The ChefSteps 2015 Gift Guide

MK3_9487-3

Got people on your list who love to cook? Perfect. Here are some things your fellow food lovers will freak out over—tools, books, and a couple ChefSteps exclusives on specialty ingredients like salmon and white truffles. Congratulations, friend, you’re about to become a holiday hero.

OBJECTS OF DESIRE

We built Joule to fit seamless in today's kitchen. It fits in a drawer with your knives and your spatula, and you'll use it just as often.

Joule, Our Very Own Sous Vide Tool
We’re so excited that Joule—our first kitchen tool—is available for preorder this holiday season. We built Joule because we believe that sous vide has a central role in the kitchen, and it can help you get creative, throw amazing parties (that you’ll actually get to enjoy since you won’t have to babysit the food), and cook your family wholesome, delicious meals every night of the week. Unlike other sous vide tools on the market, Joule is small enough to fit in a top drawer, and clicks into your metal pot via a powerful magnet. You control it with your smartphone, and it comes with a groundbreaking app that’s full of amazing cooking guides and recipes. Sure we’re a little biased, but we honestly believe it’s going to fundamentally change the way people cook. So what are you waiting for? Give the gift of Joule!

Cooking Sous Vide: Beyond the Basics

Go Premium
When you give ChefSteps Premium, you’re giving the lucky cooks on your list access to all of our in-depth classes, plus any future Premium recipes, classes, and special offers. They’ll make macarons, dive deep into sous vide cooking, learn how to brew the perfect cup of coffee, and discover the many incredible things you can do with a whipping siphon. (Think fizzy cocktails, elegant liqueurs, and homemade bitters.) Really, though, you’re giving them the chance to master the simple and advanced techniques they need to take their cooking to the next level—so don’t be surprised if they serve you up something incredible to say thanks.

Gift-Guide-201503

Handmade Beauties
We love the earthy warmth of Akiko Graham’s pottery, and we’re really proud to see these Seattle-made gems gracing tabletops in some of the Bay Area’s greatest restaurants (think Coi, Manresa, the Slanted Door), as well as Seattle’s own Canlis and Café Juanita. What’s most important, however, is how beautiful your own favorite dishes will look on it when you and your family sit down to dinner.

A BOUNTY OF BOOKS

Cookbook Collection

Gjelina
Whenever anyone asks us to recommend restaurants in Los Angeles, Gjelina, in Venice, is always at the top of the list. Chef Travis Lett has a serious way with vegetables, transforming stuff like kale and carrots into incredibly delicious small plates. While the recipes in his new cookbook can be time consuming, we think you’ll find them worth the effort once you serve up homemade rye pasta or the restaurant’s Chicken and Escarole Soup.

The Mission Chinese Food Cookbook
Lucky Peach editor Chris Ying cowrote this one with Chef Danny Bowien—it’s a great read, bringing to life the fascinating history of the Mission Chinese Food restaurants in a vivid, engaging style. What we’re saying is, we’d love this book even if it didn’t come with step-by-step directions for Bowien’s Ma Po Tofu and Kung Pao Pastrami. But it does. And they’re amazing. So buy one for the curious foo—actually, you know what? Pick up two copies. You’re going to want one for yourself, too.

Sea and Smoke
Award-winning food and travel journalist turned ChefSteps writer Joe Ray headed up to the San Juan Islands a few years back to team up with two-time James Beard Award–winner Blaine Wetzel of the Willows Inn to pen Sea and Smoke. The result, highlighted by photographer Charity Burggraaf’s stunning photos, is a collection of stories about the incredible effort that goes into running a world-class restaurant, followed by a set of meticulously tested recipes from the Willows. Joe likes to call it “a little love song to the Pacific Northwest”—and it’s a beautiful song indeed.

Tacos: Recipes and Provocations
We’re a little obsessed with tacos—you don’t wind up with a recipe for Kung Pao Carnitas without spending some serious time pondering the possibilities of this awesome street food. For the obsessive in your life, Tacos: Recipes and Provocations—a collaboration between chef Alex Stupak and writer Jordana Rothmanserves up plenty of awesome party-food ideas, from simple salsas to from-scratch tortillas.

Forager’s Cocktails
Let’s be honest: it takes a certain kind of cocktail lover to go out foraging for imbibable ingredients. But trust us when we say that Amy Zavatto’s book will have you on your hands and knees in your backyard in no time, furiously rummaging for sassafras root. After all, who wouldn’t want a Wild Onion Gimlet in spring, a Mulberry Smash in the summer, or a chamomile-infused genever to get you through the cooler months? Whether it calls for rosemary from your herb box or wild roses from a hike, Forager’s Cocktails is brimming with brilliant—and realistic—ideas.

Inside Chefs’ Fridges, Europe
The first thing you’ll notice about Inside Chefs’ Fridges, Europe is the imagery: Carrie Solomon’s striking, full-page photos of the chaos and order inside the real-life refrigerators of chefs like Massimo Bottura and Yotam Ottolenghi make up most of the book, but Adrian Moore’s simple, funny stories round it out into a delightful, oddly addictive addition to any cookbook collection.

 

AMAZING FLAVORS

Lummi Island Wild

Salmon from Lummi Island Wild: Exclusive ChefSteps Offer
People in the Pacific Northwest are psycho about salmon, and Lummi Island Wild is the best of the best. They catch their salmon by reefnetting, a unique, time-tested technique that’s humane and consumes almost no fossil fuel. Normally, you’d need to be in a buying club to get your hands on their stuff, but just for you, they’ve created a ChefSteps–exclusive cedar gift crate, filled with frozen samples of every type of salmon they catch. 

Alba White Truffles

The Real Thing: 15% Off the World’s Best White Truffles through Dec 31
For serious cooks, truffles are the holy grail. Their exquisite perfume transforms a dish into something regal and almost otherworldly. Our friend Tyler Gray of Mikuni Wild Harvest set up a ChefSteps–exclusive promo code—CS15ALBA—for a 15 percent discount on Alba truffles. Order now through December 31, 2015.

TERRIFIC TOOLS

Japanese Knife Collection

Look Sharp: ChefSteps’s Own Collection of Handmade Japanese Blades
Give someone on your list the gift of hand-crafted steel, and they’ll love you for life. Beyond looking pretty dang badass, these essential tools make once-menial tasks both fun and satisfying. Choose any of the awesome Japanese blades in our collection (all sourced from Epicurean Edge in Kirkland, Washington) and you’ll have one very happy prep cook this holiday season.

Sharpening Stone Set

Stay Sharp: ChefSteps’s Curated Sharpening Set
Even the best knives eventually need a bit of TLC. The ChefSteps Sharpening Set, which we designed with the aforementioned Epicurean Edge, can bring even a dinged-up blade to a razor-sharp high polish. Giving the set to a newbie? Suggest our free Knife Sharpening class—starring Daniel O’Malley, owner of Epicurean Edge—to go along with it.

Staub Cast Iron Cookware
We can’t get enough of these gorgeous, heavy-duty cast iron pots from Alsace. At once homey and elegant, they invoke the rustic, invigorating spirit of the storied culinary region and are as high performing as they are pretty. Whether they’re roasting a whole chicken or just need a sweet-yet-chic serving dish for Pomme Purée, the cooks on your list will go nuts for the lovely cast iron line from Staub.

Boos Cutting Boards

Meet the Board
Cutting boards have presence and personality. Look in any serious home cook’s kitchen, and you’ll find his collection, well cared for and ever within arm’s reach. Our favorites are made by John Boos—they’re always at least an inch and a half thick and come in luxurious woods like maple, cherry, and walnut.

 

Whipping Siphons

Whip It Good
There’s a lot of serious gear in our kitchen, but a whipping siphon is one thing everybody loves. What keeps us coming back to it? Versatility. Yes, it can make fantastic whipped cream and savory foams, but you can also use it to create amazing fizzy fruit, sumptuous strawberry soda, and quick cold brew. Point the lucky recipient to our Whipping Siphons class for tons more ideas, and be sure to make yourself available for taste-testing.

 

The ChefSteps 2014 Gift Guide

Gift_Guide__1_MK3_9857

Finding great gifts for the culinary enthusiasts in your life can be daunting. What, for instance, do you buy the modernist gadget-hound who seems to own every kitchen tool imaginable? The culinary school hopeful looking to refine her skills? Or your bachelor brother who’s all about his Paleo diet?

If you watch ChefSteps videos, you’ve seen our development kitchen in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. This window-lined culinary lab is stocked with great stuff that our chefs have discovered over years working in the best restaurant kitchens around the world. Here, we’re sharing the tools and accessories that help us create signature recipes like our Molten Chocolate Soufflé and Sous Vide Pastrami. This curated collection is designed to offer something for a range of cooks—from newbies to pros, old-school to majorly modern. Read on to discover a gift to delight your favorite kitchen tinkerers, then hit up the site for all sorts of one-of-a-kind recipes you can share with them. Happy holidays—let’s start shopping.

FUN NEW GADGETS

A Whipping Siphon (plus accessories) and Companion Class

Gift Guide_Whipping Siphons_3a

You know those fancy whipped cream canisters you see at good coffee shops? Well, those so-called siphons—we recommend the Isi Gourmet Whip—can do all sorts of stuff beyond just creating a fluffy topping for your caffè mocha. You can garnish dishes with colorful foams; serve fizzy cocktails at your next dinner party; make your own bitters, liqueurs, sodas, or cold-brew coffee; and much more. If you have a cocktailian or mad experimenter on your list, help her advance her skills with this truly unique gift.

An Immersion Circulator and Helpful Sous Vide Classes

immersion circulator_2 copy

Sous vide is a cooking technique in which food is cooked slowly and gently in a water bath. In restaurants, chefs use it all the time to create tender meats and vegetables and yield predictable results conveniently. Now it’s the home cooks’ turn. In recent months, a crop of new affordable machines known as immersion circulators have appeared on the market. Among the options, one of our favorites is the Anova Precision Cooker, which retails for $179. They’re selling faster than the company can make them—if your giftees have to wait, send them to our Cooking Sous Vide: Getting Started class, which is free and will teach them how to use an improvised method until their machines are ready. Once their circulators arrive, they can learn the theory and techniques that chefs use to take their cooking to a whole new level with Sous Vide: Beyond the Basics.

BOMB BLADES AND ACCESSORIES

A Durable, Inexpensive, Japanese Mandoline

mandoline_5

We use mandolines all the time to get thin, evenly sliced vegetables. And while it’s possible to spend a lot of money on an expensive model that requires a lot of careful cleaning, we keep returning to the plastic Benriner model from Japan. It’s built for the long haul and easy to use. And for just over 20 bucks, the price is hard to beat. Know a cook who is always struggling to get skinny veg slices with his knife? Stuff it in his stocking (along with a copy of this Red Onion Jam recipe).

A Hand-Forged Japanese Knife and Sharpening Stone Kit

knife_1

The recent death of legendary, third-generation knifemaker Mr. Tsuneo Yoshida signals the end of an era, and makes his gorgeous stainless steel chef’s knives all the more rare and special—once they’re sold, no more can be made. This is a gift of extraordinary significance that is also a remarkably useful and beautiful kitchen tool. Throw in the sharpening stone kit to help your loved one keep that knife sharp for a lifetime.

A Great Cutting Board
Cutting boards come in all shapes and sizes, materials and prices. We’ve found none we love more than the inexpensive, well-made workhorses from John Boos.

THE BEST BOOKS

Awesome Eye Candy

alexandre Gauthier_3a

Alexandre Gauthier is chef at La Grenouillére, a seasonally driven restaurant housed in a 16th century French farmhouse. His new book is game-changing and gorgeous, with dazzling cutaway shots and wilderness pics, plus tons of ideas for anyone who appreciates an artistic flair in the kitchen.

For Foundational Recipes

astrance_3a

The long-awaited book from Parisian chef Pascal Barbot, Astrance—which came out in 2012 but still feels exciting and fresh—is a collection of narrative recipes that take the reader inside the kitchen at three-Michelin-star L’Astrance. It’s a gorgeous and inspiring publication that includes a separate booklet of step-by-step recipe instructions that allow home cooks to create incredible dishes in their own kitchens. A must-have for aspiring culinarians of all levels.

A Technical Tome
Many technical cooking books cost hundreds of dollars and prove unsuitable when it comes to extracting practical takeaways, thanks to inscrutable infographics and a superfluence of scientific jargon. Enter The Kitchen As Laboratory, edited by César Vega, Job Ubbink, and Erik van van der Linden. With techniques and recipes that range from grilled cheeses to jellified beads, this essential volume is both educational and inspirational.

SUPERIOR STOCKING STUFFERS

A Pro-Style Apron

apron_1
When the ChefSteps YouTube commenters aren’t remarking on the sexiness of our chef team, they’re often asking what aprons they wear. Use the holiday as a chance to help your favorite cook stock up on some pro apparel.

A Coffee Subscription

COFFEE

A great companion gift to a new espresso or other coffee machine: a coffee subscription from our favorite roaster, Herkimer. Also, now tell your caffeinated loved one to check out our free Espresso class to learn the ins and outs of extraction.

A Digital Scale

scale

When we cook, we weigh everything. It’s not only more accurate than measuring by volume, it’s just easier. A digital scale is a great gift for helping your favorite cook yield better results every time. The one we use is a little pricey, but is very precise and durable—a great gift for a seasoned cook who will make frequent use of such a tool. Beginners might opt for a cheaper model to get started—they’re available at every price point.

A Thermocouple Probe and Two-Channel Reader

probe_5

When you give the gift of a thermocouple technology, you’re significantly helping to reduce stress in the kitchen—not to mention the wasted food that comes from overcooking. Perfect food, every time: if there’s a better holiday offering than that, we want to hear about it.

Just Desserts: Five Sweet Recipes for the Holiday Season

 

Five Sweet Recipes For The Holiday Season

Classic
Want to be a holiday hero? Bring our Pecan Pie to the party. We’re talking ooey-gooey nutty filling; rich, bourbon and vanilla notes; tender, flaky crust—this thing brings new meaning to the term crowd pleaser.

Chefsteps_pecan_pieFive Sweet Recipes For The Holiday SeasonGooey, with notes of bourbon and vanilla, this pecan pie is bound to go over well.

Easy  
If you want to serve dessert but already feel maxed out with appetizers and mains, consider serving wine-poached pears. They’re an elegant solution that leaves your guests feeling sated without adding a lot of labor.

red_wine_pear_Five Sweet Recipes For The Holiday SeasonRed Wine Roached Pears are simple, but still worthy of a special occasion.

Novel
In search of something surprising this year? We guarantee your guests are not expecting you to serve a fruity take on Italian minestrone soup. Like that versatile vegetable potage, our sweet spin can be adapted to seasonal or locally available produce. And dang, is it pretty.

fruit Minestrone Five Sweet Recipes For The Holiday Season Fruit minestrone? Yup, it’s a thing now.

Nostalgic
Don’t be intimidated by deconstructed desserts—just work through each step carefully and you’ll wind up with a beautiful presentation that always exceeds expectations. This take on the classic orange creamsicle will trigger sweet summertime memories while simultaneously showing off your plating prowess.

Orange Creamsile_Five Sweet Recipes For The Holiday Season This modern take on a kid favorite makes for a cheerful holiday dessert.

Festive
For something more classic, but equally impressive, serve our foolproof Molten Chocolate Soufflé—as is, or filled with decadent Crème Anglaise.

souffle Five Sweet Recipes For The Holiday SeasonMolten Chocolate Soufflé never fails to wow at a holiday feast.

For more great recipes, plus access to our lively forum of curious and engaging cooks, join the ChefSteps community today.