I have some friends and family members who are curious about experimenting in the kitchen, but don't have the ingredients, the knowledge or quite enough motivation to get started. My favorite gift to these recipients is a recipe kit with the basic supplies, written instructions and — if I'm giving the gift in person — a helping hand for a recipe I know they're interested in. It's always a hit!
My favorite type of recipe for these gifts is one that seems intimidating, perhaps because the ingredients are hard to find or because it's not a dish most people make from scratch, but one which is actually quite simple to make. Here are a few ideas:
• Kimchi: The toughest part of making kimchi is tracking down Korean red pepper flakes. A kit that includes a bag of the red pepper, sea salt, a pair of food handling gloves and a big jar will give Korean pickle addicts the tools to turn their favorite vegetables into kimchi.
• Dashi: This simple stock is the basis for many Japanese recipes and it is so easy to make from scratch. Put together a kit with packages of kombu (dried kelp) and katsuo-bushi (dried bonito flakes).
• Ma Po Tofu: Know any spicy Sichuan food addicts? A kit including numbing Sichuan peppercorns, Sichuan chili bean paste and fermented black beans will have them well on their way to making their own version of this comforting dish.
• A favorite Indian dish: Jump-start a friend's Indian pantry with the spices they'll need for their favorite Indian dish, along with a bag of basmati rice.
• Ricotta: Some cheesecloth, a pretty jar for storing the finished cheese and a hands-on lesson are all it takes to show your recipient how easy and satisfying it is to make ricotta.
• Granola: Making homemade granola is no more difficult than baking a batch of cookies, but for some reason it sounds more complicated. A kit with rolled oats, nuts, dried fruit, a sweetener like agave and a nice jar — a good jar makes every gift better! — proves its simplicity.
Have you ever given a kit like this as a gift? Any ideas for other recipes that would make good kits?
(Images: Anjali Prasertong)