PHOTOS: Matthew Gaulin
In the quest for a useful culinary holiday present for the home chef in your life, Style suggests some must-have kitchen and food products available locally.
When I was 8, my mother bought me an Easy Bake Oven. It sparked not only a lifelong love affair with food, but also a mild but unmistakable obsession with cooking contraptions.
Over the years, my tastes have become more refined. Only kitchen gearheads could understand the overwhelming joy you get as you bring home a brand-new, state-of-the-art, high-speed blender. And only fellow gourmands could appreciate a perfectly grilled chicken breast that spent 24 hours marinating in a homemade mojo sauce purchased in Clermont.
When it comes to kitchen gadgets and uniquely scrumptious goodies that make foodies go gaga, the keys are originality and practicality. You don’t want to buy something so off-the-wall different that you’ll rarely use it; however, you do want something with a wow factor that makes your meals suddenly more water cooler-worthy.
Similar logic applies when buying something for the home cook in your life. Therefore, Style decided to give you a gift guide to some of the hottest specialty kitchen products and fine ingredients available at local merchants.
KaDee Kay Gourmet Kitchen Products, Mount Dora
Magefesa Carbon Steel Paella Pans
Actually made in Spain, these easy-to-clean pans are perfect for cooking up this traditional Spanish dish. The textured surface helps oil collect in the center of the pan to create that delicious layer of toasted rice known as soccarat in the bottom of the pan. And the carbon steel construction allows for quick and even heat distribution, resulting in flawless cooking results that will leave friends and family speechless.
“These pans have become increasingly popular with our customer base,” says Karen Monte, co-owner of KaDee Kay. “The 12-inch pans are perfect for couples, while the larger pans are great for large gatherings and bigger families.”
Think making sushi at home is too hard? It just got a whole lot easier. Rice Cube eliminates the need for clunky bamboo sushi mats and sticky rice by using compression to squeeze ingredients into cute, snack-sized cubes. And because you can use plain rice without having to add vinegar or sugar, it cuts down on the preparation time and calories.
“This tool is fun and easy to use,” says Monte. “Even children can use it.”
Though you may want to use it primarily with rice, this utensil is super versatile and can be used to mold a variety of ingredients, such as polenta, meat, cheese, risotto, fudge and much more.
Charcoal Companion Himalayan Salt Plate
Himalayan salt in cooking is hot right now and there’s no better way to use it than by cooking on a salt plate.
Salt plates give foods a subtler, milder flavor than when using ground salt.
“When you cook with it, you’re infusing over 80 different minerals and trace minerals into your food that your body needs,” says Monte. “Plus, it keeps you from putting too much salt into your food, especially if you’re watching your sodium intake.”
The plate, made from 100 percent pink Himalayan salt, is great to use in the oven or on a grill. Then when the meal is ready, it makes a great serving plate.
Nordic Ware bakeware
KaDee Kay carries the largest selection of Nordic Ware Bakeware in the southeastern United States.
That’s great news for hardcore bakers, cooks and home chefs, since Nordic Ware has been one of the most trusted bakeware and cookware companies for more than 60 years.
“They’re a part of everyone’s kitchen,” says Monte. “Some people even collect them.”
With the holiday season in full swing, there are tons of seasonal items to buy for the baker in your life who may get a kick out of making a Bundt cake in the shape of a yule log or wreath next year.
In case you were wondering, escargot is French for snail, which is considered a delicacy in many Mediterranean countries. If you’re looking to expand your tastes — or if you just want to try your hand at making this ridiculously delicious appetizer — KaDee Kay carries all the items you’ll need.
To make the perfect gift basket, be sure to grab a ceramic escargot plate, tongs, escargot forks, snail shells and a can of large or extra-large snails.
Enclume Ceiling Pot Racks
Kitchen appliances can take up a lot of room, especially if you’re fanatical about collecting. Therefore, give the gift of space with a ceiling pot rack that’s functional as well as decorative.
“The great thing about these racks is they are easy to install and the hardware is included,” says Monte.
Oval, square, rectangle … a variety of shapes and sizes are available inside the store. And Enclume, the leading manufacturer of gourmet cooking racks for nearly four decades, guarantees unmatched quality and craftsmanship that cooks value.
Julianne’s Coastal Cottage, Mount Dora
Dr. Pete’s Praline Mustard Glaze
This award winner brings the flavor of Georgia to any kitchen with a tasty blend of brown sugar, mustard, pecans and spices.
“This is absolutely fabulous over ham, cream cheese or even brie,” says Trish Morgan, owner of The Gourmet Spot, which has merged with Julianne’s.
You can also try it on chicken, fish or as an ice cream topping.
The Gourmet Spot French Poultry Rub/Floridian Barbecue Rub/Salmon Rub
Give meats an extra oomph with these flavorful spice rubs. But Morgan advises they’re not just for proteins.
“The French poultry and Floridian Barbecue rubs work well on grilled or sautéed veggies,” she says. “This may be a big selling point for people who are trying to eat healthier in the new year.”
“This would be perfect for the special grill master in your life,” she says.
The espresso flavor enhances the taste of beef, pork and chicken when used as a barbecue sauce. Or you can blend it with ground beef for delicious burgers, brush it on shrimp while it’s grilling or smother a roast, ribs or pork in it after baking. It also adds a unique flavor to baked beans, but use only a dash.
Gunther’s Gourmet Chesapeake Bay Crab Salsa
It’s Gunther’s Gourmet and Morgan’s most popular item. This one-of-a-kind salsa combines the finest blue crab claw meat with a special blend of herbs and spices.
“It’s to die for,” she says. “It’s so delicious and I haven’t met one person who hasn’t enjoyed it.”
According to Gunther’s Gourmet, it makes a wonderful dip or complement when topping meat, seafood, vegetables or eggs.
The Gourmet Spot Balsamic Glaze
All natural and gluten-free, The Gourmet Spot’s line of balsamic glazes is perfect for cooks who admire the versatility of this sweet, tangy sauce. It can be used to dress salads, as a finishing sauce for grilled chicken or fish, or as a dessert sauce over ice cream or berries. It’s also delicious drizzled over cheesecake or your favorite gourmet cheese.