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Counter Intelligence: Gifts for the kitchen are five-star winners

By April Hamilton
April Hamilton
On display is a collection of kitchen items that would make great holiday gifts.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- You're not alone if you haven't written your holiday gift list yet. Fear not. A gift for the kitchen never disappoints, and the options are endless. Whether you're shopping for a five-star chef, a happy home cook or a friend who is afraid to boil water, there is something for everyone on your list.

  • Great cutting boards are a wonderful gift. Pair a large board with a chef's knife or a smaller one with a cheese slicer and a wedge of delicious cheese. Handmade cutting boards can double as artwork -- holiday bonus!
  • Look no further than your local bookstore for cookbooks from timeless classics to new favorites, and basic how-to's to elaborate tomes. A treasured cookbook is an awesome gift. Inscribe it for a personal touch. (Special thanks to the staff at Taylor Books for curating a holiday cookbook collection.)
  • Everyone has a great time playing "Foodie Fight -- a Trivia Game for Serious Food Lovers" Gather 'round the table for hours of fabulous fun. Pass the popcorn!
  • Cast-iron cookware won't break the bank and lasts forever. Attach a favorite handwritten recipe and instructions for cleaning and "seasoning" the cookware to ensure years of use.
  • No kitchen is complete without a salad spinner. There are dozens of models in every price point. Pair this practical gift with a nice bottle of olive oil and the recipient's favorite salad recipe.
  • An immersion blender is indispensable for pureeing soups and sauces. This wonder tool makes cooks very happy, saving time and cleanup.
  • Pretty printed flour-sack towels double as wrapping paper. Wrap a rolling pin or a cookie sheet and cooling rack for two gifts in one.
  • Share the love of cooking. Invite friends or family over for a memorable meal that you all cook together. This is way better than takeout and more relaxing than doing it all yourself.
  • Dressed in the Bowl Tossed Salad

    This is a great starting point for a quick salad. The dressing can be changed to go with the flavors in your entrée. Use the freshest salad greens you can get your hands on. Also, marinating onions in vinegar cuts their bite. Remember this trick whenever a recipe calls for raw onion. Unless the recipe calls for vinegar, just drain it off before using the onions. Makes 4 servings.

    1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced

    1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or balsamic

    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

    1 teaspoon mustard

    1/2 cup rinsed and drained canned chickpeas (optional)

    1 large bunch fresh salad greens, rinsed, spun and torn into bite-size pieces

    1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

    STIR together in a large salad bowl the onion, the vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, and the mustard. Toss in the chickpeas, if using.

    LET stand for about 15 minutes.

    ADD the salad greens to the bowl when ready to serve, and drizzle with olive oil. Toss, taste and adjust seasoning, if desired.

    April Hamilton has always said, "Cooking is fun!" She shares her easy, practical recipes for delicious food through her cooking classes for kids and families. April's husband and three daughters help with testing and tasting in their Charleston kitchen. April would love to hear from you: Email aprilskitchencounter@gmail.com.


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