WASHINGTON — Puzzled over what to gift the people on your holiday shopping list who like to cook, bake, eat and otherwise obsess over food?
Bonnie Benwick is here to help.
The deputy food and recipe editor at The Washington Post shared some of her favorite cookbooks, kitchen gadgets and culinary experiences for the food lovers in your life:
According to Benwick, 2018 was a hallmark year for cookbooks — especially for seasoned chefs and authors. One of Benwick’s top picks is “ Everyday Dorie,” by Dorie Greenspan, which she said is packed with “really doable recipes” that have a bit of French influence (since Greenspan calls both Paris and the U.S. home). Another favorite is the latest cookbook from British author and food personality Nigella Lawson, called “ At My Table.”
“And while we’re across the pond, I would also [recommend] Diana Henry’s ‘ How to Eat a Peach,’” said Benwick, who added that the book, filled with menus and stories, is “beautifully written.”
“It’s just the kind of cookbook that I like to have on my bedside table,” Benwick said.
(Courtesy Ellen Silverman)
((Courtesy Ellen Silverman) )
If there’s a meat lover on your list, check out first-time cookbook author Matty Matheson. Benwick said his self-titled cookbook has “a lot of voice and personality.” Plus, the Canadian chef has a genius way to prepare a head of cauliflower.
(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food & Wine)
If you’re planning to get someone a cookbook and want to include a little something extra, Benwick recommends flipping to the book’s resource page and gifting one of the staple pantry ingredients recommended. If an author prefers a specific type of tahini or a hard-to-find spice, for instance, consider including a jar of that brand. Benwick said it’s “a little push to get somebody to crack open that book and cook in it.”
Of course, one of the hot-ticket items last holiday season was the Instant Pot, and chances are, the multicooker will show up under plenty of trees again this year. Benwick said there are a number of cookbooks, featuring all different cuisines, that help Instant Pot owners learn to use the appliance. One of her favorites is “ Instantly Southern,” by Sheri Castle. In addition to well-written recipes, Benwick said readers will appreciate the author’s sense of humor.
Need additional cookbook recommendations?
(AP/Cheyenne Cohen) Check out Benwick’s full list of favorites from 2018 in The Washington Post.
There’s no shortage of kitchen gadgets out there, but Benwick said one tool every home cook can use is a fish spatula, which she described as having a thin and flexible metal blade. Benwick said it’s especially good at getting under something, such as a fish filet or frittata, without risking unwanted sticking.
“And I use it for everything: I use it for flipping pancakes, I use it for anything that you want to get a handle under,” Benwick said.
Also useful in the kitchen is a quarter-sheet pan, which Benwick said is inexpensive and can be used to cook anything — from cookies, to chickens, to pies. Yes, pies. The Washington Post contributor and local author Cathy Barrow goes in depth on how to make sheet-pan pies in her new book, “ Pie Squared.”
Consider helping your foodie friend stock the pantry. Benwick said a small collection of finishing salts is always nice — “It’s a really good depth-of-flavor kind of ingredient to have” — as is a jar of infused honey, such as a hot honey.
“That is just the sort of great thing to drizzle on top of oven-fried chicken or over a flank steak — it’s a really kind of lift-all-boats ingredient,” she added.
Then, there’s always the gift of experience. CulinAerie on 14th Street hosts a number of cooking classes each week, including a Friday date night, as does Hill Center, which offers classes from French cooking to cookie baking. Another idea is a membership to the Smithsonian, which comes with first dibs on demos, tastings and evening events.
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