How Chefs Stuff Their Christmas Stockings (Slideshow)
December 20, 2013
Give fun food gifts chefs would give this holiday
Babushka Measuring Cups
"A lovely Japanese woman at my local farmers' market sells simple, earth-toned linen aprons so I will be giving those to all my friends for the holiday. I am also very keen on freshly ground pepper so I like to give pepper mills (designed by my husband). I also make two or three dozen Christmas Stollen each year to give to friends and take to holiday parties."
François Payard's Salted Caramels
"Not surprisingly, I like to give friends gifts that have to do with baking. Three of my favorite stocking stuffers are OXO silicone spatulas, OXO cookie scoops, and Vanilla Bean Crush Extract from Sonoma Syrup Co. The extract is made from Madagascar and Tahitian vanilla beans and includes some of the pulp, so you get big flavor, wonderful aroma, and the beautiful speckle of the bean's seeds."
"I definitely will be giving out a lot of my new cookbook Classico E Moderno out this season, even if it's just so I have a great response when friends and relatives need recipe tips! I will just say, look in the book! Frozen handmade pasta is also a great stocking stuffer, especially when packaged with a ripe white truffle for added bonus."
"I ordered a bunch of totes from Brooklyn Roasting Co. — they're in DUMBO, where I mostly live, and I love the owners. I'll fill them with foodstuff from my last eight months in Italy. Olive oil from Castelfalfi; beautiful cutlery from Scarperia, an ancient knifing town near Florence; and even some supermarket pasta from across the street in Rome. I'm also planning to smuggle a cannoli from Ciuri Ciuri for my mom (to be gifted immediately), and a nutcracker I found in the park. Wish me luck with all of the above at the airport! Incidentally — and shameless plug — I'm told Nigella Lawson gave away my book as her stocking stuffers last year!"
Gifts From the Heart
"The best gift is a donation to City Harvest. It’s really shameful that so many people are going hungry in New York City, and this is literally the easiest thing anyone can do to help change that. Also, while no one actually wants to get a donation made in their name for a present (what do you unwrap?), what recipient is so heartless they’ll admit they’re disappointed?
There are so few food magazines out there, why not lend the latest one your support and give a subscription to Cherry Bombe? Also, one of the best things about giving gift cards is that it gives the recipient an excuse to get out of the house and go somewhere. Get classy and treat them to Dovetail’s Monday night vegetable menu.
Lastly, the cookbook I use most often is The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. Probably not for beginners, but if you’ve got a friend who is a home cook, they’ll love you for it. "\
"The extendable fork! This is a gag gift — it is a fork with an extendable handle so you can sneak the last piece of duck off your guest's plate when they are not looking! Underberg liquor, a can of peanut brittle — the perfect size and sweetness for this holiday season — and/or personalized tie clips."
Cocktail Carmel Corns
"For stocking stuffers this year, we have our 'cocktail caramel corns,' which are basically snackable versions of our favorite tipples. Our permanent flavors are Dark & Stormy (made with Gosling's Black Seal rum, fresh ginger, and fresh lime zest), and Green Chile Margarita (made with real Hatch green chile from New Mexico, 100 percent agave tequila, and fresh lime zest). We've also got a new seasonal special flavor, Hot Toddy, which is made with Maker's Mark bourbon, fresh lemon zest, cinnamon, and local honey, I love them all and would probably be inclined to give a bag of each to all my friends, but if I had to pick one I think it would be the Hot Toddy — it's always been my favorite winter warmer and it's just addictive in caramel corn form!"
Suede Pot Holders
"I love the Food Lover's Companion, by Sharon Tyler Herbst. It's an indispensable reference guide for anyone who is a food nerd or a food writer. And I love suede pot holders. They give a great grip and provide more control than oven mitts. Dean and Deluca used to make them, but you can still find them on Amazon and in kitchen stores."
"Although this is a time-sensitive gift and won't work over the typical Christmas fire, I think cheese and charcuterie is a gift everyone loves. To fill the stocking stuffer to the brim I would add some of my special condiments like mango mustard, tamarind chipotle, or honey bourbon relish. For the left-brained side of my family, I would give a digital thermometer to make sure the ham is cooked just so or a SodaStream for homemade seltzer. And because I am a dog owner to a cuddly pit bull, and many of my family members are as well, I would also include organic dog treats."
"Each year I make a big batch of my maple-glazed walnuts (basically walnut halves toasted in a pan with pure maple syrup and a little salt until coated.) They are sweet, indulgent, and just right for the season, but healthy, too. Packed in little mason jars and wrapped in ribbon, they are the perfect holiday goody."
"Trapani sea salt — my favorite sea salt from Trapani, Sicily — it has a bright, clean, pure, sea salt flavor which is perfect for finishing both sweet and savory dishes. Also, the Smoking Gun from Poly Science — this is one of my favorite gadgets ever! This fun little tool allows anyone to easily smoke any meat, fruit, or vegetable without adding heat. It's great for the obvious like adding true smoked flavor to oven-baked BBQ ribs but also great for the not so obvious like adding smoke flavor to marshmallows for indoor s'mores that really remind you of camping."
"My most favorite thing to give people is food-related gifts. Some of my go-tos are a rice cooker (with yummy rice), a Caesar salad bowl with all the ingredients and recipes, a SodaStream, a cheese-of-the-month club subscription, Takayuki knife/knife set (with a penny attached!), cookbooks, and gift certificates to some of my favorite restaurants."
Vietnamese Spring Rolls
"This year my gift to my friends is Vietnamese spring rolls I learned to make when I was 10 years old from a friend of my parents. This gentleman chef owned the only Vietnamese restaurant in Chamonix and he made the very best spring rolls… strange story but true! I make them at home, freeze them in bags, and give them to my friends with instructions for how to prepare the sauce and eat them with a little salad and mint. This year I made 200 spring rolls. People are very surprised when I tell them that this is what I learned when I was 10. Making and sharing them gives me a happy nostalgia for my past."
"I’m not a baker but, once a year during the holidays, I love to bake and I love to make a panettone for my friends and family. This year I stumbled upon a lid magnet for when you’re preserving and canning. The magnet pulls the lids out of the water very easily. It’s extremely handy. I love to give little gnocchi boards as holiday gifts. Buy the good ones that are thicker and have the ridges on both sides. I think everyone should learn how to make gnocchi. Gnocchi boards are also great to use to make grooves on the outside of garganelli."
"MoJo cookies, baked fresh daily at my restaurant by my wife and step-daughter, are my gift of choice. With flavors like dark chocolate chip walnut and oatmeal raisin, these giant 6-ounce cookies are made from the finest ingredients including Callebaut Belgian Chocolate, King Arthur Flour, and local organic eggs, and come wrapped in festive packaging for the holidays!"
Flavored Salts and Sugars
"I love to give flavored salts and sugars to my friends as gifts. You can get as creative as you want."