After the Thanksgiving feast this week, the shopping frenzy begins, along with the stress of finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list. Then, come to think about it, hasn’t it already begun?
Last week was the first installment of a column many of you look forward to each year, to help find just the right gift for those foodies on your gift list. It continues here.
And look out for the cookbook roundup, publishing soon! Keep in mind, Hanukkah overlaps with Christmas this year, beginning at sundown Dec. 22, and ending Dec. 30.
The people and stories behind food gadget inventions are intriguing. Chris Pesek, the man behind BoilingBeeper, the floating boiling water alarm, often prepared meals that required boiling water. Of all the kitchen gadgets that sounded when something was ready, he noted that there were none that let you know when water was at boiling point, unless you stood by the pot. So, he went to work, and his idea became reality. The top stays cool for ouch-free removal of the beeper. No batteries are required. Watch it work at https://bit.ly/2XpNZqP. https://boilingbeeper.com, https://bit.ly/2NWkUQW
Grill cooks and BBQ enthusiasts will appreciate Grow and Make’s, Make-Your-Own Barbecue Sauce and Make-Your Own Hot Sauce kits. Founder Will Johnson wants to encourage people to have fun in the kitchen. Follow the included recipes or be creative and go off script, like I did to customize the sauce by making it spicier or sweeter. The barbecue sauce kit contains the ingredients (aside from tomato paste and oil) for three flavor-packed homemade sauce recipes (mustard-based, tomato-based and a vinegar pepper mop sauc.). The kit also includes bottles, instruction booklet, gloves, funnel and powder sanitizer. https://bit.ly/35oquS7
Spice seems to be the rage and the hot sauce kit (https://bit.ly/2OqQrJE) will fit the bill for those on your list who like their food just a bit hotter! They can make delicious hot sauces with the ingredients and recipes provided. Canned tomatoes and a few fresh ingredients are all that are needed in addition to the kit. They can choose recipes like classic Louisiana hot sauce or smoky chipotle hot sauce, or experiment with different spices to create their own. Fully customizable for different heat and taste preferences. Just use the easy-to-follow instructions. Available in 3- or 6-bottle kits. Watch how easy it is at https://bit.ly/2QxauJ4. Check out Grow and Make’s other DIY kits at https://bit.ly/2OqQXr4.
Erica Shea and Stephen Valand, founders of Brooklyn Brew Shop, had a goal to make home beer making fun by creating stylish, easy to use beer making kits, designed especially for stovetop brewing and ingredient mixes for seasonally inspired beers. They were successful in simplifying the beer making process without dumbing it down. They have served as judges for beer making contests and have been featured in many well-regarded media including the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Cooking Channel. Meet them here: https://vimeo.com/51318855. I thought their New England IPA Beer Making Kit (https://bit.ly/2Or1X7Q) is the perfect choice for the beer aficionados on your list. Included in the kit: New England IPA 1 Gallon All-Grain Mix, Mosaic Hops, Cascade Hops, Beer Making Yeast, Glass Fermentation Jug, Thermometer, Racking Cane, Tubing, Tubing Clamp, Screw-cap stopper, Airlock, No-Rinse Sanitizer. All the equipment in the kit is reusable. All that’s needed for the next batch is another Beer Making Mix (more than 3 dozen varieties of beer to choose from) and a packet of no-rinse sanitizer.
Who doesn’t have people on their gift lists with a sweet tooth? The perfect gift for them, Sweet Jules Caramels, won’t disappoint. I wasn’t able to eat just one! Sisters Hope and Jules use only natural ingredients and have perfected the confection with flavors such as Dark Chocolate Pecan: Dark chocolate and freshly roasted salted pecans are embedded in this luscious caramel; Bananas Foster: This classic dessert lends itself beautifully to these caramels. The first bite gives a taste of caramel, then the banana flavor quietly surfaces to fill their (or your) mouth with the true taste of Bananas Foster; Cafe Italiano: Sweet Jules’ vanilla caramel blended with rich Italian espresso; Fleur de Sel: Sweet Jules’ vanilla caramel, finished with Fleur de Sel.; Classic Vanilla Bean: A buttery soft, melt-in-your-mouth, old-fashioned caramel; and Beer & Pretzel caramels made with gold medal-winning Scotch Ale from Town Hall Brewery and extra thin, salted pretzels blended into rich, buttery caramel. I’ve always enjoyed chocolate-covered orange peel confections, so I’ll soon be ordering a box of their Sicilian Orange Caramels made with the famous oranges of Sicily, known for their extraordinarily intense flavor. For the ultimate caramel gift, the Caramels of the Month club is it — the recipient receives a different selection of caramels every month for a year, and several bonus gifts, too. https://bit.ly/2CW5Qwf
Bacon lovers will welcome a gift of Bacon Jam, especially the Emergency Bacon Kit, uniquely packaged, including a jar of the Classic Bacon Jam and a jar of both the Smoked Bacon Salt and Maple Sugar Rub. Bacon jam started as a fun and delicious ingredient that co-founder Bruce Kramer whipped up to stuff jalapeño poppers with for his tailgate buddies. Bruce introduced co-founder Michael Oraschewsky to the concept and it soon became a staple at Oraschewskys restaurant. The two decided to package this amazing item and launched TBJ Gourmet on Kickstarter in September 2013. The team traveled around selling bacon jam at barbecue festivals and farmers markets and within 6 months Oraschewsky was selling it nationwide on QVC. Now TBJ Gourmet products are sold in stores nationwide and served in restaurants, as well. Bacon Jam features a savory-sweet combination of bacon, brown sugar, caramelized onions, apple cider vinegar and special seasonings. With a bit of Bacon Jam magic, simple appetizers are transformed into delicious bites within minutes. You might want to purchase a couple of bottles for your holiday gatherings. Here is an easy recipe for Bacon Brie Bites (https://bit.ly/35hN0Mk):
Cube brie into 24 servings. Spoon 1/4 ounce of Balsamic & Fig Bacon Jam into each phyllo cup and top with a brie cube. Bake according to package instructions. Top with chopped fresh rosemary and serve warm.
The Spice Lab makes it easy to cook using their spice blends. Perfect for those who like to cook, but timid on how to spice. Each set includes a themed selection of four seasonings in shaker jars packaged in a gift box.
The Taste of America Collection includes favorite regional seasonings: Key West Seafood — Flavorful blend of onion, garlic, thyme, & other spices; Everything+More — All the popular bagel toppings plus hot pepper flakes; Fiery Southern Charm — Smoky and spicy, adding a little sass to any dish; Chicago Chop — Super savory and smoky, perfect for pork chops, ribs and roasts.
Mediterranean Seasoning Collection’s Southern European flavors: Mediterranean Citrus Herb — Dill and bright citrus notes, perfect for chicken, fish or vegetables; French Onion+Garlic — Multipurpose seasoning; Spicy Italian Sun Dried Tomato — Versatile blend with chilies and sundried tomatoes; Sicilian Blend — Multipurpose Italian seasoning with touch of extra heat.
Barbecue Seasoning Collection includes: Bad to the Bone — Savory and sweet with a touch of lemon, for ribs, steak and chicken; Smoky Pecan Seasoning — Mild blend of sweet pecan smoke and savory flavors; Sweet Rib Rub — A sweet and smoky blend that works great with beef, pork or chicken; Ancho Chili + Coffee Rub — Sweet and smoky mix of Poblano peppers, coffee & other spices.
The mixologists on your list can create drinks with extra pizazz with Spice Lab’s all natural sugar or salt drink rimmers. Makes a great stocking stuffer, too. Simply dampen the rim of a glass with water or a squeeze of citrus and dip into the Drink Rimmer. The Sugar Drink Rimmers add the perfect sweet touch. Available in Zesty Orange — Garnish a Creamsicle cocktail with this citrusy sugar. Peppermint — For hot cocoa or spiked hot chocolate. Pumpkin Spice — A favorite fall flavor for seasonal drinks. Lemon Drop — the perfect tart finish for this classic martini.
They can add flair and flavor to their favorite cocktails with these Salt Drink Rimmers: Traditional Margarita — Coarse white salt for a classic favorite; Bloody Mary and Maria — A spicy salt blend; Key Lime-salt and tart citrus combine for this savory blend; Chili Lime-a touch of heat adds a depth of flavor. Key Lime — Salt and tart citrus combine for this savory blend. Chili Lime — A touch of heat adds a depth of flavor.
Order spice blend gift packs and drink rimmers at Spices.com/gifts.html
Those who receive Kamsah’s Handmade Bohemian Blue Coffee/Tea Ceramic Wave mug and coaster plate will be able to cozy up this winter enjoying a hot beverage and slice of coffee cake or other treat with this unique serving plate. It is handmade in Neapolis (Nabeul), Tunisia, known as the Mediterranean’s ceramic center. It is dishwasher safe. Kamsah helps ensure the artists and their tradition of craftsmanship continue to thrive. The name Kamsah is fitting. It comes from the “hamsa” symbol, which stands for peace, protection and prosperity. To support this age-old craft, Kamsah pays the local women who make each piece a fair wage. And, 10 percent of proceeds go back to local associations led by women artisans to empower them and improve their education infrastructure. https://bit.ly/2rRX4gq, https://bit.ly/2Xs5ZkB
Chefs of Our Kitchen Series, Dan Brelsford, professional Italian chef and full-time fireman. Dec. 11, 6 p.m., Gateway Community College, 20 Church St., New Haven, 203-285-2617, $65 includes pre-event reception and three-course dinner, with wine pairings. Dan was featured on the Food Network series “Chopped” in an episode called “Fire it Up,” which featured firefighter chefs and cooks. He will demonstrate the dishes being prepared as you enjoy dinner. Reservations required. Validated parking (bring parking ticket to event) at the Temple Street Garage. Proceeds benefit Gateway foundation. Tickets and series information at https://bit.ly/33GsZhW.
A Unique Holiday Tasting, Sherry, Dec. 11, 6:30 p.m., Ibiza Tapas, 1832 Dixwell Ave., Hamden, 203-469-4218; $85. Working together with the chef owners of Ibiza Tapas, Robert Colopy, wine educator and renowned expert of Spanish wine, is one of the most knowledgeable people in the country to address how to pair Sherry with food. For menu and tickets, visit https://bit.ly/2CC3Etx.
“Worth Tasting,” A New York City Culinary Experience, Dec. 16. I will meet you at Grand Central Terminal (GCT) at 1 p.m.; $275 includes full lunch with one beverage at Le Marais, with chef/owner Jose Meirelles. We’ll stop at Bookmarks Lounge on the rooftop of the Library Hotel for one beverage, before we head to the Brooklyn Museum (includes roundtrip MetroCards for subway between GCT and the Brooklyn Museum and back to GCT). VIP entry to the renowned NYC Latke Festival where we will eat our way through countless latke variations plus other holiday treats and open bar. You will have access to the exclusive VIP Lounge, with another open bar, a buffet of latke complimentary comestibles and another open bar. At 8:30 p.m., we will travel back to GCT and get you to your train for your return to New Haven. Limited to 10 people. More information at https://bit.ly/31rN8GH. Tickets, call Stephen at 203-415-3519.