You know how you feel when a friend asks you for advice and your best recommendation is to direct them to something you made or wrote yourself? Part of you feels sheepish for suggesting it, but then the other part of you feels like — well, it really is helpful. And you're not just saying that because you wrote it!
That's how we feel about "The Kitchn Cookbook." Of course we're proud of it and want everyone to have one — even your grandma! — but honestly, it comes down to the fact that we set out to create a comprehensive, inspiring, and helpful cookbook for cooks of all ages and experiences, and we think we did a pretty good job at it. It's a great gift, if we do say so ourselves, and especially so if you juice it up with one of these 10 luxurious ingredients.
10 Ingredients to Gift with "The Kitchn Cookbook" (and the Recipes They'll Help You Make)
1. Blanton's Single Barrel Bourbon, ~$55
We understand that the recipient of a fine bottle of bourbon may just want to don their smoking jacket and slippers and sip it straight; however, given the season, if you can convince them to make our Coconut Bourbon Nog (page 178), we think everyone will end up very, very happy with that decision.
2. Sosu Barrel-Aged Sriracha, $13.95 from Mouth
Regular buttered popcorn? Fine. Popcorn drenched in a sriracha-honey syrup and baked in the oven? Amazing. Whenever we make a batch of our Sriracha-Honey Popcorn Clusters (page 161), we can't stop eating it. It's sweet, it's spicy, it's crunchy — it's the best snack ever. Start with a special sriracha sauce, like Sosu's barrel-aged sriracha, and make the whole thing even better.
3. Parmigiano Reggiano Bonati, $29.99/lb from Murray's Cheese
There's nothing quite like real-deal Parmigiano, the imported stuff from Italy. Anything domestic pales in comparison to the rich, salty nuttiness of the original. The original is also way more expensive, which is why it makes a great gift, particularly when suggested alongside our Risotto with Chanterelle Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, and Parmesan Cheese (page 213). It's basically winter comfort in a bowl.
4. Benton's Hickory-Smoked Country Bacon, $30/4 packs
This is the bacon you get for someone who loves bacon. It will probably ruin them forever, but it will have been worth it. They will want to eat it right out of the pan, but we also suggest making our Bacon-Wrapped Potato Bites with Spicy Sour Cream Dipping Sauce (page 168). These are our foolproof, knock-it-out-of-the-park crowd pleasers — even for a crowd of one.
5. Olio Verde Extra Virgin Olive Oil, $34 from Market Hall Foods
A bottle of really good olive oil may be the most versatile gift you can give a cook. We use olive oil for almost everything, but we save the good oil — the really fragrant, peppery, grassy stuff — for dishes where the flavor really counts, like salads. Try this bottle of Olio Verde with our Grilled Caesar Salad (page 229), which we've dubbed the ultimate way to elevate a salad without getting too fussy.
6. Jacobsen Salt Co. Flake Finishing Sea Salt, $12.95 from Williams-Sonoma
Sweet and salty are like the prom king and queen of ingredients. They've always been the popular steadies and, unlike Brenda and Eddie, made it through the summer of '75 and are still going strong. Every cook should have a little jar of flaky sea salt to finish off a sweet dessert. Once you top our Soft Cakey Brownies with Salted Chocolate Glaze (page 268) with it, you'll never look back.
7. Barry Callebaut Semisweet Chocolate Chips, $24.95/3 lbs from King Arthur Flour
If chocolate chip cookies are your friend's favorite dessert of all time — as they are mine, no question — then you should direct them to The Kitchn's Perfected Chocolate Chip Cookies (page 246). While you're at it, give them a pound of these Barry Callebaut chocolate chips, because when chocolate is such a key ingredient, it pays to upgrade to something really delicious and cookie-changing.
8. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans, $11.45/5 beans from Beanilla
For the most vanilla-y vanilla, you can't go wrong with Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans. Always great in desserts, one of our other favorite ways to use a vanilla bean is to make Rhubarb-Vanilla Soda (page 181). It's sweet and tart, and forms the base of a wonderful cocktail, too. Just add gin.
9. Good Mother Stallard Beans, $5.95 from Rancho Gordo
A good pot of beans can be revelatory — savory, satisfying, and filling. When we want beans for dinner, we make our Pot Beans with Basil, Parmesan Cheese, and Tomatoes (page 241). You can make it with any kind of bean, but heirloom varieties like Good Mother Stallard beans really stand out.
10. Massa Organics Brown Rice, $5/2 lbs or $35/20 lbs
We've written about Massa Organics' brown rice before. It's nutty and tender, with just the right texture. It's how we imagine brown rice should taste. It's special enough to give as a gift, and would be absolutely delicious in our Baked Brown Rice, Lentils, and Cauliflower with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce (page 199).
Now, pick your favorite ingredient and then give it with our cookbook!
The Kitchn Cookbook: Recipes, Kitchens, and Tips to Inspire Your Cooking, $20.45 from Amazon
Winner of the 2015 James Beard Award for General Cooking