Typically I slowly hoard Christmas presents all through the year. Meanwhile my husband spends 363 days of the year in denial that Christmas is always on December 25. I predict that in 9 days from now, he will be amongst the crowds of shoppers desperately trying to remember who and what to buy for.
This year has been an exception in that I have not been anywhere near a shop most of the year and so have not chanced upon the perfect present for friends or family. I have had to do quite a lot of it through rather soulless online shopping. I thought in case any of you are in a similar position but are looking for the perfect present for a foodie, I would share my favourite Christmas presents from last year.
- Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller
I love cookbooks that introduce new cooking methods and techniques and Thomas Keller is always on the frontier of cooking. From this book I learned to do a quick brine on scallops before cooking them to ensure they are uniformly plump and juicy. The recipes are mouthwatering and made for home cooks.
2. Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson
I know it sounds boring to read a history book on cooking equipment and methods but you have to trust me that this book is really absorbing. It’s not only well written but it explores how our kitchens came into being; something very few of us ever consider, no matter how obsessed with food we are.
3. Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit
I find that often I read recipes to get the idea of flavour combinations. New cuisines are exciting because of the flavours that they introduce or use in a whole new way. The Flavour Thesaurus explores this part of food and inspires you to cook.
4. Leg of ham
One of the days before Christmas, the doorbell rang and there was a large package. We opened it and mysteriously found a ham holder with no indication of who had sent it. Even stranger, a few days later, our neighbour came by with another, even heavier package. We opened it to find an entire leg of ham from Spain. My husband declared it to be the best day of his life (no offence of course to me and his then two children). Our cat also declared it to be the best day of his life while he lurked in every corner attempting to get to the ham. We went to sleep that night smelling of ham only to awake to the house alarm going off. We literally had a cat burglar. Once he was sure we were all fast asleep, the cat had tried to stealthily make his way to the ham and triggered the intruder alarm. It really was that good….and a few days later we finally found out which friend to thank.
I sometimes find that being a mother of three puts me at odds with my other love in life, food. When I was given a Thermomix last Christmas by my husband, it was actually an investment in how we want our family to eat – together at home. While I can cook three times a day, every day. I often don’t want to or don’t have the time. Or I want to make a couple of courses but don’t have the energy. This is where the Thermomix comes in.
Most of you are probably wondering what a Thermomix is (aka the “Bimby” in Italy). Once you have seen one you will begin to notice them everywhere – on cooking shows, at a friend’s house, etc. The German makers of Thermomix, Voerwerk, have sold more than 7 million machines and are extremely popular in Italy. In Portugal, sales of the Bimby outstrip those of iPads. The genius behind the Thermomix is that it can weigh, chop, puree, cook, steam and stir. I can have it chop onion, then add olive oil and set it to cook the onion while I get ready. Add risotto rice to toast it and then run to collect the children from school. I give it a stir, pour in the stock and help the children put away their things and in 12 minutes we have risotto.
The Bimby keeps the temperature constant so that the sauce cannot burn and egg based sauces do not coagulate. It stirs constantly so that the mixture is evenly heated which is perfect for risotto, pastry cream, hollandaise sauce and béchamel. I suppose if you factor in the price differential between cooking at home from scratch or ordering take away or ready meals, the Thermomix probably pays for itself within a few months and you will be healthier for it.
6. Wine Folly by Madeline Puckette
I have to admit that I did buy myself a little Christmas present this year which I love. I love Wine Folly’s website with their beautiful and clear graphics so when their first book came out, I was always going to buy it. It is the perfect gift for anyone who loves wine, whether a beginner or expert oenophile.
What foodie gifts did you receive or give in the past that were well loved? Please share and comment below.