It’s the fabulous time of year for celebrating the holidays with your family and friends. When it comes to choosing hostess and holiday gift ideas, sometimes it is hard to know where to start. We’re here to be your personal holiday shopper. You will find a range of gifts that focus on cooking, entertaining, home décor, foods and beverages to thrill your host, hostess, family and friends. Don’t forget to treat yourself as well to these wonderful gifts.
Finding unique gifts for the food lover is always challenging but have I got two solutions for you! Both items are perfect for those who love making a dish their own.
Tiffany’s Torcher Hot Sauce Company
For anyone who loves flavor and heat, then Tiffany’s Torcher Hot Sauce is for you. The company has a story that everyone with an entrepreneurial spirit should read about. A California man trying to protect his garden from critters decided to plant peppers as a natural deterrent. Didn’t help the vegetables much but gave him lots of peppers to enjoy. So, when “life gives you peppers, you make hot sauce”!
And soon the word spread about Tiffany’s Torcher Hot Sauce that went far beyond the local community. Internet orders began coming in from all over the world. “Soon to be famous” had now become “getting famous”. Inspiring Kitchen is sharing this find with you to be used not just as a last minute add on to your eggs (which is a delicious option if you haven’t tried it yet) but as an ingredient in your dishes. Here’s one recipe that may have you buying a bottle just for yourself:
Grilled Salmon – combine Tiffany’s Topanga Torcher with mayonnaise, spread on both sides of Salmon and grill. Wow! So good! And Easy!
Tiffany’s Topanga Hot Sauces are not novelty hot sauces, however. They are serious flavor and heat. Try them with any of these dishes for a memorable meal:
- Chicken Wings/Chicken
- Stir Fry
- Salad Dressing
Or as enhancements for guacamole, curries, eggs, soups, potatoes, Thai food and soups, Asian noodle dishes, Mexican and Spanish food, spiced up aoli, cocktail sauce, and cream cheese dip.
There are three different styles of hot sauce:
Tiffany’s Topanga Torcher (Hot) – made with Habanero, Jalapeno, Serrano, Thai and Arbol Peppers
Tiffany’s Topanga Ghost (Hotter) – Torcher ingredients plus Ghost and Smoked Ghost peppers
Tiffany’s Topanga Scorpion (Hottest) – Torcher ingredients plus Ghost peppers and Trinidad Moraga Scorpion peppers
Each bottle sells for $8.75 but I highly recommend the gift sets that are in 3, 6, or 12 packs to really let the peppers tempt your taste buds. For the adventurous eater and cook with a palate for upping the flavor and heat, it’s time to introduce you to Tiffany’s Torcher Hot Sauces.
Can you imagine ketchup without tomatoes? Seems like such a strange concept, right? Until you try Not Ketchup’s gourmet sauces. How about meatballs with a cherry chipotle sauce? Or smoky date pork chops? Four different flavors to tempt your palate and open your mind to create dishes that are far from ordinary.
If you are looking for a healthier alternative to preservative filled condiments, you are going to like what you see in this ingredient list. There is no corn syrup, white sugar, artificial colors, preservatives and flavors. Plus, they are low in sodium. Instead, Demerara sugar (an unrefined cane sugar), honey and molasses are used as sweeteners in addition to the fruit. Important to mention is that you will find real fruit as the very first ingredient on every single bottle. The savory vinegar and spices balance the sweet fruit flavors to add just the right combination to each bottle. You will get sweet, savory and tart flavors in each bite. So good!
Here’s how it all started. Food blogger, Erika, from Erika’s Kitchen, went cherry picking with her children only to come home with 30 pounds of cherries. Tired of making pies and jam, she experimented using fruits to create recipes that would be delicious on a wide variety of dishes.
Her masterpieces include:
Blueberry White Pepper Not Ketchup – best with seafood, pork
Cherry Chipotle Not Ketchup – best with burgers, fries, ribs
Smoky Date Not Ketchup – best with pork chops, cheese, sausage
Spiced Fig Not Ketchup – best with lamb, pork, cheese
The variety of recipes and uses for these sauces is endless. Marinades, glazes, baking sauce or dips are just a few ideas of how to use Not Ketchup in your meals. Think beyond main courses or appetizers too. How about using Smoky Date Not Ketchup in a cake recipe? Have children who are “particular” eaters but will eat anything you serve them if they can dip it into a sauce? They can choose from 4 choices of Not Ketchup!
If you are looking for a gift for someone who loves to create dishes that give their guests flavor options for dipping sauces, you should share this find with them. The bottles are $9 each or come in 3, 4 or 12 bottle sets. You will also find many recipes on Not Ketchup’s site to give you ideas of different ways to incorporate these sauces into your menu. Not Ketchup is sold online and in some retailers.
Choosing an alcoholic gift for someone can be intimidating if you are unsure what the recipient’s specific tastes are. Do they drink red or white wine? Do they prefer mixed drinks or liqueurs? Just what is their preference? I am sharing with you three different ideas knowing that at least one will strike a chord with you as a good gift for your host.
Life throws you obstacles and you need to determine how to best maneuver your next steps. For Jack Summers, that meant creating a company called Jack From Brooklyn, that produces and distributes a liqueur based on his family’s Caribbean heritage. Sorel actually originated as a Bajan hibiscus tea called “sorrel” which is made from dried hibiscus petals blended with spices and roots like cinnamon and ginger and sometimes spiked with rum.
As Jack reorganized his world, he created an island-spiked hibiscus tea now called Sorel which is made with Brazilian clove, Indonesian cassia, Nigerian ginger, Indonesian nutmeg, Moroccan hibiscus, pure cane sugar and organic grain alcohol. Warm or cold, this burgundy colored liqueur is spiced to perfection.
Within Brooklyn Spirits: Craft Distillery from the World’s Hippest Borough, you will find three unique recipes incorporating Sorel in very different ways. Each beautifully presented in the photography that accompanies the recipe and story.
The uniqueness of Sorel’s flavor, story behind its origination and delicious recipes makes this a welcome gift for the holidays. Sorel can be found at liquor stores across the country and sells for $35.
For people who enjoy cooking, we can never have enough cookbooks. I personally read them like a novel. I enjoy the photographs, stories that are shared about how each recipe came to be and of course, the recipe itself. Choosing a book for someone when you are unsure of what one already has or perhaps will like, can be intimidating. So, I am sharing a collection of different themed books for you to choose from knowing that at least one will be a perfect gift.
Brooklyn Spirits: Craft Distilling and Cocktails from the World’s Hippest Borough
This book is a fascinating read of the Slow Food inspired food and drink activity in Brooklyn over the last 20 years. The concept is similar to farm to table but is instead distillery to glass. The approach to the writing is the sharing of history, distillery education, photography and of course recipes. You will be introduced to the back stories of the distillers, their motivations for going into the craft business, how they see themselves compared to the competition and commentary from the best local bartenders sharing their recipes.
This book is destined for coffee tables not book shelves. The photography alone is beautiful. Your eyes take in the cocktail as if it was in front of you while you are visiting with friends in your neighborhood bar. It’s a personal feeling not one of showiness.
In fact, Inspiring Kitchen is sharing a craft distilled liqueur called Sorel with you as a part of this gift guide that is highlighted in this book. The distiller’s story is passionate and motivating. Read about Sorel and enjoy the delicious recipes utilizing this spiced beverage envisioning yourself in the warmth and beauty of the Caribbean.
You will find Brooklyn Spirits: Craft Distilling and Cocktails from the World’s Hippest Borough at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and local independent bookstores. It sells for $25 on Amazon.
This brand new cookbook is just one in a line of beautifully written recipes and photographs from Yotam Ottolenghi. His previous books Plenty, Jerusalem and Ottolenghi have all been New York Tiimes bestsellers. He writes on vegetarian cooking for The Guardian and appears on the BBC. But, this book will capture your attention simply because of the colorful and extraordinary pictures of Yotam’s dishes. Vegetarian or not, your interest in creating vegetable based dishes as main courses or sides is going to sky rocket. Whether entertaining, cooking for your family or yourself, Plenty More will give you a wealth of ideas on how to create flavorful, brightly colored and uniquely combined recipes that will work for all taste buds. You will find more than 150 dishes prepared tossed, grilled, baked, simmered, cracked, fried or braised and carrying all the zest and rich essences that are his hallmark. He uses spices, seasonality and bold flavors to accomplish his goals.
Plenty More is organized by cooking method which is designed to bring out the best in the ingredients: Tossed, Steamed, Blanched, Simmered, Braised, Grilled, Roasted, Fried, Mashed, Cracked, Baked and Sweetened. You will be introduced to new foods like black garlic, for example. He will show you how to incorporate unique items to get the most out of them for each recipe. This book is focused on techniques in constructing a dish, in putting together components and arranging them in layers of flavor, texture and color. If Plenty, through its structure and recipe selection, tried to shed light on groups of Yotam’s favorite ingredients, Plenty More takes these favorites and adds to it and then focuses on cooking techniques and methods that best utilize their potential. Try roasting lemons or braising lettuce. Simple, every day items made extraordinary.
Yotam Ottolenghi is a well known restauranteur with multiple locations in London as well as being an established and highly regarded cookbook author. His recipes teach you not only how to create flavorful dishes with unique ingredients but also how to technically prepare the meal. This book will become a staple in your home for brunches through dinners surprising even the most committed carnivore to the benefits found within the flavors of the world of vegetables. Finally, just because Yotam Ottolenghi is known as a vegetarian Chef should not minimize his skills in creating dessert recipes. Richness in flavor and color carries through to his decadent desserts as well. You can find Plenty More at Amazon for $21.
Finding the right gift for someone’s table should take in to consideration their style of entertaining and home decor. I have found that choosing pieces that are multi-purpose are good choices for gift giving whether hostess, holiday, birthday or wedding related. I look for pieces that will highlight the food that is shared and the decor that makes a house a home. For me, Michael Aram has a style that transitions across design tastes whether traditional or contemporary. Michael is an American born artist who moved to New Delhi to begin working with the rich metalworking traditions of the area. His pieces are all about quality, the mark of a true artisan. Bridging the gap between the artist and artisan is a hallmark of Michael Aram’s work. Each piece is entirely handmade with no two examples ever exactly the same. The handmade quality of the work allows it to shift beautifully between the world of fine and decorative art. This confirms the work’s ability to be well placed in homes of differing design. Interestingly, in Hindi, “aram” means “gently, with peace, with love and care”. Very fitting for Michael Aram.
Interesting serving pieces add an element of sophistication to a table whether you are offering olives, nuts, candy or appetizers. Michael Aram’s 3 bowl sculpture known as Olive Branch Triple Compartment Dish is the right size for dining tab
This serving piece from the White Orchid Collection is not only beautiful but also very useful. The white porcelain insert can be used in the oven for a wide variety of dishes and then placed in the frame for serving. From Michael Aram’s perspective, the white nickel orchids offer an illusion of brightness that comes from a new beginning. Isn’t that a nice thought for the holidays and entrance into 2015?! This piece can be found at Bloomingdales Home Stores. www.bloomingdales.com
Interesting serving pieces add an element of sophistication to a table whether you are offering olives, nuts, candy or appetizers. Michael Aram’s 3 bowl sculpture known as Olive Branch Triple Compartment Dish is the right size for dining tables, buffets, coffee and end tables. This lovely piece can be found at Amazon for $159.
This is the one item I have seen on more people’s wish lists over the last few years. Birthdays, holidays, weddings and anniversaries. It makes all the lists. What’s interesting is that I hear customers saying, “I need this blender”. And I jump in and say this is so much more than a blender. Yes, you will use it to make your smoothies and margaritas. But, you will also use it to make sauces, soups, ice cream and pureed foods (peanut butter, hummus) among so many other recipes.
The power found in this machine is that of a commercial grade blender: 2.2 peak HP motor. It is however, much quieter, compact (64 ounce capacity) and built with quality in mind. Vitamix is known for their warranty as well. It is a 7 year warranty! This specific model, the 750, has five pre-programmed settings including a self cleaning option. The programmed settings allow you to walk away from the Vitamix while it is doing its job, so you can do yours. The pre-sets are for ice cream (frozen desserts), smoothie, soup and pureed recipes along with the self cleaning option. It also comes with a tamper which is super helpful when making thick mixtures like ice cream and peanut butter as it is designed to not hit the blades when you are using it.
You also have a speed dial option that gives you independent control over the chopping and mixing of ingredients. Make your own fresh grated parmesan cheese instead of buying it in the can. Done in seconds rather than grating it yourself and hoping you spare your knuckles this time.
The Vitamix comes with a cookbook filled with ideas and recipes from gourmet chefs and even a DVD tutorial from Chef Michael Voltaggio. There is a reason this blender is so well loved. I am sure the cook in your family will be beyond excited to open this gift this holiday season. The Vitamix 750 can be found at Amazon for $599.
I hope that you enjoyed learning about the 8 items and stories described in this gift guide. Discovering that perfect item for your friends and family is one of those fun challenges in life. Check out http://inspiringkitchen.com/2014/11/21/25-best-holiday-and-hostess-gifts/ for an additional 17 creative, delicious, beautiful and luxurious items to choose from. How amazing is that?! Happy Holidays to you!