Suggestions for people who love to cook or eat!
We’re lucky over here in the Constantly Cooking kitchen that we’re often invited to try new products. From cookbooks to gadgets to appliances to edible items, we’re always eager testers! If we opt to recommend something, it’s either because it’s truly delicious, or it performed well in our rigorous trial process and we feel it will add value to someone else’s kitchen arsenal. Below are a few items we found this year that have made the grade and just might be the perfect gift option for someone you know this holiday season.
Philips Viva Pasta Maker
This compact unit is surprisingly powerful and really simple to use. Simply use the measuring cups provided to add the correct amount of flour, eggs and water. Turn it on, and in just a few moments it will have mixed the dough and will start extruding your chosen shape of pasta (spaghetti, fettuccine or penne). The whole process takes less than 20 minutes and the pasta cooks in about 3 minutes. Shake up your pasta routine by experimenting with the many varieties outlined in the recipe book, included. Available at Canadian Tire and other major retailers.
All the Sweet Things Cookbook
This is the kind of cookbook that I will continue to read from cover to cover, many times over. Full of warm and clever writing, luscious recipes and spectacular photos, it is sure to inspire any baker or even those who just fancy a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Written by popular Saskatoon baker and food blogger Renee Kohlman (of sweetsugarbean fame), the book deservedly captured gold in the single subject category at this fall’s Taste Canada Awards. Available at Chapters/Indigo and other major book retailers.
These artisanal chocolates, made in Toronto, are as delicious as they are gorgeous. Pictured here are the Aura Collection, CXBO’s new line of vegan chocolates (made from plant-based fat, cashews and coconut milk) and the Fireside Collection, a delightfully boozy line made in partnership with Corby Spirit’s Lot 40 Whiskey. Available in Ottawa at Jacobsons Gourmet Concepts.
Philips Soup Maker
It may look like an unassuming kettle-type device but it’s so much more. Ideal for people who want to make healthier meals from scratch, it’s as easy as just putting raw ingredients including vegetables and meat into the pot (the accompanying cookbook is great if you’re not a fan as I am of ‘clean out the fridge’ soups), then selecting 1 of the 6 pre-set programs (purée, chunky, cold, compote, smoothies, and milk-based soup). Walk away and let the sturdy machine with its built-in blending feature do all the work! In less than 20 minutes you’ll have perfectly cooked soup, piping hot if that’s what you wanted, and only one pot to clean up. Available at Home Hardware and other major retailers.
Torres Gourmet Potato Chips
Marilyn Munroe’s character in The Seven Year Itch taught me that champagne and potato chips are a match made in heaven. Why not treat someone to a bottle of great bubbly paired with a few bags of gourmet potato chips? Torres chips come from Spain and are available in a wide range of flavours – our favourites are Iberian Ham and Black Truffle – but you really can’t go wrong with any of them. Available in Ottawa at Kitchenalia.
Cole & Mason Mini Salt and Pepper Grinders
The Cole & Mason 2.5 inch Mini Salt & Pepper Mill Set is both durable and attractive. Though compact in size, they are well made of tough acrylic, with a hardened steel mechanism to grind pepper and a diamond-cut ceramic grinder in the salt mill. Place a few sets on a large dining table so everyone has easy access, or tuck them in your picnic basket or camping gear. You can adjust the coarseness of the grind and they’re easily refillable. Perfect as a stocking stuffer, they’re available at Lee Valley Tools.
All-Clad two-piece baking pan set
If you’re like us and get asked OFTEN to contribute to potlucks, you’ll love this All-Clad bakers’ two-piece set, perfect for transporting casseroles, crisps, cobblers or lasagnas to any event. Complete with lids, these vessels – one is 11 x 14 inches, the other 8 x 8 – also make storing leftovers in the refrigerator hassle-free. The super heavy-duty pans have a utensil-safe surface that won’t scratch and both the dishes and lids are dishwasher safe. To top it off, they pans are oven and broiler safe up to 600F. Available at the Hudson’s Bay Company and select gourmet retailers.