No more spaghetti-measurers, spiralisers or egg-poachers. It’s time for the real gift deal. Here are 10 of the best gifts that the home cook in your life will really want this Christmas.
1. Rocket & Squash Hubbard Apron
A bit of a misnomer is your average white-striped ‘butcher’s’ apron – their tendency to wear, tear, and fade in the wash means prolific home cooks get through as many as they do boiled eggs. Fortunate then that food authority Ed Smith of Rocket & Squash has teamed up with apron stitchers Enrich & Endure to provide chefs with a certain handcrafted heavy-Irish-linen solution to the problem.
2. Blenheim Forge Santoku Chef’s Knife
From £230, blenheimforge.co.uk
When knife making moved from the traditional hammer and furnace to robots and factories, virtually all romance was lost in the process. But there are a handful of craftsmen taking things back to its pre-industrial ways. One of them is Peckham-based Blenheim forge, whose beautiful hand-forged knives have many a tatted chef go weak at the knees.
3. Crane C1 Cast Iron Casserole Dish
Crane’s cookware is pretty much indestructible. More than just something which’ll brew a good stew, it’s the sort of thing that gets passed from generation to generation. Plus, it’s made from up to 30% recycled material and is recyclable when finished with. Designed in the UK and made by hand in France, this makes a mighty handsome gift.
4. Hobbs House Bakery 62-year-old Sourdough Starter
As the label suggests, starters are what’s needed to get the sourdough baker’s ball rolling. While many dough-punchers among us will have one at home that’s a few years old, few can say they have one approaching its 63rd birthday. To mark the occasion, Hobbs House throw a special shindig every June. A fridge-proud gift that keeps on giving if there ever was one.
5. Konro Grill / Yakitori Barbecue Grill
All good chefs know there’s no compromise to food cooked over a wood or charcoal fire. All good chefs also know that dragging the barbeque indoors is a little conspicuous. Enter the Yakitori – also known as the Konro – grill. With a bit of ventilation – and the right hacks! – it’s the best way to achieve that smoky umami wherever you are. Heston swears by it.
6. Netherton Foundry Spun Iron Frying Pan
From £47, netherton-foundry.co.uk
Heavier spun or cast iron is superior to aluminium cookware in a host of ways: it’s hard-wearing, provides a better sear, and when taken care of, is naturally non-stick and synthetic-free. If the home cook in question hasn’t already upgraded their inventory to cast/spun iron yet, they’ll soon be wondering why.
7. The Pizza Steel Baking Steel
There’s a school of thought which recommends using a pizza stone and baking steel to achieve the best home oven pizza. If you were to choose one over the other, it should be a slab of baking steel, in all its 7 kilogram glory. Steel heats up faster and gives pizza bases a better all-round crisp – one of the main pizza-perfecting challenges, as any domestic pizzaolo will tell you. Good for bread baking, too.
8. Hecho Cast Iron Tortilla Press
Arguably, there’s no versatile substitute to the tortilla for carrying an exotic, flavour-packed filling such as al pastor and lime-soaked guac. Without many mouths to feed, tortilla presses aren’t essential, but with a little maintenance they do make the job a lot easier (and more fun). The downside? Not every chef has room for this bulky beast.
9. Imperia Pasta Roller
Perfecting pasta is one of any budding chef’s potentially greatest achievements, not made any easier with the absence of a pasta roller (trust me, I’ve tried it). Imperia churn out some of the best value rollers – with various settings, from spaghettini to ravioli – specifically for when store-bought dried pasta just won’t do.
10. Bread Ahead Doughnut Making Workshop
Learn the secrets behind making London’s most famous doughnuts or, as they’re customarily referred to, ‘custard grenades’. Yes, one gets plied with doughnuts, and yes, this means the said home cook will have to leave his or her kitchen, but hey, you’ll both (hopefully) get to reap the sweet, sweet rewards.