s so superior to those ones with slots that won’t accommodate your favorite knives (and carving forks).  Instead of slots, this one has plastic rods, so everything fits.

Why everyone doesn’t own one is beyond me, so this year, the universal knife block is my universal gift.

Should you care to give a slightly cooler version, there’s this sexy slim black knife block. 


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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.


Gift Guide 2017: The Tastiest Toaster

December 10, 2017

Toasters are ugly, clunky, and mostly don’t work very well.  It’s amazing that so few people have set their minds to making the kitchen’s most ubiquitous appliance more attractive.

Which is all the more reason to be grateful for the late Gae Aulenti, who created this enchanting Toast Toaster.  Your friend may already possess a toaster – but wouldn’t she rather have this one?

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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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