10 Final Gift Ideas: My Kitchen Essentials

We’re winding down the last few days before Christmas, and I know a lot of people who have yet to start their shopping. The holiday seemed to creep up this year, didn’t it? Well, if you’re in that bunch and are looking for some last-minute ideas, you still have time to take advantage of ground shipping before Christmas Eve (December 21st seems to be the most common cutoff for online retailers I’ve visited). Or, maybe you got an end-of-year bonus and want to treat yourself to something shiny and new (kudos to you!). As my final installment of gift ideas, I wanted to share with you the 10 things that I consider absolutely essential in my kitchen. They are things that I use week in and week out (and a lot of them multiple times a day!) and would take to a desert island with me. Enjoy browsing!

1. KitchenAid Professional 6-Quart Stand Mixer

Needless to say, this is my workhorse. It mixes huge amounts of dough and batter without blinking an eye. Case in point: a tripled pizzelle recipe that includes 18 eggs, 10½ cups of flour, 3 cups of butter, 4½ cups of sugar. No problem. I could not function without my KitchenAid.

2. Cuisinart 11-Cup Food Processor

This comes a close second to my mixer in terms of how often it’s used. I make so many different things in it – pizza dough, pie crust, hummus, pureed soups, etc. I use it to grind nuts for nutrolls , shred cheese in a split second, and so many other things. It’s absolutely my #1A in terms of kitchen equipment.

3. Baking Stone

I adore homemade pizza and this baking stone makes the crust everything I’ve always wanted in a homemade pizza. I also reheat things like leftover pizza, French fries, rolls, etc. on it. It’s also perfect for baking artisan breads.

4. Super Peel Pizza Peel

This goes hand in hand with the perfect baking stone above. One of the worst things in the world is trying to get a perfectly topped pizza from the counter to the oven in one piece. If you use a baking stone, you want to preheat in the oven so you can’t form the pizza on it and then put it in the oven. This peel has been flawless for me since I got it. I always dust it with semolina flour and my pizza slides perfectly onto the stone, creating an amazing crust.

5. Le Creuset 7¼-qt Dutch Oven

My dutch oven makes the majority of its appearances during the cooler months when I make large batches of soups, stews, chili, sauces, etc. But it’s certainly worth owning year-round and worth every bit of its price. I would love to add a smaller size to my collection.

6. Wire Cooling Racks

I have two of these and would love to get two more. The tight wire grid makes them perfect for cooling just about anything. Plus, they fit inside a half sheet pan (or on top of a regular cookie sheet), which is perfect if you want to make something like breaded baked chicken, or for the second bake of biscotti.

7. Oven Thermometer

I’ve talked a lot about oven thermometers, but I really don’t think I could function without one. I have never found an oven to be 100% accurate, and this helps me to ensure that the oven is at the exact right temperature throughout the baking process. They are very inexpensive and should be in all ovens. It can make a world of difference if your baked goods aren’t coming out quite right and you can’t figure out why.

8. Volume Measuring Kitchen Scale

I definitely use this on a daily basis; not only for baking but also for measuring my food. I try to eat healthy the majority of the time, so I will measure a serving of cereal, the weight of meat, etc. This scale is awesome because not only can you measure in ounces and grams, but you can also put in the code for dozens upon dozens of food and it converts it to cups or tablespoons for you.

9. America’s Test Kitchen: Cook’s Illustrated and Baking Illustrated

ATK is my #1 go-to resource for cooking and baking. It’s my first stop when I am looking for a new recipe, a specific technique, a review of a piece of kitchen equipment or ingredients. I subscribe to the magazine, to their online site, and own the book Baking Illustrated. I have yet to make a recipe of theirs that wasn’t absolutely fantastic and as a result, I highly recommend getting the magazine or investing in one of their books!

10. Digital Instant Read Thermometer

Much like the oven thermometer, this is a must for me. I use it for all sorts of things, including checking the doneness of roast chicken, the temperature of custard for ice cream, even the internal temperature of baked bread to make sure it’s done. A must-have for sure!

Some additional holiday gift guides:

5 Fabulous Foodie Gifts for Christmas 2010

30 Gift Ideas: Cookbooks & Kitchen Goodies

Homemade Food Gift Ideas

What are some of the items you consider your kitchen essentials?