The 2011 Gift Guide for Home Cooks

Etsy Apron — Great Goods

For the cook who collects aprons (yes, I might be one of them). This adorable apron is perfect for swapping out the dirty, greased-stained apron when guests arrive.

Brooklyn Butcher Blocks

Available in both cherry and walnut, these wooden butcher blocks are assembled in a brickwork pattern that provides more stability and strength. Plus, these types of cutting surfaces tend to be easier on your knives. Though it is an investment, the quality and stunning look of the blocks are well worth it — especially when you receive it as a gift (hint, hint).

Foodie Fight Rematch

Jane Bruce

Have a food lover at home who claims to know everything? Or want to teach your kids a little more about food? Challenge them to a round of Food Fight Rematch. It's perhaps one of the more well-researched and difficult games we’ve found ourselves playing (more than a few TDM editors have been stumped by this triva game).

Wood Hen Mortar and Pestle

Pretty to look at and easy to use, this wooden mortar and pestle is great for grinding spices, herbs, teas, and nuts. 

All-Clad All-American 3-Quart Casserole Pan

For the 40th anniversary of All-Clad, the company is showcasing this versatile All-American Casserole Pan that can be used for anything from baking casseroles and sautéing vegetables to frying. It’s stovetop-to-oven capability makes it perfect for searing, braises, and one-pot meals. Available in both tri-ply stainless steel and copper-core, it’s attractive enough to bring to the table, saving you a dish to clean. 

Red Boat Fish Sauce

Jane Bruce

One of the more ubiquitous ingredients in Vietnamese cooking, fish sauce is used in many Southeast Asian dishes and sauces to add depth and flavor. Unlike many brands that are laden with MSG and watered down, this bottled sauce comes from a secret family recipe, without any preservatives or MSG. Even if you aren’t familiar or comfortable with this style of cooking, try experimenting with this rich sauce at home to add more complexity to your dishes.

Cook This Now

For the locavore you love, pick up a copy of Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now, which is organized by the season and month. Her writing is as enticing and comforting as her recipes, making this a wonderful book to cook from and read. 

Check out some sample recipes from her book below. 

Braised Leg of Lamb with Garlicky Root Vegetable Purée recipe. 

Carroty Mac and Cheese. 

Herb Grower

If you’ve ever purchased fresh herbs for a recipe and after using a few sprigs of, let’s say thyme, have found that they’ve quickly gone bad in the refrigerator, fret no more because this is the perfect tool to solve all those worries. The unique design is geared toward prolonging the life of fresh herbs, so you don’t have to worry about your basil browning before you can use it the next evening. Plus, the arrangement can be displayed in the place of fresh flowers.

Ruhlman's Twenty

Acclaimed cook and writer Michael Ruhlman has just published one of the must-have books of the year. From tips for chopping herbs to step-by-step photo instructions for perfectly scrambling eggs, this cookbook is filled with terrific advice, recipes, and techniques. It makes for an essential gift for any cook looking to improve their skills at home. Check out a few sample recipes from the book below.

Apple Cinnamon Doughnuts recipe.

Perfect Roasted Chicken recipe.  

Chocolate Buttercream Icing recipe. 

Kuhn Rikon Classic Paring Knife Set

Coming in a colorful set of three, these knives are perfect for prep work like peeling vegetables or chopping garlic and are great to bring with picnics or lunches because of their protective cases. Plus, a little color never hurts in the kitchen.

Shun Fuji 7-Piece Knife Block Set

On the higher end of gifts on this list, the new Shun Fuji knives are handcrafted in Japan. They won the “Kitchen Knife of the Year Award” at the 2011 U.S. Blade show for best new product quality and design. Inspired by the Japanese knives often used by chefs, these knives were developed for experienced cooks who are used to the lightness and sharpness of Eastern-style blades. The handles are crafted from dark tagayasan wood (the dense wood that’s traditionally used in Japan to make samurai sword handles.) If buying the whole set isn’t in your budget, try splurging on the chef’s knife.

G3 Studios Wood Pepper Mills and Salt Grinders

Handcrafted in Michigan, these all-wood pepper mills and salt grinders are available in simple, natural wood patterns, as well as in more complex and intricate designs.

Le Creuset 4 1/2-Quart Dutch Oven

Instead of purchasing the orange-flame Dutch oven for your braising fanatic, opt for this more subtle eggplant-colored pan instead. Perfect for slow-cooking, the enameled cast-iron cookware is built to retain and evenly distribute heat to ensure consistent results. It also translates well when used for serving at the table because of its carefully constructed shape.