Best Christmas gifts for confirmed foodies

Last week we discussed the Top 5 entry-level gifts for the folks on your list who are just dipping their toes into culinary waters. This week we're back with five suggestions for your friends who scoff at Rachael Ray, wouldn't deign to eat at Chipotle, and top their popcorn with white truffle-infused plugras. That's right: we're tackling gifts for confirmed foodies with the help of Marie Dwyer of Cooks of Crocus Hill.

1. Vitamix, $599 Yeah, we saw that price tag too. But Dwyer says the Vitamix is well worth the sticker shock. "This is a professional-quality machine that is a serious investment for serious chefs," she explains. What's so great about this blender? For one thing, it can make hot soups. The blade on this blender goes so fast that it actually heats up what you're mixing; throw some tomatoes, cream, onion, and garlic in the Vitamix and you have hot soup in seconds. "I've never seen one of these machines come back, because they last forever," adds Dwyer.

2. Kikuichi 8-inch chef's knife, $260 We could tell the Kikuichi knife was legit based on how gingerly Dwyer handled the insanely sharp blade. Handmade in Japan--and only a small number are made--this thin blade isn't as hefty as a Wusthof and features carbon steel sandwiched inside stainless steel. "If you have this knife you've hit the big time," says Dwyer. "If someone gave you this you'd feel very well taken care of."

3. Emile Henry Pizza Stone, $50 More manageable price-wise than the Kikuichi or the Vitamix, the pizza stone offers chefs who are fans of baking a way to get crispy breads and pizzas. In fact, Dwyer recommends putting the stone, made of Burgundy clay from France, on the grill for great grill-fired pizzas in the summer. "Anything dough-based is great to bake on a stone like this," she explains.

4. Salted, $35 Recently featured on Lynn Rosetto Kasper's MPR show The Splendid Table, author Mark Bitterman's book Salted is a great resource for seasoned cooks who want to learn more about the flavor components of salts from around the world. "There's so much depth to salt, and the resource guide alone makes this book a great purchase for any cook," says Dwyer.

5. Citrus Vinegar, $30 With all lavish gadgets (see the Vitamix above) available for purchase, Dwyer seemed the most excited about a bottle of citrus vinegar. "This vinegar is so bright and smooth it zips up anything you're making," says Dwyer. "The lemon citrus works in a simple vinaigrette or for poaching fish. We sell a ton of it!"


Top 5 Christmas gifts for newbie cooks

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