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Something Special Gift List, 2006 
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Written: 11/2006


We’ve asked 10 members of our editorial staff to recommend a special item for the serious home cook.

Every year we ask our editorial staff to recommend gifts for home cooks. In 2004, we asked them to recommend stocking stuffers, and in 2005 we asked them to recommend items between $20 and $50. This year, we asked the test cooks and editors to suggest items that home cooks aren’t likely to buy for themselves—either because they’re specialized or a little costly. Here are their suggestions:

Christopher Kimball, Founder and Editor: Stovetop Cappuccino Maker
This device won’t make great, foamy cappuccino for a crowd, but it is extremely well suited for one large cup of café au lait, as it steams the milk and makes the coffee all at the same time. A great gift. (Click here for our roast coffee tasting.)
Bialetti Mukka Express Stovetop Cappuccino Maker
$89.95, item #0698, www.amazon.com

Jack Bishop, Executive Editor: White Truffle Honey
Frankly, most truffle products don't deliver. I hate truffle oil, for instance. This stuff, however, is amazing. I put out a jar with my cheese board. It works especially well with aged cheddar and is also great in a simple grilled cheese sandwich.
Truffle Honey, $18.95 (4.5 ounces), www.amazon.com

Rebecca Hays, Managing Editor: Instant-Read Digital Thermometer
Sight, touch, and instinct are age-old ways to gauge when food is done, but for consistent results, none is as reliable as taking the food’s temperature. We use our top-rated instant-read thermometer, the ThermoWorks Thermapen, many times a day in the test kitchen. Recently, a Super-Fast Thermapen came out, and it is indeed a little faster than the standard version, which is no slouch. (If you already have a Thermapen, click here for information on how to calibrate it.
Thermapen, $85.00, www.thermoworks.com

David Pazmiño, Test Cook: Digital Scale
Weighing ingredients produces the best results, especially in baking recipes like our Classic Pound Cake. I prefer digital scales, as they're easy to read. I especially like Soehnle's new model 65055—it's even sleeker and lighter than the Soehnle Futura model that it replaced.
Soehnle Scale 65055, $27.95, model #65055, www.chefscorner.com,

Erika Bruce, Associate Editor: Revolving Cake Stand
Revolving cake stands really help make frosting easy. They elevate a cake like our Tender Yellow Layer Cake, giving the baker a better view and making it possible to hold the spatula steady while rotating the stand. I like Ateco’s cake stands. The Professional Icing Turntable (a metal table over an enameled cast-iron base) is for the professional or very serious home cake decorator, and the plastic version (Deluxe Revolving Cake Stand) is just as good for occasional home use.
Ateco Professional Icing Turntable, $64.95, item # CD0910W
Ateco Deluxe Revolving Cake Stand, $26.50, item # CD0610
www.kitchenkrafts.com

Katherine Bell, Web Managing Editor, Salt Caramels
These chocolate-covered caramels topped with smoked Welsh sea salt and gray salt from off the coast of Brittany are unusual and addictive—I love the combination of sweetness and saltiness.
35 Piece Gray and Smoked Salt Caramels, $48 ($22 for 15 pieces)
www.franschocolates.com

Lisa McManus, Senior Editor: Knife Sharpener
We used to send all our knives out to be professionally sharpened, but now we use the Chef’s Choice Model 130 Professional Sharpening Station. It's the Rolls-Royce of knife sharpeners and basically foolproof. And click here for help in choosing a carving knife.
Chef’s Choice Model 130 Professional Sharpening Station$139.00, Item #: CC130, www.cutleryandmore.com

Kenji Alt, Test Cook, Immersion Blender
My hand blender is a real timesaver and easy to clean, especially after making our marinara sauce. There’s no need to blend in batches, wash a food processor, or cope with the blades at the bottom of the blender. Just rinse it off and toss it back in the drawer. We’ve found that the KitchenAid immersion blender does just as good a job as many traditional blenders.
KitchenAid KHB100 Immersion Hand Blender,$43.00, www.amazon.com

Lindsay McSweeney, Web Editor, Caviar
The classic New Year’s treat—champagne and caviar—is not unreasonable if you serve American caviar, an eco-friendly, reasonably priced alternative to Caspian Sea caviar that's still really tasty. To buy caviar that won’t bust the bank, look for paddlefish caviar (paddlefish is a relative of sturgeon). I like Gourmet Direct International’s Fresh Malossol Paddlefish Caviar, which has a buttery, briny, fresh, and clean-tasting flavor. And if you're serving the caviar with chilled vodka, here's our favorite cocktail shaker.
Gourmet Direct International’s Fresh Malossol Paddlefish Caviar, $15/ounce (not including shipping), www.911Caviar.com

Sandra Wu, Associate Editor, Paella Pan
You can make great paella without special equipment (my recipe for Paella calls for either a Dutch oven or a paella pan), but a paella pan makes a great presentation and really helps develop the socarrat, the distinctively crusty bottom layer of rice that characterizes a traditional paella. The 13.5-inch La Ideal Enameled Paella Pan combines a traditional appearance with an enameled surface that requires little maintenance. La Ideal Enameled Paella Pan, $24.00, www.spanishtable.com.

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