Confession: I’m a complete and total foodie geek. Although I may try and hide it, deep down I accept that I’m a culinary dork. In fact, it's high time I embrace it! Why? I know a vast amount of random food knowledge like the difference between a standing rib roast and a prime rib; the history of the Olympia, the oyster native to the West Coast that is now almost extinct in some regions; and the temperatures that chicken, beef, and pork should be pulled from the oven for perfectly medium rare meat. My cookbook collection is growing seriously out of control and some nights instead of reading a novel like a normal person, I read recipes from my newest cookbook before going to bed. I spend hours online searching for the perfect recipe and while away my Saturday mornings catching up on the Food Network.
Naturally, I’m incredibly into culinary gadgets. I rely heavily on a food processor and KitchenAid standing mixer and am so in love with the Cuisinart Ice Cream maker that I own three and keep one at my apartment, another at my family’s cabin, and a third at my grandfather’s house. Wondering what other gadgets I can’t live without or am contemplating adding to my arsenal? Here are 11 cooking tools that would be great gifts for the foodie geek in your life.
Sous vide is a technique that is used by professional chefs to cook an item at a constant temperature. Protein and eggs are vacuum sealed in a plastic bag and placed in a large pot of just simmering water, that’s kept at a constant temperature—thanks to a gadget called an immersion circulator—for a certain amount of time. Although immersion circulators have been available to home cooks for a couple of years, the latest and best ones, like the Anova Sous Vide, can be connected to and controlled by a smartphone.
A couple of year’s ago a friend splurged on a Vitamix and asked me to help her figure out how to use it. While my initial thoughts weren't great, I’ve since learned to love the professional-grade blender. Use it to make smoothies, hollandaise sauce, soups, and so much more.
You may think that a kitchen torch is an unnecessary gadget that will only be used once a year when you try to impress your in-laws by making creme brûlée. However, a kitchen torches can be used for more than just creme brûlée: toast marshmallows, caramelize vegetables, or cook meringue. Consider it a handheld broiler.
Professional pastry chefs use weight measurements instead of liquid to ensure that their ratios of liquid, fat, and sugar are just right. A savvy home baker looking to take their culinary confections to the next level will appreciate a kitchen scale because they know it’s a necessary tool to make perfect cupcakes and scones.
When Williams-Sonoma released this smoking gun a couple years back, the Voltaggio Brothers, chefs Michael and Brian, were the gadget’s ambassadors. These bad boys recommend that the home cook use it to impart a rich smoky flavor to everything from cheese to beef.
If you haven’t gotten on the spiralized bandwagon yet, what are you waiting for? Zucchini pasta and potato nests are absolutely delicious! Plus, it’s a pretty affordable gadget that is fun to use with kids.
A meat grinder allows the pork enthusiast to experiment with making sausages. It’s a good idea to learn how to use the machine first, so start out small by using it to make burger patties or breakfast sausages. It’s crucial to keep the components incredibly chilled, so clean out the fridge before you grind on.
A food dehydrator can be used to make dried fruit and homemade jerky. Give it to your favorite snacker or the busy mom who loves to feed her toddlers homemade healthy treats like dried apricots, apples, and mango.
A raclette is on my gadget wish list. Raclette is a type of Swiss cheese that’s traditionally served hot and melty on potatoes. A raclette, the gadget, has two levels of grill. The cheese is melted on little trays on the bottom level and meat and vegetables are grilled on the top tray. It’s definitely a specialty item, but if you have a ski house imagine the fabulous aprés parties you could have!
This amazing two-in-one gadget can make unsoaked beans in the pressure cooker in less than an hour. Or use it to slow cook short ribs all day until the meat is tender and falling off the bone.
The Italian food–loving home cook will go ballistic when they see this authentic hand-crank pasta maker. Sure, you can buy an electric one, but there’s something so nostalgic and special about the old-school gadget that requires a little muscle to use.
What geeky kitchen gadget is on your wish list?