With only nine sleeps till Christmas, I was inspired by some of the gorgeous and generous gifts I received for my birthday this week to put together nine (well maybe ten) great Christmas gift ideas for the foodie in your life.
So here goes…
Herb garden: This is the perfect gift for someone like me who can only dream of a little patch of green in the ground to grow herbs and veggies in at home. There’s nothing like having fresh herbs on hand when you’re cooking and this little fragrant garden can sit on my windowsill while I pretend I’m looking off in to the garden.
This one contains two types of parsley, rocket and sage but here are some suggestions for herbs that grow well in pots. Pot your own or ask your florist to make one up for you.
Books (food porn):Larousse Gastronomique
Larousse Gastronomique has been the foremost resource of culinary knowledge since its initial publication in 1938. Long revered for its encyclopedic entries on everything from cooking techniques, ingredients, and recipes to equipment, food histories, and culinary biographies, it is the one book every professional chef and avid home cook must have on his or her kitchen shelf. Julia Child once wrote, “If I were allowed only one reference book in my library, Larousse Gastronomique would be it, without question.”
The culinary landscape has changed dramatically in the last decade, prompting a complete revision of this classic work. Larousse Gastronomique has now been updated to add the latest advancements that have forever changed the way we cook, including modern technological methods, such as sous-vide cooking and molecular gastronomy. All-new color ingredient-identification photographs give this edition a fresh, elegant look. Dozens of new biographies of people who have made significant contributions to the food world debut in this revision, including such luminaries as Ferran Adrià, Daniel Boulud, Alice Waters, Gaston Lenôtre, Thomas Keller, James Beard, and Julia Child.
An index at the end of the book of all 3,800 recipes for cuisines from around the world makes it easy to find a myriad of preparations for any ingredient or type of dish.
The unparalleled depth and breadth of information–from the traditional to the cutting-edge–make this newest edition of Larousse Gastronomique indispensable for every cook.
Until now, home cooking has remained radically out of touch with the technological developments that characterize the rest of modern life. This is the book to prove that science can dramatically improve the way we eat. Having spent years refining his analytical and imaginative approach at the Fat Duck restaurant, Heston Blumenthal is uniquely qualified to bring the benefits of science to the domestic kitchen. Both time-saving and energy-efficient, his methods unlock the alchemical potential of flavor and taste.
The first part of the book maps the new techniques in fifteen sections, including: taste and flavor; stocks and infusing; brining, curing, marinating, and macerating; and sections on proper care of meat, fish, pasta, and many other dishes. In the second part, there are 150 specially chosen recipes. Here, at last, is the secret to irrefutably perfect fish and chips, as well as a few more unconventional dishes such as salmon with licorice, and crab lasagna.
Heston Blumenthal at home is an ingeniously designed book for cooks who want to know how food works, and who are excited about adopting an unconventional approach that will revolutionize the experience of cooking at home.
For Elizabeth David, summer fare meant fresh, seasonal food-recipes that could be prepared quickly and savored slowly, from Gnocchi alla Genovese (‘simply an excuse for eating pesto’) to La Poule au Pot to Gooseberry Fool. Her 1955 classic work, now reissued, it includes an overview of herbs as well as chapters on impromptu cooking for holidays and picnics.
Divided into chapters on Soups, Salads, Eggs, Fish, Meat, Poultry and Game, Vegetables, and Sweets, it contains recipes from all over the world. Summer Cooking is a witty, precise companion for feasting in the warmer months – every bit as unexpected and enchanting to read today as it was 50 years ago. But the purest thrill of Summer Cooking, as in all of her books, is the pleasure her food delivers and the graceful way her prose captures the reader’s delight.
This is chicken stock made from a recipe that originated with my friends Grandma Susan. I can’t wait to make a big bowl of chicken soup to cure all ails and taste the love.
Chinese master stock is one of my favoruites and I always have a big container of it in my freezer (that’s the dark liquid in tubs sitting up the back in the photo above). It’s great for braising and poaching chicken and Asian greens. Yum.
Below is Neil Perry’s recipe for Chinese master stock;
7½ L Water
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 knob ginger, sliced
1 small handful shallot ends
1 stick cassia bark
2 star anise
375 ml light Soy sauce
375 ml Shoaxing wine (Chinese cooking wine)
75 g chinese rock sugar
– Fill a 10 litre stockpot ¾ full with cold water. Add the sliced garlic, ginger and shallots, followed by the aromatics. Add the light soy, shaoxing wine and Chinese rock sugar.
– Bring to the boil and taste the stock for balance of flavours.
– Allow the stock to cool, if not using straight away, strain it through a fine sieve and refrigerate until needed.
– Master stock, once cooled, strained and refrigerated can be used again and again (can be frozen).
– Replenish the stock with fresh garlic, ginger, shallots and aromatics each time you use it and the flavour will continue to intensify in strength and flavour.
Who would have thought a rolling pin could be so lovely? This antique glass rolling pin is one of the most beautiful gifts I have ever received.
Hollow, bottle-type glass rolling pins sometimes came with screw caps or cork closures and were originally filled with baking powder, vinegar, cocoa, or bath salts. Emptied and filled with cracked ice or ice water, these pins chilled the dough and kept it at a good working temperature.
I read somewhere that elaborate glass rolling pins where often found in sailor’s homes, where they were brought as lovers’ gifts by seafaring men engaged in the coasting trade. I like this… I would love to know the story of mine.
Go hunting around your local antique/junk stores or find them on eBay.
Magazine subscription (more food porn):I love SBS’s Feast magazine because it’s all about experiencing life through food. Their food is real – sometimes simple, sometimes sophisticated – but always authentic and full of flavour to entice everyone.
The photography is beautiful and really captures the atmosphere – I feel like I’m at the table enjoying the food I’m reading about (which just makes me hungry!). They cook with some of Australia’s best chefs, share in intimate family celebrations, enjoy authentic recipes from around the world.
Each monthly issue of Feast embarks on a new food adventure so you can discover the history, stories and traditions behind the dishes you eat at home and when you travel. “Feast is about feasting on all that life has to offer – tasting and enjoying life, even if it gets a little bit messy.” Alix Clark – Editor
isubscribe are currently offering 37% off a 12 month subscription.
Ceramic egg holder:My eggs have never looked so good in this lovely ceramic egg holder. It was purchased from the Finders Keepers handicraft markets in Sydney a few weeks ago and I’m trying to find the name of the company for you…
Perfectly sized for someone who loves to cook (fitting a bakers dozen of 13 eggs). It’s hard to tell in this photo but it’s a lovely pale green and now my eggs sit proudly on display instead of hidden away in their old cardboard home.
(**Quitely jumping out of my skin that I am the proud owner of this ticket**)
Heston Blumenthal returns to Australia in 2012 for his first national tour of exclusive, “one night only” events, live on stage in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. And for the first time the tour will include New Zealand.
This enthralling evening will focus on Heston’s unique philosophy and approach to cooking, exploring taste and flavour, and his passion for the multi-sensory experience of eating and drinking.
The chef of the three Michelin starred Fat Duck Restaurant in the UK and star of Heston’s Feasts and the Mission Impossible TV series will demonstrate his philosophies through live scientific experiments on stage.
Heston will take us on a journey from humble beginnings to the creation of iconic dishes such as ‘The Sound of the Sea’ with edible sand, logic defying Hot and Iced Tea, his famous Snail Porridge and the epic Mock Turtle Soup that takes three days to make.
Join Heston on a journey searching the archives at Hampton Court for historic British recipes which inspired the creation of new dishes for ‘Dinner by Heston Blumenthal’ in Knightsbridge, which has just been be awarded its first Michelin star after only nine months in operation.
Tickets available through ticketmaster.
When having a dinner party, you can write your guests name on the mats to create large placecards, write the menu, draw something to personalise the setting and as the night goes on your guests will naturally start to draw.
You can paint anything with chalboard paint, so why not do some wooden napkin rings while you’re at it?
Head to the hardware store to make your own (a few pieces of MDF cut to size and some chalkboard paint) or find the placemats at SAND,F as pictured here.
I stumbled upon Dawn Tawn at the Finders Keepers Market in Sydney last week and fell in love.
Melbourne artist and crafter Dawn Tan is a self-confessed foodie with a penchant for all things yummy and beautifully packaged. Her work embraces her inspiration with home-cooking, packaging and grocery shopping. Some of which have been translated into large over-sized sculptures, fun and colourful recipe paintings, edible food charts, kitchen accessories such as tea towels, aprons, and market tote bags – check out the fun meaty pillowcases.
I purchased the egg food chart (pictured) for myself and was torn between so many of herlovely designs. She also does private commissions.
Some really fabulous unique foodie gifts, well worth checking out! Handmadelove by Dawn Tan.
Sydney Seafood School:
The Sydney Seafood School at the Sydney Fish Market offers a vast array of fishy cooking classes, including one off classes from a list of guest presenters that reads like a who’s who of the Good Food Guide.
A voucher can be non-specific so let the recipient choose the class and date, and then you can head along for a great day of food, wine and entertainment.