1. Fruitcake. This Dean and DeLuca fruit cake is not your usual, run of the mill cake, we all associate with being repulsive. But then again, what do Dean and Deluca NOT do right? Everything in their boutique satiates both my palate and aesthetic appeal. I had some of this cake and decided that not all fruit cakes are made equal and Dean and Deluca’s is the fairest of them all. You can get it in white or dark cake. I prefer the dark, which is $36.
2. OXO tongs. I can not function in my kitchen without these bad boys! I swear they have spared me plenty of oil splatter knick burns and torn up fish! They are great for flipping and handling most anything you make. I especially love using them for my brioche french toast recipe you can drool on here.
3. Torron. Dean and Deluca does it again with a classic I grew up eating, only this turrón is gourmet for you discriminating palate types. Torron, or nougat, is originally from Spain and is a traditional Christmas and New Year’s Eve/Day candy dessert, found in abundance and never depleted. The Italian also have a fantastic version, which is what D & D offers. This gift pack has 4 different flavors including orange, pistachio, 4 fruits, and almond. A gift set of 4 bars costs $16. *new note: my fave turrón flavor was the all pistachio one. Finished it within the hour. The 4 pack didn’t last a week. Perfect midnight snack if you’re up that late. Yeah, that good!
4. I adore this nutmeg mill. A friend of mine first showed it to me a few years ago and I immediately went on a hunt for it. It’s perfect for grinding fresh nutmeg and once you use it, you’ll never go back to ground nutmeg in a jar. Believe that. I found mine on Ebay for about $14, brand new. This same one here sells at Williams & Sonoma for $25. Great deal, either way.
5. LOOOOVE this book. Written by top chefs at the CIA, The Professional Chef, now it’s 8th edition, is perfect for the home cook that wants and needs to learn basic and even advanced training and technique. Not only does it have a gorgeous bronzy-metallic cover, but it is filled with over 280 pictures of methods, technique demos and dishes you can make at home. Amazon. $70. Thomas Keller approves this book. I think he loves it, too.
6. Kaña Cuban Espresso. I have officially moved on from Bustelo Cuban coffee. If you follow this blog, my Facebook and Twitter, you know I am vehemently obsessed with Cuban espresso. Well, earlier this year, I was introduced by to this gourmet Cuban coffee. This S*** is where it’s AT! They found me on Twitter and offered me some and I’ve been a fan since. Now, I’m just trying to work out an endorsement deal with them. The owner is a Cuban lawyer, so he knows the biz. While I work on that deal, you work on visiting their site and trying out their espresso. So silky smooth. *new note: the gift basket pictured is an ideal gift for the espresso lover or newbie. Comes with a stove top espresso maker, demitasse and saucer, creamer and sugar pots. $60. Click on the picture to go to their site!
7. I collect mortars and pestles for grinding some spices like coriander and for mashing aguacates for guac. I love this one because it looks completely different from all the rustic and international ones I’ve picked up along the way. And, it’s just pretty as hell. I just wonder how practical it is. It’s not cheap, so unless you’re selling off some of your food shots, I’d stick with the good ol’ wood or marble ones. This one is just sooo clean looking. $ 105.
8. Honey. Love it. Use it almost every day in something. So this ceramic honey pot was a no brainer when I saw it at T.J. Maxx. Cute, practical and cheap enough to buy for all your honies. $4 at T.J. Maxx or $8 somewhere online. Oh, use the stirrer (which is shaped like a honeycomb) to stir your honey in your hot tea. Works like a charm.
9. Snowball crystal votive holder. I have 8 of these and one more would drive my wanna live-in part-time lover, crazy. These adorable and uber chic crystal votive holders are unique and classy. Made in Sweden by Kosta Boda, they are “snowballs” that will gracefully add ambiance to your holiday soirees. You can pick them up at Macy’s, Neimans, Saks or even on Ebay for the low-low!
10. I couldn’t end my gift guide without a pressure cooker, the tool of all tools for the serious cook, chef, newbie, etc… Pressure cookers cut down your cooking time by 75%, almost every time. No lie. I use them for just about everything. I have 7, working on getting up to 10, soon. The one pictured below is a 1946 Mirro Matic 4qt that I use to make smaller flans, and portions of dinner for just 4 people. I can’t imagine not owning at least one. Consider a vintage one just because of the mystique, but if you fret blowing off the jiggler, definitely go for the new ones, which are full-proof and don’t allow opening until all the pressure is released. You’ll avoid a black bean covered ceiling! A good brand would be Fagor, sold at Macy’s or guess where: yes, Ebay, for much cheaper. Click here, here , here or here for some pressure cooker recipes I’ve made!
* I was not paid for any of these “endorsements.” I have tried everything and personally own most of these things. Dean & Deluca did provide the turron and fruit cake to taste and yes, I do love it! You will, too!
HAPPY SHOPPING, MERRY RECEIVING AND CONSIDER GIVING TO THOSE LESS FORTUNATE THAN YOU!
WHAT’S ON YOUR GIFT GUIDE!?
Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.
49 thoughts on “A Few Of My Favorite Things-'09 Christmas & Holiday Gift Guide”
Girl – we so need to go shopping! Love the gift choices. The CIA book is FABULOUS!! All of these choices are top notch – and one can NEVER go wrong with Dean & Deluca!
Mortar and pestle for sure! It’s funny how the smallest gift can make someone’s day. This would do it.
I’d love to see any of these gifts under my tree. I especially like the nutmeg mill Bren:D
I’d have to say my fave would probably be turron. I particularly like Spanish turron in all of its variaties,although, mind you, my taste buds can still remember one we bought in a small Italian town close to Monaco -Ventimiglia- which really rocked!!
These are some really great suggestions! Thank you so much for sharing them with us! I grew up with Torrone and they really are a special treat!
Good selection but the one that sings out to me is the modern-looking pilon. And speaking of ‘pilon’, that’s the name of the coffee I use exclusively. Hope you get a deal with Kaña and then you could send me a sample, right? 🙂
Happy holidays, feliz año nuevo!
I love all of your choices although I rarely cook with a pressure cooker any more since I am not working.
Those are my favorite tongs and over the past six years that I have been using them, I’ve bought several and given them out as part of gifts!!! Thanks for all the suggestions, everything looks great!
great round-up of gifts. i’d be happy to get any of those. gotta be honest, though… thought the mortar/pestle was a dildo. Just sayin’.
Lys: yes we do, we are so over due! Philly or ATL first?!
DuoDishes: LOVe the mortar and pestle! Did you see Amy’s comment about it?!
Val: the nutmeg mill works like a charm. really extracts the natural aromas and flavors of the nut.
David: Turron from Italy is amazing. I’m biased to our Cuban turron, especially el de yema! oh it’s soooo good!
Jenn: You agree with Dave, so you have good taste! 🙂
Joan: girl, please you have to try that Kaña! You won’t ever go back to bustelo or pilon. promise. let’s get u some.
Ivy: awww. i’d love to see u get back to using your pressure cooker some more!
Maria: those tongs are the best kitchen tool, i swear (next to pressure cooker! LOL!) a great gift indeed!
Amy: I’M JUST SAYIN’. I was on the floor reading your comment. I even tweeted it!! hilarious! It’s pretty, tho, right?!
Hi Bren!…I luv, luv,luv ur gift guide..particularly the CIA manual and pressure cooker ideas..I use both ALL THE TIME!..
global knives and 10 inch cast iron skillet.I would love to get a 5 qrt enamel cast iron dutch oven next. I love mine and have to make sure they don’t walk out the door with one of the kids or grandkids.I make my own fruitcake with dark rum, have nutmeg mill, CIA book,mortar and pestle,2 pressure cookers, different votive holders and buy our honey by the gal from a local bee keeper.
Chef Lynn: Thanks lady! That book is awesome! I know it’s a bit pricey, but sooo worth it! And I’m glad to learn of yet another pressure cooker user!
Julia: global knives are IT! I didn’t add it to the list b/c I figure everyone has knives and are as unique as some other things on there. We all have to cut some food! Don’t have a dutch oven, but have had my eye on a Le Crueset one for a while now! That island green color to be exact. #Christmaslist. Did you see local bee??? I want some! I have some from an estate in Trinidad and it is absolutely amazing! I’ve had it almost two years and don’t want to finish using it, it’s soooo good. We went to the hives and even ate from the comb. look here:
Merry Christmas to both and all!
My favorite thing is the pressure cooker. Only because of the delicious things you make that come out of it.
i.e. FLANK STEAK!
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