Monday, November 23, 2009

First (annual?) holiday gift guide for foodies

I am not a big fan of shopping but I love thinking of gifts for people. It's always fun to think about what someone might enjoy and to try to be original at it. As long as I start long enough in advance, and relegate most of the shopping to the internet, I find the experience very enjoyable. A lot of my gift ideas are food-centric. This is partly due to the fact that I am a food-centric person, and partly due to the fact that something related to food gives pleasure to the recipient. In the spirit of the upcoming holidays, I thought I'd share a few thoughts and ideas.

Always reliable: a cookbook

The printed page might be suffering but it's still great to have a beautiful physical cookbook for reference and inspiration. There are many new ones on the market that your foodie likely does not yet own. Here are a few that I've been looking at:

And for the new cook (or anyone who doesn't already have it), a broad reference like Mark Bitman's How to Cook Everything is essential.

For the gourmand (and gourmet), a food delivery

A gift of edibles is always appreciated. You can put together a gift that matches your passion and budget. A gift could be as simple as a nice olive oil and vinegar. Or, consider a few other ideas:

1. Order from an artisanal producer via Foodzie. Foodzie is the Etsy of food and a great way to support small purveyors and artisans.

2. Send a gourmet product directly from one of your favorite producers. Three I've sent from before include Niman Ranch, Salumi (the artisanal salumeria run by Mario Batali's father), and a true favorite, Rancho Gordo (also has a cookbook out that showcases their heirloom beans)

3. Support a local business by giving a gift certificate. In Manhattan, consider Manhattan Milk that sources from local Amish farmers and will accommodate with a gift delivery.

The Treats Truck will deliver an assortment of treats in their cute vehicle.

For your vegan foodie, Babycakes will deliver vegan-appropriate sweets both locally as well as ship.

4. Assemble a gift basket from a favorite retailer like Formaggio Kitchen in New York's Essex market.

For the gift that keeps on giving: a magazine subscription

Support the publishing industry by offering a unique magazine subscription that your recipient is unlikely to have, such as Donna Hay's wonderful, inspirational (albeit costly to order from the U.S.) magazine

or, at the other extreme, for the locavore on your list, a magazine from Edible Communities Publications (which products great local content for ~53 different areas in the United States, Canada, and Europe)

For the person who appreciates design: a beautiful kitchen item

Help someone upgrade basic kitchen items with something more pleasurable to use, like Cuisipro's gorgeous measuring cups and spoons.

Offer rustic luxe in the form of a hand-made wooden spoon from Live Wire Farm that is sure to put their old wooden spoons out of business . . .

. . . or a beautiful Irish linen apron from Teresa Green (she also has beautiful tea towels here)

If she/he already has everything - consider a Salter kitchen scale. I use mine constantly and don't know what I did without it.

For the foodie who has everything: something fun

Not an everyday item but tons of fun and well-priced, Kitchenaid's ice cream maker attachment is sure to broaden a culinary repertoire

For a gift that will allow you to spend time together: a cooking class

You could offer a gift certificate or class for two at your local culinary school, or, to get more extravagant, arrange for a cooking class (and dinner) in your home

For the neat freak: a special treat to clean with

While odd, I've had my eye on these snazzy artful sponges available at Korin trading.

Savon de Marseille's Liquid soap is a staple in my kitchen. Available in scents like grapefruit, fig and olive oil, they will fit right in on your counter.

And of course, how could I not mention:

For the art lover: a beautiful photograph from Sabra Krock photography

A limited offer for the holidays, any print from my portfolio, or photographs you've seen on my site, $55 for 11x17 (please inquire via email).

I hope this gives you some gift-giving "food for thought". I'd love to know what you are gifting this season.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pomegranate love: PAMA contest

I'm preparing a fun food-centric holiday gift guide for you. Stay tuned . . .

In the meantime, wanted to share a recipe I submitted to the PAMA pomegranate liqueur recipe and photo contest (grand prize is a trip for two to the food and wine festival in Aspen!). If you have time, please have a look at the submissions and vote for me if you think I deserve it : ) (public vote now until December 15th).

PAMA pomegranate granita

2.5 cups pomegranate juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup PAMA pomegranate liqueur
Juice from one lime
Pomegranate seeds and a sprig of mint for garnish (optional)

Heat pomegranate juice and sugar over medium heat in a medium, non-reactive saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in PAMA pomegranate liqueur and lime juice. Pour into a freezer-proof shallow baking dish or other flat, shallow container. Freeze for six hours or overnight, using a fork to break up large crystals every few hours. Garnish as desired, and serve immediately in small, chilled glasses.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Crisp and fresh: radish and celery root salad

Flipping through a recent Donna Hay magazine, I came across a radish and celery root salad that looked divine. I adore celery root - its crunchy, sweet, essence-of-celery taste is divine. I love it in soups but I'd never tried it raw. Donna's recipe called for a thick, heavy dressing of largely full-fat mayonnaise. Donna - what were you thinking? So I made my own interpretation. This is fresh from the farmer's market - hope you are inspired.

Radish and celery root salad (inspired by Donna Hay)

8 radishes, thinly sliced with a mandoline
One large celery root, peed and cut into pieces a bit larger than matchsticks
Chopped chives (note: you can also used other herbs instead or in addition to the chives, such as chopped Italian parsley and chopped chervil)
One cup plain low fat Greek yogurt
One clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs good olive oil
1 Tbs champagne vinegar
1 wedge of lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine yogurt, garlic, olive oil and vinegar with a couple of pinches of salt and pepper. Squeeze lemon wedge into mixture. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Set aside.

Put a portion of celery root on each plate and top with radish slices. Drizzle with dressing. Sprinkle with herbs. Serve immediately.