I guess I shouldn't be surprised that many of my gifts this Christmas related to food or its preparation. It is pretty much a sure thing that something related to food would be welcome under my tree. So what gifts warmed the cockles of my culinary heart? My husband gave my kitchen an upgrade by purchasing a brand new set of pots and pans. These are a beautiful set of Tramontina Domus cookware, well-made enough to have "helper handles" and heavy enough that you might need them once they are full. My old set of cookware was also Tramontina, and I have been happy with it, but this set had more and bigger pieces, an important consideration when both "Evil David" and I are cooking on tapas night. I am not a fan of nonstick coatings so I wanted something that I could scrub with a Brillo pad if necessary. I have been using these pots and pans since Christmas, and I have to say that I love the "professional" look and feel of these pots and pans, not only when I am cooking, but the way they look on my stove (see for yourself at left and right where they were pressed into service during the cooking marathon that was Chinese New Year's Eve).
What else does a cook (and my kitchen) really need to do some serious cooking? Knives, of course. Everyone knows that knives are base equipment for chefs, so much so that they are included equipment when students enroll in culinary school. Now, I have written before that my knife inventory has been seriously crappy since my son left with his real chef's knife. So I wasn't really surprised that I received a lot of knives for Christmas (apparently my family hasn't heard of the old superstition that giving a knife cut your love for the recipient in half!) Before Christmas, I did a lot of research on knives, what quality and materials to look for, how a good one should feel in your hand. I even consulted Consumer Reports. In the end, my husband bought some knives made by Tramontina. While we knew the reputation of Wusthof , we needed so many knives that to buy Wusthofs would have broken the bank, so my husband selected knives that were made of high carbon steel made in Solingen, Germany and the handles are antimicrobial. I was thrilled to get two chef's knives, two paring knives, two utility knives, and two Santoku knives. Since I haven't used a Wusthof, I can't say how these compare, but I can tell you how they compare with my old knives (which I promptly threw out!)- they are incredible! I can chop and slice properly, and with great precision. My husband got these knives at Sam's Club, and I have to say that I would highly recommend them if you want good quality knives at an affordable price.
What other cooking goodies have I been enjoying since Christmas?
Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, 5 Spices, 50 Dishes, The Cook's Illustrated International Cookbook, and the one gift that was in my stocking that I need your help with- a bottle of white truffle oil. I have never used truffles or truffle oil before, but I know it is highly prized, and you should know by now, I am game to try almost anything. So if you have recipes or good ideas on how I might utilize this new culinary ingredient, all suggestions are welcome. And I'd love to hear what cooking or blogging-related loot you scored this Christmas.