Here are some of my recommendations for Christmas presents for food and drink enthusiasts. There’s something to suit all budgets here.
Wine puzzle: wines of Italy
Recently when I got out of hospital, my dad came over to look after me. I suggested doing this puzzle which had a map of Italy with all the wine regions. My dad got right into it, and then all of my family joined in. Suddenly I had visitors every day–to see me? Er nope – to do the puzzle. I’m going to buy more, in fact everyone in my family will get one. I love that you get to learn about the country, see the geography and improve your knowledge of wine and where it come from.
British dairy hamper from Hollis Mead Organic Dairy
Christmas is the time for hampers – good stuff to eat and drink in a wicker basket is always a joy. Hollis Mead is an award-winning organic dairy based in Dorset. In this hamper you get their gorgeously rich triple cream brie ‘Benville’, a truffled version, hand-rolled butter log, Greek-style yoghurt, creme fraiche and natural yoghurt. I like the look of the cottage cheese too.
Although you can build your own bundle from £13, this group of products costs around £60.
British-made foundry ware from Netherton Foundry
Netherton Foundry in Shropshire has been cropping up on my social media feeds for several years. All the best cooks use their cast iron pans, people like Nigella and Rachel Roddy. I love this bonfire pan from their ‘Crochta’ range: cast iron with a hook. Just need a tripod to hang it over my bonfire now. This 6 inch pan costs £93.70
Netherton also do copper pans. I love to cook on copper: it’s beautiful and conducts the heat fantastically. It’s a lifetime purchase. If you cost it up every time you use it over a lifetime, it’s a bargain. I try to cook always with copper or cast iron. I’ve even had some of my old copper ware re-tinned. This 5 and a 1/2 inch pan costs £214. A very special present.
Every kitchen should have a couple of rubber spatulas. For scraping down your cake mix but also for stirring sauces in hot pans. This dark green one with a wooden handle is lovely, on trend and only £4.50
Hot sandwich maker
How cute is this? And it comes with lots of different attachments to make waffles, tartlets, doughnuts, taiyaki fish moulds. Why are so many kitchen devices ugly in grey, steel or black? Genius Singaporean design here from Bruno Hot Sand Maker which comes in pink, lilac or red in retro metal. Not cheap but very cool.
I’ve been testing out lots of recipes on grilled sandwich makers recently and they are so useful. Recipes will appear in a subsequent post.
With all the different plate options: £229.40p or £23 a plate
Souschef.co.uk is one of my favourite food product sites. You can count on their specialist knowledge to hunt down the latest foods, ingredients and kitchen devices.
I’m a member of the ‘get yourself a bloody rice cooker’ church. Everyone in Asia has one and you should too. This rice steamer is pink and white, very ‘kawaii’ and doesn’t take up much kitchen counter real estate. Remember you can cook couscous, quinoa, bulgur wheat as well as rice. Bung some veg, fish or meat on top of your rice or have a go at making gyoza in it. I’ve also used it to make porridge which turns out creamy and just right.
A rice steamer is the one kitchen gadget my daughter wanted when she went to uni. She’d steam some rice, open a can of tuna, add a little soy sauce and that was her dinner. She didn’t have to brave the communal kitchen.
Tinned fish subscription
Tinned fish is a pantry staple: sardines on toast, a quick tuna salad, some anchovies draped over grilled red peppers (à la Piedmontese). I also love the packaging. I think subscriptions are a lovely gift, I wish people would get me some (hint hint), because it’s a present that lasts all year.
Wind-up digital scales
Sorry it looks a bit grubby in the photo. That’s cos I’ve used them so much. So many times my digital scales have run out of battery in the middle of baking something. This will never happen with these – you turn the knob to ‘charge’ the battery. Brilliant, eco gadget. Essential for all serious bakers. From Lakeland, only £19.99
For years I didn’t ‘get’ panettone, wondering what the fuss was about. So many panettone are dry and a bit tasteless. Souschef know their panettone and have a huge selection. I’ll be taking this one, beautifully wrapped, to Christmas dinner with the family. This was rated panettone of the year by The Times. Available from souschef.co.uk £24.99