The ChefSteps 2015 Gift Guide

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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.

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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.

 

Introducing Joule: A Letter From Chris Young

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

Joule is small enough to fit in a drawer with your knives. We think you’ll use it just as often.

Revolutions have to start somewhere.

Despite massive advances in computing and the internet, globalization and manufacturing, the kitchen has largely been left behind. We’re going to change that.

In the last few years, ChefSteps has created and shared over 700 video-based recipes, which you’ve viewed over 50 million times from nearly every country in the world. And for those of you who’ve watched our videos or cooked our recipes, it won’t come as a surprise that we think sous vide has a big role to play in revolutionizing the kitchen.

The more we listened to your feedback, the more it became clear that many of you wanted a better sous vide cooking experience. We challenged ourselves to reimagine sous vide from the ground up, to create a tool that would inspire and empower cooks at every skill level and make sous vide a real part of today’s kitchen.

So we built it. And we call it Joule.

Joule represents three years of listening and reacting to your feedback, testing with community members, and inventing and reinventing until we got it right. But this is just the beginning. We built Joule for you, and we’re incredibly excited to get it into your hands, learn from your experiences, and decide what comes next. And yes, I’m being sincere when I say Joule is for you, and for every single cook in the ChefSteps community.

We hope Joule will encourage you to continue believing in the magic of the kitchen and sharing in the ritual of cooking and eating with the people you love. Grant and I founded ChefSteps with a conviction that if we focused on making cooks happy through our work, then our business would thrive. Those of you who have worked in the restaurant industry will recognize this as the business of hospitality.

Gratefully,
Chris

PS. ChefSteps is truly a global community, and it’s important to us that we make Joule available to passionate cooks around the world. We’re working as fast as we can to bring it to you. If you’re interested in getting updates about availability in your country, go to chefsteps.com/joule and click “Keep Me Posted.”

Joule: claim yours now.

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Preorder Joule today and be among the first cooks to experience the future of sous vide.

Transformation Contest: We Have a Winner!

Tough choices! The team was totally charmed by all the Transformation contest entries.

Tough choices! The team was totally charmed by all the Transformation contest entries.

Last month we launched a contest all about transformation: taking cheap, overripe, or leftover ingredients and turning them into something delicious. We asked you to send us pictures or videos that demonstrated your favorite transformative techniques—those game-changing ideas that take something sleazy and turn it into something sexy. And oh boy, did you show up. We got over a hundred submissions, each completely unique, covering topics from butchery to baking, sous vide to food sculpture. You showed us how leftover carrot tops could become bright, beautiful pesto; how a freshly-hunted wild boar could become honey-baked ham; how some foraged clams could transform into a fragrant chowder. And that’s just the beginning. We spent days reviewing gorgeous modern plates, mouth-watering braises, and homemade charcuterie. Needless to say, we were amazed by the creativity, skill, and enthusiasm with which you attacked this project.

After much deliberation, we came up with a list of five runners-up and one winner. Given all the amazing entries, it was truly difficult to narrow it down. To thank you all for your amazing efforts, we’re offering each participant a free ChefSteps class. (We’ll be in touch about that soon.) Already purchased them all? Have we mentioned we love you? You can give the free class away as a gift.

Without further ado, let’s get to the results.

The Runners-Up

These five entries were all in the running for the big win.

Bjorn Storm, San Diego, CA
Transforming a storebought rotisserie chicken

 

Dayna Palmer, Hyde, MD
Gold chocolate bars

“I tempered dark chocolate via the seeding method,” writes cocoa whisperer Dayna Palmer, “melting the bloomed chocolate to approximately 38 degrees C, then adding tempered chocolate ‘seeds’—for nucleation sites—and stirring until the chocolate reached about 30 to 32 C. Once it reached this temperature, I cast a shell of this dark chocolate using a polycarbonate mold that I had painted with gold cocoa butter! I deposited the tempered dark chocolate into the mold, tapped out air bubbles, then emptied the excess chocolate so that just a shell was left to be filled.”

The results speak for themselves. You can see more of Dayna’s work at her Etsy shop, called Chocolate Theory.

Writes Palmer: "The before photo is untempered dark chocolate that has set with noticeable fat bloom!" The after images shows the spectacular gold candy bars she made from it. Photo courtesy of Dayna Palmer

Writes Palmer: “The before photo is untempered dark chocolate that has set with noticeable fat bloom!” The after images shows the spectacular gold candy bars she made from it. Photo courtesy of Dayna Palmer.

 

David Statman, Elmont, NY
Transforming mandarin and tangerine soy dipping sauce into soy candy

“What to do with leftover mandarin and tangerine soy dipping sauce?” asks transformer David Statman. “I first thought I would use it as a marinade to grill vegetables, but then inspiration struck and I knew what to do: Turn it into candy! I reduced the sauce on the stovetop and poured it onto a wannabe Silpat to cool and harden. These sweet and savory shards are quite potent, especially as the soy and ginger get more concentrated.”

So crafty! If we could reach into that picture and grab one of those treats, we’d be a happy crew.

Statman started with leftover mandarin-and-tangerine-soy dipping sauce. He transformed that sauce into shiny candies! Photo courtesy of David Statman.

Statman started with leftover mandarin-and-tangerine-soy dipping sauce. He transformed that sauce into shiny candies! Photo courtesy of David Statman.

 

Linas Zymantas, Chicago, IL
From oxtail to pho

Writes Zymantas: “I seared the oxtails and then added them to a stock pot with onion, carrot, daikon, ginger, and spices. I simmered the broth for about 12 hours until the oxtails were falling apart tender. The broth was seasoned appropriately, and the shredded oxtails went back into the super silky broth to make a delicious pho!”

Okay we’ll just admit it. The way to our hearts is oxtail pho. Forever. Every time.

Zymantas started with oxtail, an inexpensive tough cut, and transformed into gorgeous pho. Photo courtesy of Linas Zymantas.

Zymantas started with oxtail, an inexpensive tough cut, and transformed into gorgeous pho. Photo courtesy of Linas Zymantas.

 

Ryne Orechia, Kirkland, WA
Lamb shoulder dish

This Rainier Club cook gave his boss a shoutout, letting us know the chef there encourages creativity in the kitchen. And Orechia clearly takes advantage of the opportunity: he transformed tough lamb shoulder into a remarkable dish via the magic of sous vide. Watch him tell you how he did it in the video below, then check out his remarkable before and after.

Awesome, right? Now check out the pics.

Orechia took on one of our favorite tough cuts: flavor-packed lamb shoulder. He gently cooked the shoulder sous vide to create this lovely dish. Photo courtesy of Ryne Orechia.

Orechia took on one of our favorite tough cuts: flavor-packed lamb shoulder. He gently cooked the shoulder sous vide to create this lovely dish. Photo courtesy of Ryne Orechia.

And the winner is…

Teodosiy Teodosiev, Walnut Creek, CA
Amazing escargots

ChefSteps user Teodosiy Teodosiev stole the show with this incredible transformation featuring the slimy little fellas that populate gardens and sea rocks all over the world. Check out his stop motion video for the full contest-winning story.

Congratulations, Teo! We hope you enjoy that $500 worth of goodies that Grant plucked from the DeLaurenti shelves.

Ready to create your own amazing transformations? Sign up for Cooking Sous Vide: Beyond the Basics and discover incredible, easy techniques for making custards, carnitas for a crowd, Kung Pao ribs, and so much more.

The ChefSteps Transformation Contest: Show us yours.

 

This contest has closed! Big thanks to all who submitted photos, we’ll be announcing a winner soon. If you missed the deadline but still want to show off your stuff, please share it on the forum. We can’t wait to see what you’ve created.

Calling all cooks! We want to see how you get from sleazy to sexy—in the kitchen, that is.

This week, we’re releasing a meaty update to our comprehensive class Cooking Sous Vide: Beyond the Basics. It’s all about teaching you to transform cheap, tough cuts of meat—think chuck, shoulder, tongue—into amazing, flavor-packed steaks, braises, and deep-fried delicacies. To do this, we harness the power of sous vide cooking, selecting the perfect time-and-temperature settings to achieve the exact texture of our choice. It all adds up to game-changing recipes like Carnitas Tacos with Mole, Boeuf Bourguignon with Scallion Ash, and savory Beef Tongue Fritters.

But transformation is nothing new, right? When you take squishy, overripe berries and make a jewel-toned jam, you’re transforming compost fodder into a smooth, decadent spread. Same goes for aging tomatoes—the basis of so many amazing pasta sauces. Sushi chefs transform leftover tuna bits into maki-roll magic, while nose-to-tail types relish the challenge of turning stinky offal into melt-in-your-mouth delicacies.

But enough about those guys. This contest is about you.

In this class, we share our favorite transformation techniques, but now, we want to know yours. What’s your favorite way to take something inexpensive, overripe, leftover—whatever—and turn it into a killer dish, condiment, beverage, or ingredient?

What will you win?

We’ll select the idea that inspires us the most, and our team of chefs will send the winner a big basket that’s full of hand-selected amazing goodies for your kitchen (a $500 value), sourced from our favorite Pike Place Market shops.

How do you enter?

There are two easy ways:

1. Send us a short video of yourself explaining your favorite transformative technique or recipe. You can demo it, draw it, or just talk about it—no real rules, just be you.

2. Send us two photos—a “before” shot of the sleazy ingredient in question, and a second “after” image that shows how you transformed it. Include a brief description of what you did.

CONTEST JUST EXTENDED! Send video or images to info@chefsteps.com with subject line Transformation by 11:59 PST on Tuesday, May 5. We’ll announce a winner as soon as we get through them all.

So go on, show us yours. We can’t wait to see it.

Official contest rules:
Void where prohibited. No purchase required. You must be over 18.

Cooking and Recipe Ideas: 5 Ways to Get Inspired

 

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Not spending a lot of time in the kitchen? Don’t beat yourself up there buddy; it happens to the best of us. The antidote to that epicurean ennui? Re-inspire yourself with novel techniques and tools, a chatty community of fellow food enthusiasts, or a new look at old classics. Here, we’ve got a bunch of ideas that involve all those things. Let’s get cooking.

Treat yo’self to a new tool

Sous vide can help you create the tenderest meats and vegetables, sure, but did you know it’s also an awesome way to make no-fail Crème Brûlée? You can get started with sous vide using nothing more than a pot and a thermometer, but investing in an immersion circulator is the fastest way to master this convenient, highly predictable method. The good news is, they’re pretty cheap now. And once you’ve got yours, you can embark on an epic journey into the surprisingly wide world of this remarkable cooking technique.

Creme-Brulee

Remember a forgotten tool

You know that pressure cooker gathering dust in your pantry? Bust that out, clean it off, and start exploring amazing recipes and techniques like our Kung Pao Carnitas. And if you’ve got an immersion blender in need of work, put it to use making Green Pea Mash to go with Sous Vide Salmon—a complete dish that’s delicious, healthy, and ridiculously easy to prepare.

KungPao

Play with powders

Go modern with these five powders—all integral to creating novel textures and flavors in the kitchen. A good start: our Mayo No.4.

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Make some friends

Getting to know an online community of enthusiastic cooks is a great way to stay inspired. The ChefSteps forum, for instance, is full of recipe ideas—like the Breakfast Pizza pictured below, from Erin Z—beautiful images, and hard-to-find advice for ambitious food folk who want to take their skills to the next level.

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Rethink a classic

Maybe you’ve made many soufflés, maybe you’ve never attempted that airy, always-impressive dessert. Either way, follow in the footsteps of all the happy cooks who’ve found success with our foolproof Molten Chocolate Soufflé recipe.

Not into sugar? Then learn the art of restaurant-level meatwiches with our house specialty, the Au Jus Burger.

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Feeling fired up? Join ChefSteps today for hundreds of recipes, techniques, tips, and tricks. 

 

You’ve Got New Year’s Resolutions. We Can Help.

Jess Voelker Preparing Staff Meal

Feeling a little doughy and broke? You’re not alone. After a long, indulgent holiday, a lot of us are inspired to tighten up a bit in the New Year—exercise more, drink and spend less, step away from those leftover Christmas cookies. But don’t close down the kitchen just yet. Preparing your own food is one of the best ways to ensure you stick to a healthy eating plan, the sort of plan that you can maintain all year until next holiday season, when—don’t worry—you can resume the nog chugging and snickerdoodle snarfing once more. Whatever your food goals are, we want to inspire you to keep cooking (and learning!) in 2015. Check out our suggestions for delicious ideas on how to do just that.

Resolution 1: Follow the Paleo Diet

Devotees of this massively popular eating plan eschew dairy products, grains, legumes, processed oils, and refined sugar. The premise is that these foods weren’t readily available during the Paleolithic era, when the human body evolved nutritional needs in line with the foods they could access. By following a diet closer to what our prehistoric ancestors ate, Paleo people eat in a manner befitting the way their bodies developed, or so the logic goes. Whether or not you swallow all that is your business, but sticking to this protein-and-vegetable focused regime is one way to cut down on those empty calories that come from (glorious) carbs and (delectable) sweets. How to do it: Investing in a sous vide water bath or circulator can prove crucial in sticking to a protein-centric diet, as it allows you to cook delicious meats with little fuss. To test the method without having to invest in any equipment, consult our Sous Vide 101 class, which includes recipes for amazing salmon, pork chops, and steak, along with instructions on how to create a water bath with a pot on the stove and a digital thermometer.

Coffee Butter Steak with Spinach

Resolution 2: Eat more vegetables

We all know we need them. With vital nutrients that help keep away chronic diseases, vegetables are a crucial part of any healthy diet. Focusing on eating more plant foods—rather than trying to stay away from stuff you love (we’re looking at you, Paleo)—can be a great recipe for success. The key to sticking with it is to make those vegetables taste delicious, and that’s where we come in. How to do it: Easy to make and surprisingly satisfying, our Microwaved Radicchio Salad is anchored by warm, slightly wilted chicory leaves; an awesome source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. We dress them with rich buttermilk, verdant chive oil, funky blue cheese, and toasted hazelnuts. Speaking of the microwave, you can also use it to quickly cook up some mixed vegetables, then top those healthy fellas with some Bagna Càuda Foam.

Microwaved Radicchio  Salad

And at the risk of sounding repetitive, we should also point out the benefits of preparing veggies sous vide. You can achieve optimal chickpea texture (firmer for salads, softer for hummus) and maintain the vibrant crunch of kale. Carrots keep their color and signature sweetness, and tart red cabbage can be converted into a super-smooth purée that makes a great accompaniment to our pastrami.

Sous Vide Kale

Resolution 3: Eat breakfast everyday

Good one. Skipping breakfast is an easy way to wind up ravenous by the time that 11 AM meeting rolls around. Also, a morning meal sets a civilized tone for the day. How to do it: Learning to make awesome soft-poached eggs should inspire you to keep up the breakfast habit. Use our egg calculator to determine, then create, your perfect egg. And if you’re resolved to up your coffee game in 2015, be sure to consult our extensive Espresso class.

Egg White Hollandaise

Resolution 4: Spend less on food (but still eat well)

Look, we know how it is. Just like you, we’re constantly enticed by new restaurants, craft cocktail bars, and specialty shops stocked with the best ingredients. Trouble is, that stuff gets expensive. Is there a way to maintain your delicious-food lifestyle while spending a little less? Indeed. The trick is to find little ways to cut back so you can splurge on truly epic meals, tools, and culinary classes. How to do it: Pretty little microgreens are a super-impressive garnish for dinner-party dishes, and growing your own means you can afford to work them into weekday-morning smoothies or a salad to bring to work for lunch. Allow us to show you how—for free.

Microgreens

When you’re short on time, it’s tempting to order takeout for dinner—which adds up fast, and frankly often sucks. This is why we love having a pressure cooker handy. Flavor-packed braises and stews come out great in a fraction of the time they would take with other methods, and taste far better than most things that arrive at your door in a clamshell. Plus, you can use the cheapest cuts to create these comfort foods, as nothing transforms the tough stuff into succulent, velvety deliciousness as fast as a pressure cooker.

Chocolate and Mustard Stew

Ready to get cooking? Join ChefSteps today for one-of-a-kind recipes, tested techniques, and access to our lively forum.

The ChefSteps 2014 Gift Guide

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

10 Foods You Didn’t Know You Could Cook Sous Vide

Flourless Carrot Cake ChefSteps

Thinking about investing in sous vide equipment for your kitchen? Here at ChefSteps, we’re unabashed fans—we love the way sous vide requires little micromanagement, and predictably cooks all sorts of food. Sous vide recipes you find online tend to focus on steak and fish—two excellent options—but when it comes to cooking in a water bath, proteins are just the beginning. Read on for 10 of our favorite unexpected uses for sous vide. Got faves of your own? Go ahead and share them in the comments

1. Custards

Yup, you can prepare crème brûlée and other custardy desserts sous vide. We use it to create the carrot custard for our Flourless Carrot Cake—a sous vide recipe that’s gluten-free and about as modernist as they come.

Get the recipe: Flourless Carrot Cake

Carrot-custard-chefsteps

2. Purées

We like making purées well in advance—cooking them in a circulator is often the simplest way to do so. When it comes time to reheat them, it’s much easier to warm them in a sous vide bath than on the stovetop, where uneven heating sometimes means the purée near the heat is getting scorched while the portion near the surface is barely warm.

Get the recipe: Celery Root Purée

Celery-root-puree-ChefSteps

3. Burgers

Think we’re crazy for publishing a sous vide burger recipe? Don’t knock it ’til you’ve served a bunch of perfect patties to a large group, no grill-manning required.

Get the recipe: Beef Burger Patties

Sous-vide-burgers-ChefSteps

4. Flavored oils 

Got a recipe that calls for a flavored oil, but don’t want to pony up the cash for something you’ll probably only use once or twice? Make it at home instead. We cook flavored oil for three hours in a sous vide bath—yes, that’s far longer than most stovetop infusions call for, but the precise low temperature results in a flavorful oil that will keep for months.

Get the recipe: Thyme Oil

Thyme-Oil-ChefSteps

5. Cheese curds

Super-geeky, yet also super-great: using a SousVide Supreme to make your own squeaky cheese curds. You’ll need some funny ingredients, but how cool is it to be crafting curds like a pro in your own kitchen? And teachers, this would make an awesome classroom activity.

Get the recipe: Squeaky Cheese Curds

Poutine-ChefSteps

6. French fries

For these crispy-soft fries, we use a triple-cooking process made famous by British chef Heston Blumenthal. Once you recreate them at home, you’ll see why the method has set a new standard by which the world’s greatest French fries are judged.

Get the recipe: Thin-Cut French Fries

Thin-cut-French-fries-ChefSteps

7. Mashed potatoes

Think cooking sous vide means waiting a long time for your food? Well, er, often it does. But here’s an exception—you can make these rich, creamy mashed potatoes (or pomme purée, as chefs and French people call them) in 45 minutes flat.

Get the recipe: Pomme Purée

Mashed-potatoes-ChefSteps

8. Oysters

Weird but true: You can use sous vide to help you shuck oysters! Blanching oysters in a water bath at 140 °F / 60 °C for just a few minutes makes them easy to open. Time it right, and the oyster won’t cook but will wind up with a gorgeous plump appearance and an appealing firm texture that heightens their freshness. And because this technique makes it easy to pop the oyster open, you’re less likely to end up with shell debris floating in the salty brine surrounding the oyster.

Get the technique: Firming oysters

firming-oysters-ChefSteps

9. Stock

Using sous vide equipment to make stocks gives us the ultimate temperature control—for the richest, flavor-forward broth, we like to cook ours for a full day when time allows.

Get the recipe: Beef Stock

Beef-Stock-ChefSteps

10. Eggnog

Yup, not even this most traditional of holiday libations is safe from our relentless need to sous vide everything. But seriously, that time of year has enough stresses—instead of slaving over your egg-and-booze beverage, drop it in the bath and occupy yourself with the million other tasks at hand.

Get the recipe: Eggnog

Eggnog-ChefSteps
Join the ChefSteps community to get access to more than 100 sous vide recipes, talk sous vide with other enthusiasts on our lively forum, and get the first word on exciting new recipes, videos, and techniques. 

A Quick Announcement About Content

Camp the ChefSteps dog takes a nap.

Camp takes a quick break from a long research session.

Hello there, ChefSteps community. As you’ve likely noticed, our hard-working team of cooks, designers, writers, photographers, and musicians has settled into a pattern of delivering new content every Tuesday. This weekly schedule has allowed us to populate the site with tons of new content that, on the whole, you’ve responded to with great enthusiasm—which we appreciate greatly. We’ve been pushing hard to provide you with plenty of kitchen inspiration—from tips and tricks on how to level up your sous vide game, to a grow-your-own microgreens project and the launch of the ChefSteps Egg Calculator.

Recently, we began developing some ambitious new releases that we believe are shaping up to be among the best stuff we’ve produced yet. In the next few weeks you’ll get a thorough, behind-the-scenes account of how chefs design and plate their own dishes. Then, with the help of some of the best baristas and roasters in the biz, we’ll dig deep into the science of espresso—teaching you to pull perfect shots and make sexy latte art, among other things. After that, prepare for an epic launch of new sous vide content, featuring exclusive, essential information you won’t find anywhere else, period. Whether you’re just getting curious about this revolutionary cooking method or are looking to improve your already considerable skills, you’ll discover plenty there to enrich your sous vide experience.

But here’s the thing: Ensuring this content is the best it can be is going to require massive amounts of research, plus more photo and film shoots, writing, original graphics, and input and innovation from our kitchen than we’ve ever brought you before. Plus, we want to get better at supporting content once it has been published. So while you can continue to expect lots of new stuff from us, we will no longer be adhering to a strict weekly schedule. Stay tuned for more information, and don’t forget to explore the hundreds of recipes, techniques, and articles that currently populate the site. Get ready for some great stuff coming soon. We can’t wait to share it with you.

Midnight Snack Video: Daniel Humm – Avocado Prawn Roulade

From Nick CannellChef Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park prepares an avocado prawn roulade; demonstrating the exceptional presentation that can be achieved utilizing the sous vide technique. 

Credit and thanks to Daniel Humm, Nick Cannell, Patrick Cannell, and everyone else involved in the making of this video.

We hope you’ve enjoyed watching the Midnight Snack Video. Share it with friends and visit ChefSteps to enroll in our online classes, prepare a recipe from our recipe gallery, and share your experience with our friendly culinary community.