By Chef Dez
Being a man, I am sometimes mistakenly slotted into the stereotype of a last-minute shopper. Nothing could be further than the truth. Stressing about Christmas gifts because I have run out of time is not how I want to spend the days before Christmas. Therefore, to help you avoid this ordeal I am offering you some stocking stuffer ideas for the hobby chef on your list.
Zester – This is a hand tool that removes the aromatic, coloured segment of the peel from citrus fruits while leaving the white bitter pith part on the fruit. Great for adding extra citrus flavour to almost any recipe, or to enhance garnishing presentation.
Mini whisk – Approximately the same size of a ball point pen. It always comes in handy for small whisking applications like mixing individual drinks, beating one egg, or small amounts of sauce. I have even seen ones that are attached to a key chain hoop.
Melon Baller – Great for its intended purpose of creating bite-size balls of melon, but works just as well on soft cheeses and an assortment of fruits and vegetables. Caramelized balls of potato, for example, makes for an appealing side dish.
Olive pitter – This tool resembles a pair of spring-loaded pliers. It has a circular base to hold an olive on one of the ends, and a prod on the other. When squeezed together, the prod inserts into the olive and pushes the pit through the opposite side. It works great on cherries too.
Garlic press – I have gone through many poorly made garlic presses in the past, but there is one brand that has never let me down. I highly recommend the Switzerland made “Zyliss” brand. I have literally crushed hundreds of cloves with this brand, for the past 15 years, without fail.
Apple corer – Simply push this tubular tool through the center of an apple or pear, and proceed with slicing… or eating.
Butcher’s twine – Not only great for trussing stuffed turkeys, but also for chickens and a variety of stuffed roasts, meats, and seafood too.
Silicone spatula – Silicone kitchen tools like spatulas and bowl scrapers are great because they can withstand high heat temperatures and they are very flexible. Fantastic for omelets, where ones made of rubber or plastic would melt in the hot pan.
Dough scraper – Sometimes called a Bench Scraper – A flat-edged tool that easily scrapes dough or flour together on the counter. They are available in metal or plastic. Great for anyone that likes to bake.
Lemon reamer – A wooden hand-held tool to efficiently juice lemons or limes.
Citrus juice sprayer – This small gadget is a spray pump that gets inserted directly into your favourite whole citrus fruit and allows you to spray juice directly from inside the fruit.
Culinary torch – Whether it’s for crème brulée, adding a bit more browning to a piece of meat, igniting a flambé, or for just lighting candles, this little device is awesome. It’s a small refillable torch that is kept in the kitchen for all these jobs and more.
Cut resistant gloves – These are great for someone that is just learning how to use a knife, or someone who is not very steady with their hands. They are lightweight and washable too.
I hope this helps relieve some of your shopping burdens. Small locally owned businesses need our help this year more than ever, so please take this list to your neighborhood specialty kitchen store. Whatever they don’t have in stock can be easily ordered online. Merry Christmas!
– Chef Dez is a food columnist and culinary instructor in the Fraser Valley. Visit him at www.chefdez.com. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or to P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, B.C. V2T 6R4