Monday, December 15, 2008

Gifts for Foodies

I heard that today could be the biggest online shopping day of the season. If you're still looking for gifts for your favorite foodie friends, I have some ideas. Everyone loves books, so I've suggested three of my recent favorites. Plus, there are some cool kitchen goodies and eclectic eats. And if you're thinking this is the year for homemade gifts, you'll find my picks at the very end. Happy gifting!

The Art & Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet, $32.00. This weighty, impressive book with plenty of full-color photos will delight your favorite baker. It's a well-rounded, comprehensive reference, and it's full of tips revealing "what the pros know." With plenty of sweet and savory recipes, it's a great collection. Get a taste of Mushet's familiar-with-a-twist style with this recipe for Butterscotch Pie on

The Spice Merchant's Daughter by Christina Arokiasamy, $19.77. Quite the opposite of the previous book, this is a small little jewel full of specialized recipes. Arokiasamy's mother ran a spice shop in Kuala Lumpur, and she weaves her stories in with her recipes with are tailored for American home cooks. A great gift for the cook who loves to dive into a particular cuisine and explore it in depth.

Fat by Jennifer Mclagan. $21.45. What a great idea...Mclagan tells us everything we ever wanted to know about fat, including how to exploit all its unique properties for our culinary enjoyment. There are tons of great recipes, from pâté (pork fat) to shortbread (butter). This is a book any cook, short of the truly fat-phobic, can enjoy. To learn more, read this interview with the author by fabulous food writer, Monica Bhide, on

File Folder Chopping Boards, $85.00. These are pricy, but I think the design is so cool!

Cuisinart Handheld Blender, $49.99. The kind of gadget you don't know you need until someone gives it to you as a holiday gift. It is so nice for pureeing soups--no more transferring to your blender in batches. And this model comes with a mini chopper--bonus!

Nigella Lawson Salt Pig, $16.95. I received this from my lovely husband last Christmas. I have no idea why it's called a "pig," but it's so cute, stylish and useful!

Rose Petal Preserves, $6.99. I love rose petal preserves, jams and jellies. They are popular in France, the Middle East, Greece and more, I'm sure. Unfortunately, they're tough to find in the United States. Definitely a fun stocking stuffer for foodies who always want to try new tastes.

Mustapha's Moroccan Harissa, $7.99. For heat lovers! A dollop of this spiced chile sauce can perk up tagines, roasted lamb, flatbread, and plenty of non-Moroccan dishes too.

Koeze Cream Nut Peanut Butter, $8.50. Sold through fab specialty foods retailer, Zingerman's, this natural, artisan peanut butter is described as "velvety" and "intense." I'd wrap it up with some of your favorite chocolate bars for a sort of d.i.y. chocolate-peanut butter experience.

Make it Homemade:

These chocolate capuccino cookies with cinnamon chips are my new favorite easy drop cookie since making them a couple weeks ago. Big shout out to Cookie Madness--these are keepers!

Russian Tea Cakes, Pecan Crescents, Mexican Wedding Cakes...I call my version of these easy, soft, buttery cookies Pecan Balls. They freeze well and are sturdy enough for gifting.

Spiced nuts are such a simple idea, it doesn't seem like they could be so addictively good. Make a few batches and package them in mason jars with pretty ribbons and you'll have a gift that will be well-appreciated.

Spritz cookies! Do you have a cookie press? I just bought one and I'm going to use this recipe. Just think about how much better your homemade butter cookies will be than anything your friends and loved ones can buy. And so cute!

Bacon Brittle. Enough said. That link will take you to the recipe, and I wrote about it here.


Katelyn said...

Thanks for all of the fun suggestions! I like the book revies a lot.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

What a wonderful assortment of gift ideas you have compiled, Julie. I love the name FAT for a cookbook. I'll be checking that one out. Happy Holidays, my dear!

Peabody said...

Fat is a great book. Good suggestions.

Alli411 said...

Good suggestions. I use my hand blender and salt pig often. The chopping boards are cute. Check out my foodie related gift list at

Anna said...

Hi Julie,

I meant to tell you this last week, but I saw your article in Vegetarian Times. It was the first issue I ever bought and I think I'm going to subscribe. Great job! Unfortunately, I learned I do not like quinoa recently. It tastes too much like okra.

Julie said...

Anna: Thanks! Do you rinse your quinoa before cooking. They say that some people detect a "soapy" flavor if they do not rinse the grains a few times. Of course there are lots of other healthy grains, but I love the texture (and flavor!) of quinoa.