Sunday, November 28, 2004


Gifts for Cooks & a Smoked Chowder Recipe

The holiday season is here, (I can tell because there are lights strung up all over Beverly Hills.) and you may be looking for gifts to buy for your loved ones. Here are nine culinary gift ideas (and a recipe for Smoked Salmon Chowder with Corn) to get you inspired!

1. A Bradley Smoker. This is the best smoker I have ever encountered. You can hot or cold smoke meat, fish, cheese and vegetables, and it also doubles as a grill. It is light enough to carry, but holds a lot of food. If you like beer-smoked turkey for Thanksgiving, or hickory-smoked mozzarella cheese in the summer, this is the way to go.

2. Exquisite Handmade Japanese Knives. Why be like everyone else on the block with those ubiquitos German knives when these exist? They are the perfect combination of Japanese form and function. Hand forged with blue steel using the same techniques the Samurai used, and those boys liked a sharp knife that held its edge! What you should look for in a knife is good balance, a solid grip and that it is made with the highest quality steel. These knives have all that, plus they are just beautiful and rare.

3. A Benriner Slicer. I use these all the time for a wide variety of recipes. They are SO inexpensive it’s like a dream. You can find them in Chinatown. The ones at Williams-Sonoma are overpriced.

4. Saveur Magazine. I find that it’s the most passionate, sophisticated culinary magazine, with much less advertising (and pandering and coddling) than the bigger ones.

5. Salt. It may seem like an odd gift to a non-chef, but getting a few ounces of Danish Viking smoked sea salt or the Welsh sea salt Halen Mon is a culinary dream.

6. Ascutney Martini Glasses and Pitcher set. I give Simon Pearce glassware because it is beautiful, functional and always classic. He is a Vermont based British Glassmaker extraordinaire.

7. Schotts Food and Drink Miscellany. Just about the best book I have ever read. (I say that with a wink.) It's just lists of strange and interesting food and drink…well, miscellany.

8. A bottle (heck, if you can find it, a case) of 1985 Domaine Joseph Roty Burgundy and some 1990 Montefico Barbarescos. And why not throw in a nice wine cooler! I buy wine from The Wine Merchant in Beverly Hills.

9. Sarabeth Preserves. These kids certainly don’t need my endorsement, but their Strawberry-Peach preserves really are a little bit of heaven in a jar.

And now for that Salmon Chowder Recipe:

1 1/2 pound Yukon Gold potatoes
4 tablespoons butter 2 shallots, finely chopped
3 tablespoons flour
4 cups whole milk, warm
1 cup fish stock
2 pounds salmon fillet, skinned
6 ounces smoked salmon, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tarragon, minced fine (you can use savory or thyme instead) ½ cup corn (I admit, I use frozen)
Zest of one large lemon
Salt and pepper

Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/4-inch cubes. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat; add the shallot and cook, stirring often until softened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, pour in the hot milk and fish stock, and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Add the potatoes, season with salt, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the potatoes are almost tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the salmon and corn and cook until slightly firm to the touch, about 5 minutes. Transfer the salmon to a plate and break into chunks. Add the chunks, smoked salmon, tarragon and lemon zest and juice to the hot chowder. Season with salt and pepper and simmer until just heated through, about 2 minutes. Serves four-six

And when the cookies and cake have caught up to you, don’t forget to sign up with James Brown – Fitness Guru To The Chefs (and Stars, if you insist.)

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