December 11, 2008

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Delicious gifts for the foodie
Kitchen toys for the wannabe Top Chef
By Linda A. Thompson-Odum food@hippopress.com

It’s easy to recognize a foodie. His cookbooks fill an entire bookcase. He understands terms like chiffonade, demi-glace and mirepoix. His TV is always tuned to the Food Network, except for Saturdays (PBS cooking shows) and Wednesdays (Bravo’s Top Chef). Perhaps he even has a photo of Julia Child in the kitchen. (I’m guilty on all counts.)

For the foodie on your gift list, there are plenty of items to make the holiday a joy.

Foodie newbie — Is your food-lover new to the kitchen? If he already owns the classic Joy of Cooking (if not, buy it for him!), then consider Mark Bittman’s revised How to Cook Everything. Known for his weekly The Minimalist column in the New York Times, Bittman keeps his recipes simple and is a master at explaining the techniques necessary to prepare a wonderful dish. This cookbook contains more than 2,000 of his best recipes with close to 400 how-to illustrations.

Next, check out the foodie’s kitchen to be sure he owns all the basics, such as the essential knives (chef, paring, and serrated), pans (medium skillet; large deep-sided skillet; large stockpot; large Dutch oven, and a medium saucepan), baking pans (cookie sheet, pie plate, loaf pan, roasting pan, square pan, two 9-inch cake pans and a muffin tin) and utensils (mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons, whisk, instant-read thermometer, colander, tongs, cutting board, etc.). If he is short a few items, fill in the gaps. Or, give him a gift certificate to your favorite kitchen supply store so he can choose exactly what he wants. Things Are Cooking, 74 N. Main St., Concord, is a good place to start, as is Viking House, 19 N. Main St., just across the street.

Old-fashioned cook — Does your foodie enjoy Grandma’s old recipes or just simple, down-home food (think Paula Deen)? Then perhaps you’ll want to give him The Old Farmer’s Almanac Everyday Cookbook. It is full of traditional recipes (seafood chowder, turkey pot pie, apple-glazed corned beef brisket, seafood casserole, and Grape Nut pudding) — it’s as if someone raided Grandma’s recipe file. Or, since few people know simple home food like the Amish, give your foodie The Amish Cook at Home. This cookbook is full of beautiful country images and simple Amish recipes and antidotes for every season.

Make sure your foodie has a recipe file to pass on to the next generation. Also, to follow the old-fashioned theme, buy a couple of beautiful and functional aprons, oven mitts and dish towels. Or scope out a local antique shop for a glass or ceramic cake stand or pie plate. And, though they’re a bit hard to find this time of year, see if you can come across all the items necessary for canning so your foodie can make his own jellies and canned goods next harvest season (the local Agway or cooking store would be a good place to start).

Food geek — Is your food lover a bit like Alton Brown? Does he feel the need to know the chemistry behind an airy angel food cake? Then he might enjoy The Science of Good Food by David Joachim and Andrew Schloss. Set up dictionary-style, this book will allow your foodie to scope out any food term and learn in detail what it is and how it works. For example, he can discover the roll pectin plays in making jelly, how microwave and induction cooking works, and why xanthan gum is all the rage.

Another good gift for this foodie type is a subscription to Cook’s Illustrated magazine. In a large Massachusetts test kitchen (where the America’s Test Kitchen cooking show is also filmed), the authors of this publication try numerous versions of a recipe to find the best one. Then they break down the recipe step by step to make it easy for the home cook to recreate.

As for a gadget to get your food geek, how about a kitchen scale — the most accurate one you can find. These are particularly handy when baking, since the best way to measure flour is by weight.

Asian aficionado — If you have a foodie friend who loves anything with an Asian flair, then give him Secrets of the Red Lantern: Stories and Vietnamese Recipes from the Heart by Pauline Nguyen. This beautiful cookbook tells the author’s story of how her family escaped from war-ravaged Vietnam and established the Red Lantern restaurant in Sydney, Australia. It not only contains hundreds of delicious but simple recipes (illustrated in color photographs); it’s also full of family photos that illustrate their traditions and journey.

Chances are this type of foodie owns his own wok, chopsticks, bamboo steamer and sushi-making supplies. If not, then you know what to buy, and add a gift certificate to one of the local Asian markets, such as Asian Market Center, 550 Elm St., or Saigon Asian Market, 93 S. Maple St., in Manchester; or Merlion Asian Market, 433 Amherst St., or Saigon Asian Market, 33 Pine St., in Nashua.

Foodie on the go — Do you know a food-lover whose job or family keeps him too busy to indulge in his culinary passions? Barbara Fairchild, editor-in-chief of Bon Appetit magazine, has put together The Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook based on the magazine’s section with the same name. It contains 1,100 recipes that are quick and easy to cook at home but miles away from Hamburger Helper. The book also contains do-ahead tips, a helpful shopping guide so the pantry is always stocked with necessary items, and easy entertaining techniques, all to help that busy friend enjoy the wonderful food he loves.

Of course, perhaps the best gift for the busy foodie is a gift certificate to his favorite restaurant. If you haven’t done it already, check out Goodeatsnh.com, where you can buy gift certificates to some of the state’s most popular restaurants at 50 percent off! For example, if you want to get your friend a $50 gift certificate to Z Food and Drink, it will only cost you $25. The Web site also features lodging, shopping and event discounts as well.

Gift certificates to food shops are also a good idea. Check out Cooking Matters, 97 Main St., Nashua, Angela’s Pasta and Cheese, 815 Chestnut St., Manchester, and Butter’s Fine Food and Wine, 70 N. Main St., Concord.

Future pro — Perhaps your favorite foodie wants to turn his passion into a career. Then wrap up a copy of Food Jobs by Irean Chalmers. This book not only talks about restaurant positions and culinary schools, it covers food careers in retail, art and design, the food media, public relations, history, science, and farming. It will allow your foodie to explore all available options. If your foodie dreams of being the next Anthony Bourdain, Emeril Lagasse or Rachael Ray, then get him started with a copy of The Culinary Institute of America Cookbook. This book has recipes and preparation instructions from the most famous culinary school in the U.S., which makes it good for the home-cook foodie as well.

For a young chef-wannabe, consider classes at For Kids Who Cook in Derry. Owner Lisa Dion offers classes for all age groups — preschool through teen. She also sells kid-sized cooking stuff, including a great glove that will keep young ones from cutting their hands while they learn to slice and chop.

If your special foodie is serious about a culinary career, then maybe you should buy him a set of knives in a professional-style case. (All culinary students want a knife set, but sometimes it can be cost-prohibitive.) Stores like Things are Cooking have both the cases and a large selection of knives from which to choose.

Certificates for area cooking classes are also a good idea. Look into ones offered by Chez Boucher French Cooking School in Hampton (www.chezboucher.com), Chef Liz Barbour’s Creative Feast (www.thecreativefeast.com), and Chef/Instructor Oonagh Williams’s Royal Temptations (www.royaltepmtations.com). Or take a road trip to the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vt. (www.neci.com), or the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. (www.ciachef.edu), which both offer classes and demonstrations for non-students.



12/4/2008 New chef at UnWine'd

11/27/2008 Corks pops at BVI
11/20/2008 Big plates, big food
11/13/2008 IPA first prize
11/6/2008 You want it? He'll bring it.
10/30/2008 Cooking up a mystery
10/23/2008 Running with the bulls
10/16/2008 Like grandma made it
10/9/2008 The flavor of Concord
10/2/2008 Indie donuts rising
9/25/2008 Buy a bowl, feed the hungry
9/18/2008 Oktoberfest — for a cause
9/11/2008 A slice ofGreece, Asia, France...
9/4/2008 Flavors of Manchester
8/28/2008 D.I.Y. sausage
8/21/2008 Summertime and the living is chilli
8/14/2008 Weekend of festivals
8/7/2008 Going for pizza gold
7/31/2008 Red and juicy, from vine to table
7/24/2008 Meet the Manch-vegans
7/17/2008 Meet the winemaker
7/10/2008 Pupusas, cervesa y batidos
7/03/2008 3C's Cafe opens in Highlander Inn
6/26/2008 Oh, tartar sauce!
6/19/2008 From farm to grill
6/12/2008 450 pounds of lamb
6/5/2008 Travel the culinary world at BVI
5/29/2008 Chocolate throwdown
5/22/2008 Hit the road for some Yum-Yum
5/15/2008 Local, gluten-free and ready made
5/8/2008 The return of brownies and pasta
5/1/2008 Have a fiesta
4/24/2008 Noshing and shopping
4/17/2008 Celebrating with Greek eats
4/10/2008 Drive-ins open for the season
4/3/2008 Noshing for a cause
3/20/2008 The Easter Bunny brings dinner
3/13/2008 The Irish Spirit
3/6/2008 The sweet season
2/28/2008 Cambodian (or Italian) made easy
2/21/2008 Fresh fish comes to Nashua
2/14/2008 Hearts and fibers
2/7/2008 A romantic dinner for two
1/31/2008 Celebrate Mardi Gras
1/24/2008 Morroccan in Milford
1/17/2008 The chef is inn
1/10/2008 Italian street food in NH
1/10/2008 The contorni approach
1/3/2008 Like Disneyland for foodies
12/27/2007 More food and wine events, a menu for the bar
12/20/2007 Lots of dough
12/13/2007 Gifts for gourmands
12/6/2007 Making spirits really bright
11/22/2007 Just don't ask them to cook
11/15/2007 Easy as pie
11/8/2007 Italian eats, bistro style
11/1/2007 Bringing Italia to New Hampshire
10/25/2007 Trick or treat, the grown-up version
10/18/2007 Shop where the pros go
10/11/2007 Enjoy apple season from orchard to plate
10/04/2007 Tradition on the menu
9/27/2007 Meet your pig
9/20/2007 In search of the right meat
9/20/2007 Vegan blogger branches out
9/13/2007 Get ready to eat
9/6/2007 Fifty years of fair
8/30/2007 The buzz about peach fuzz
8/23/2007 Enjoy the Caribbean, sans hurricanes
8/16/2007 Festival weekend
8/9/2007 Still time to scream
8/2/2007 Perfecting a pound of pasta
7/26/2007 Gourmet Concord?
7/19/2007 Tart treats of a New Hampshire summer
7/12/2007 Reintroducing ratatouille
7/5/2007 Time to hit the grill
6/28/2007 Peanutty dinner delight
6/21/2007 Spicy meat, grilled meat and saucy meat
6/14/2007 Holy Barbecue
6/07/2007 A wine for Red Sox
5/31/2007 Pinot noir romance
5/24/2007 Josh Logan eats (not before shows)
5/17/2007 Baklava, spanakopita and souvlaki ó a.k.a. dinner
5/10/2007 Cremeland celebrates 60 years of burgers and shakes
5/3/2007 New eats in bloom
4/26/2007 Pho sure
4/19/2007 Cakes, cow-free
4/12/2007 Serving up the first square
4/5/2007 More than just a chocolate bunny
3/29/2007 New 'nuches
3/22/2007 A taste of genuine sweetness
3/15/2007 From homemade to home business
3/8/2007 Shop the farmers' market year round
3/1/2007 Feeding Mama Kicks
2/22/2007 Keepers of the vino
2/15/2007 Noodly comfort food
2/8/2007 The luxury of osso bucco
2/1/2007 Super platters for the Super Bowl
1/25/2007 It's a wrap
1/18/2007 The writing foodie
1/11/2007 Where the beef is, piled high and hot
1/04/2007 The healthy foodie
12/28/2006 The return of pasta and fall of the diet: the year in eats
12/21/2006 Organic on the ice
12/14/2006 French but not fussy
12/07/2006 Southeast U.S. culture, in sandwich form
11/30/2006 Bites of comfort with chips of happiness
11/23/2006 Cityside adds class to conveniece
11/16/2006 Easier-to-enjoy Thanksgiving feasts
11/9/2006 The new classic
10/26/2006 Whip up a quiche
10/19/2006 A new way to crepe
10/12/2006 Comfort food for blokes and birds
10/05/2006 Smaller crop but still red and delicious
09/28/2006 The crunchier, lighter, healthier wrap
09/21/2006 City bagels in suburbia
09/14/2006 Cracking the custard code
09/07/2006 Eat your way down the block
08/31/2006 New flavors for an old summer dish
08/24/2006 Way down south in Hollis
08/17/2006 Frappe vs. milkshake
08/10/2006 Enjoy the bluest month
08/03/2006 Death of Toro
07/27/2006 Vacation on a plate
07/20/2006 Hitting barbecue big time
07/13/2006 Relishing the raspberry
07/06/2006 Are your edible souveneirs kosher?
06/29/2006 Fish, upscale
06/22/2006 Sweet rosey taste of summer
06/15/2006 When to pull out the EVOO
06/08/2006 What can you grill?
06/01/2006 Taste of downtown Nashua
05/25/2006 Deulge at farms
05/18/2006 Adorable and delicious
05/11/2006 Rub down
05/04/2006 Pinot to go
04/27/2006 A bit Italian, a bit egg foo young
04/20/2006 Meatier than breakfast...
04/13/2006 Let yourself eat cake
04/06/2006 Fear not the Risotto
03/30/2006 Making Friday a fishy delight
03/23/2006 The Thin Mints are here
03/16/2006 Divining your personality from pizza
03/09/2006 Cooking up a big bowl of comfort
03/02/2006 Dumplings demystified
02/23/2006 Carbs and comfort all the way
02/16/2006 She sells sushi by the sea shore
2/09/2006 Biting into the burger with bling
02/02/2006 Forget formal dining, head to the bar
01/26/2006 Goodbye rooster, hello year of the dog
01/19/2006 The secret lives of chefs
01/12/2006 Cooking up a pot of delayed gratification
01/05/2006 A sunny Italian side dish
A year of eats

All-you-can-read guide to breakfast
A bagel by any other l
abel
A picnic ó itís romance with ants
A sweet burst of summer, in stages
Beef, It's What's For Dinner, Lunch, And Dessert
Be it ever so humble, the burger rules
Blockbuster snacks for your movie
Box Of Chocolates
C Is For Cookie And Christmas And Cool Combo
Celebrating A Holiday For The Rest Of Us
Celebrate Easter In A Sugar Coma
Chat And Chew

Chinese soup is magic
Chocolate cake makes everything better
Chocolate, Part II
Competition flows like chocolate
Corn Flake Chicken, Honeycomb Salad
Dining at the "Your House Bistro"
Don't Dread The Bread
Dress Up Your Next Meal
Drinking Out Of The Box
Eating Your Way Back To Health
Empanadas
Enter Soup
Experiments With Very Bad Brownies
Feeding A Crowd The Morning After
Follow the cider house rules
Fresh Herbs
Go ahead ó run silent, run deep
Goodbye corn syrup, hello organic oatmeal
Go Indian for Thanksgiving
Grilled Cheese Junkie

Halloween candy for grown-ups
Have a Happy Meal and a happier wallet
Holiday Cookies - The Easy Way
Holiday Potluck 101-Tips For The Kitchen Novice
Home-Based Date
How do you like them apples?
In-A-Pinch Love Feast
It's not easy to be cheesy
Itís not Christmas without tamales
Lest We Forget The Humble Squash
Keeping your cool while you eat
Living through your salad days

Looking Beyond The Hot Dog Stand
Lunching your way to a less toxic you
Meat's meat and a man's gotta eat

Moist and delicious chicken ó no, really
Oatmeal Cookies, The Miracle Cure
Oscar Night, When The Stars Come Out To Eat

Offering Up A Slice Of Teriyaki Pie
Pot Pies Are Darn Tasty
Pumpkin-Flavored Treats
Small Plates Are The Next Big Thing
Speedy 'za not pie in the sky
Steak: itís whatís for dinner, again
Summer coolers, just add sunlight
Summer Squash
Super Bowl Grub
Take A Walk On The Dark Side
Taste of Manchester Event
The Cosmopolitan
The joys of a simple oatmeal breakfast
The return of comfort food
The One-Note Cook Book
The New American Plate Cookbook
The Stickiest, Hottest & Sweetest Of Love's Labors
The taste of retro
The Unheralded Peanut Butter Cookies
The union of sweet and heat
The Weekly Dish (12-16-04)
The Weekly Dish (12-23-04)

The Weekly Dish [1-13-05]
There's a Barbecue Bonanza Next Door
Week Four: Adding Diet To The Mix
What Was Hot And Haute In 2004
When $$ trumps urge to dine out
When in doubt, go for the organic
When nothing else will cool, Slurp it
You Say Potato, She'll Say Potato,Too
You say tomato, writer says lunch