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Looking for a gift for the would-be chef this holiday season? Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst asked a few of her food friends what kitchen gadget they can't live without, and added one of her own.
She brings Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson and Robin Young their suggestions, and recipes that use them.
After spending a year cooking soup and developing soup recipes for my new book “Soup Swap” (Chronicle Books), I have become very attached to my immersion blender. I use it to whirl up pureed soups, sauces, vegetables and more. I love that I can make a dish in one pot, puree it directly in that pot and never have to clean out (or use) a blender or food processor.
An immersion blender is like a blender on a long stick. You place the blender end directly into a pot of food and whirl it. Immersion blenders are relatively inexpensive and a great tool for pureeing soups or any other dishes.
Escarole, a slightly bitter variety of endive, looks like a big head of lettuce with broad leaves and a wonderful crunch. High in folic acid and fiber, it’s loaded with vitamins and makes an excellent soup.
This is a thick, warming soup with white cannellini beans, lots of garlic, and chicken stock (you can easily substitute vegetable stock). If you have a Parmesan cheese rind in your freezer add it to the soup; before serving, be sure to remove it with a slotted spoon.
The soup has a surprisingly complex flavor but takes well under an hour to make. You could also top the soup with some cooked, crumbled pancetta or bacon. Makes 8 full servings.
Recipe from the book SOUP SWAP by Kathy Gunst. Copyright © 2016 by Kathy Gunst. Republished with permission of Chronicle Books.
Evan Mallett is chef at the Black Trumpet restaurant in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and author of “Black Trumpet: A Chef’s Journey Through Eight New England Seasons.” He says he can’t live without his "ancient Lodge square 10- or 12-inch cast iron pan.”
“They are the original non-stick pan, and they last a lifetime. We also use small Lodge cast iron pans to weigh down pates, to make 'panini'-style grilled croques, and to press skin-on fish fillets so their skin becomes extra crispy.”
This is a twist on an old favorite. Instead of a breakfast strata or hash, this is a quick hearty breakfast or brunch dish perfect for the holidays that can be made ahead of time — or even frozen and covered up to a month before serving.
I use my favorite buttermilk-chive-scallion corn bread, made directly in a 10-inch square cast-iron or heavy ovenproof skillet, poured on top of spicy sausage sautéed until golden brown. The corn bread can be served warm, topped or accompanied by a fried or poached egg for a simple holiday breakfast. Serves 8.
Evan’s Shopping Tip: "Lodge cast iron skillets are made in the U.S, reasonably priced and last a lifetime."
Named the “poet laureate of the wok” by the food historian Betty Fussell, Grace Young has devoted her career to celebrating wok cookery. She is the James Beard Award-winning author of “Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Mastery, with Authentic Recipes and Stories.”
"I can’t live without my wok(s) — I’m a wokaholic and confess to having a large collection. The wok is of course, the ultimate stir-fry pan but I also love it for scrambling eggs, steaming fish, boiling dumplings, poaching fish, pan-frying steaks, deep-frying spring rolls, braising a stew, smoking tofu, roasting a chicken and even making popcorn. The beauty of a carbon-steel wok is it acquires a natural nonstick surface the more you cook with it — so very little oil is needed.”
This fall she is featured in the Museum of Chinese in America’s exhibition, “Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy.” Young is also the co-founder of Wok Wednesdays, an online stir-fry and wok cooking group. Below is her recipe for a simple, very fresh tasting vegetable stir fry.
Grace’s Shopping Tip: "WokShop.com sells the all-time best wok for the bargain price of $25. There are several styles, but I recommend the 14-inch flat-bottomed carbon-steel wok with the long wooden handle and a small wooden spoon handle."
Martha Rose Shulman is a James Beard Award-winning author and the author of many cookbooks. She writes the Recipes for Health column for the New York Times. Her favorite kitchen object is an old rolling pin.
"There was a time when my stepmother Mary thought she was going to do some serious baking. That never happened, so she gave me the equipment she’d bought. This heavy dowel rolling pin has become a treasured item in my batterie de cuisine. I use it for pie dough and cookies mainly, but also to crush nuts and spices. I love the feel of it, the evenness of the roll.”
A savoury crostada, made with a simple thyme-flavored pastry, rolled into a large circle and filled with sautéed butternut squash, red onion and feta cheese. The pastry can be made a day ahead. Serve as a main course, first course or with soup and a wintery mixture of bitter salad greens. Serves 4 to 8.
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