These Are a Few of My Favorite Things…

Warm Woolen Mittens

“…Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens…”

You know the old song! I especially look forward to warm woolen mittens this time of year. In addition to kettles, mittens, streudel and kittens (wait, scratch the kitten part, I’m a dog person), I also have oodles of favorite cookbooks and kitchen toys that I want to share with you. Every few months I enjoy highlighting some new favorites, as well as reader favorites, and do a little roundup of what’s been hot in terms of cookbooks and kitchen gadgets. I hope you’ll enjoy the lists and discover some new goodies to add to your wish list (the holidays are fast approaching)!

Cookbooks

Favorite Cookbooks

1. Whoopie Pies : Dozens of Mix ‘em, Match ‘em, Eat ‘em Up Recipes – This book was co-authored by a Pittsburgh native, and it’s where the S’mores Whoopie Pies came from over the summer. There are so many unique combinations in this book; you’ll never run out of something new to try!

2. The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz – If you plan on making homemade ice cream, consider this your bible. A lot of basics regarding equipment and technique, as well as an endless supply of ice cream inspiration.

3. Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan – This is Dorie’s latest book, and I just received my copy this week but have already flagged tons of recipes I want to try. After falling in love with Baking: From My Home to Yours (below) and experiencing Dorie’s fabulous desserts, I know I’ll adore all of her French recipes.

4. Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan – When you bake from this book, it’s as if Dorie is standing in the kitchen next to you, guiding you through each step. She writes beautifully and really makes you feel like she’s right there with you. I have so many favorites from this book, but I think the Hidden Berry Cream Cheese Torte tops them all!

5. Baking Illustrated – From the editors of Cook’s Illustrated at America’s Test Kitchens, this is one of my baking bibles. There are tons of basic recipes and with explanations, tips and illustrations, it’s a must-have (in my opinion) for anyone who loves to bake.

6. The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart – If you are interested in bread baking, I highly recommend this book. The recipes vary from simple to complex, but Peter provides excellent instructions and I have yet to make something from this book I haven’t loved. Some favorites include: Potato Rosemary Bread, Cinnamon Raisin Bagels and Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread.

7. Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book – Ben & Jerry’s ice cream at home – Hello!

8. Making Whoopies: The Official Whoopie Pie Book – More whoopie pies! They are all the rage right now, and there’s certainly no shortage of books and recipes.

Kitchen Tools & Equipment

Favorite Kitchen Tools

1. KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment – Along with The Perfect Scoop (above) these are by far my favorite things in the kitchen during the summer months. I love being able to churn up new and different flavors of homemade ice cream anytime I want.

2. Beater Blade – These are made in sizes to fit all stand mixers. It scrapes the sides of the bowl as it beats, almost eliminating the need for you to stop and scrape the sides of the bowl while mixing.

3. Wilton 4 Piece Football Cookie Cutter Set – I use the jersey cookie cutter in this set for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Pittsburgh Steelers cookies that I make. There is also a helmet, a pennant and a football – all perfect for fun cookies during football season!

4. Silpat Nonstick Silicone Baking Mat – You’ll notice that almost all of my recipes using a baking sheet will call for lining it with parchment paper or a nonstick silicone baking mat (Silpat). This is of course so baked goods do not stick, and also to eliminate any extra fat from greasing a pan with butter or shortening, which can cause cookies to flatten.

5. Escali Pana Volume Scale – I love this scale. It measures in ounces and grams, and converts dozens of common ingredients from volume measurements to weight measurements. As I’ve said many times, I think a kitchen scale is the best investment a baker can make.

6. Salter Electronic Scale – Another great scale, it has an 11-pound capacity! Great for weighing a lot of heavy dough.

7. Ateco 14-Piece Cake Decorating Set – This is a great starter set if you want to do any basic piping on cakes or on top of cupcakes.

8. Nonstick Donut Pan – No more Dunkin Donuts run if you have this bad boy in your kitchen!

What’s your new favorite cookbook or kitchen toy?