The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is in full swing and with that it seems so is the seasonal uptake in my consumption of sweets and adult beverages. The week before the holidays is always a bit of an endurance test.
A steady flow of Christmas cookies, tower boxes of chocolates, and other sugary delights always find a spot in my office kitchen. And after several walk-bys, the idea of pairing my morning coffee with a sugary Santa cookie becomes all that more appealing.
Then there are the work parties, holiday happy hours, and honestly any festive excuse for people to show up at a bar. All of which, while enjoyable, have overtaken any spare writing time in my schedule, in addition to making my mornings at the office start with two Tylenol.
All of that said, my sincerest apologies for not posting anything new in the last weeks, and a promise to you all that the site will be back it’s regularly scheduled programming from this point on.
I have to admit, unless something stands out to me during the year as the “perfect Christmas gift” for someone, a majority of my holiday shopping tends to happen the week and even weekend before Christmas.
And with the big guy set to come down the chimney tonight (Yikes!), I thought I’d give some recommendations on kitchen gifts and stocking stuffers for my fellow procrastinators, along with a yummy Asparagus and Gouda Frittata recipe for Christmas morning (see recipe below).
1. All Purpose Pantry Towels, Set of 4, $19.95, Williams-Sonoma
I’m in love with these towels. They are highly absorbent, which is hard to come by in towels, and come in colors that will add some pop to your kitchen décor. Perfect for using in a gift basket, stocking stuffer, or I like to wrap one around a bottle of wine with a ribbon.
This is by far the best grater and zester ever. I use it to grate fresh cheese over pasta or for recipes, and to zest oranges and other citrus fruits with ease. Easy to wash and will become an indispensable kitchen item for any home cook.
3. Silicone Cookware – Whisk, $3.95; Spatula, $6.95, Crate and Barrel
I’ve become slightly obsessed with silicone cookware. Heat-resistant and safe for use on your nonstick pans, I use the spatulas for scrambled eggs and omelets and the whisks for hot liquid mixture without worry of the edges of the utensils burning. This spatula has a head that detaches, for easy cleanup too.
Under The Tree
1. KitchenAid Artisan 5-quart Stand Mixer, $349.99, Target
My father has had his KitchenAid since I was a little girl and the thing still works like it did the day he bought it. These high quality and multi-use mixers come with a paddle, whisk and hook attachments for you to make everything under the sun, from breads and cakes to whipped cream and pasta fillings. And the creativity doesn’t stop there, with attachments for you to purchase to make sausages, pastas, the list goes on… This is definitely an investment piece for any cook’s kitchen, but well worth it.
Since coming out with their mixers in 1919, the colors have certainly gotten an update as evidence from this pretty Ice Blue option.
2. Le Creuset 7 ¼ Quart Round French Oven
Another key piece for any cook’s kitchen, this oven-proof pot is going to last forever, I kid you not. You can sear or braise meats on the stove before making a stew in the same pot, which with its spacious interior can hold a lot. And the interior enamel enables burn-on ingredients to come off much easier during cleaning. I personally enjoy the deep reddish-orange color.
3. The Joy of Cooking (Hardcover) $21.82, Amazon.com
First published in 1931 and selected by the New York Public Library as one of the 150 most important and influence books of the twentieth century, it has taught millions of people how to cook, along with answering countless kitchen and food questions. My father gave me one long ago and I turn to it on many occasions and is a great resource for any cook to have in their kitchen.
4. Zoku Quick Pop Maker, $49.95, Williams-Sonoma
I received this for a birthday gift last year and love to use it when hot weather hits or when I just feel like a popsicle. The great thing is you can come up with your own creative varieties using ingredients you may not normally think would be in a popsicle. Personal favorites from my kitchen are strawberry basil, vanilla cherry and mango banana popsicle.
Now that you have some gift ideas, here is a simple and flavorful frittata for Christmas morning. I love the smoky taste of Gouda with my frittatas lately, and especially enjoy the cheese with asparagus and onion. Enjoy and Happy Holidays !
Asparagus and Gouda Frittata
2 tablespoons of skim milk
salt and pepper
1/2 cup of shredded gouda cheese
One bunch of asparagus
one small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh parsley
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and milk and some salt and fresh ground pepper. Set aside.
Wash the asparagus and then snap off the ends. Chop the asparagus into thirds. (When you hold an asparagus spear, you should be able to snap it at the bottom and it will naturally snap off the appropriate amount of end).
In a large ovenproof sauté pan, melt the butter and sauté the onions over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add in the asparagus and toss with the onion, cooking another 3 or 4 minutes, until softened.
Spread the asparagus and onion evenly around the pan and then pour the egg mixture on top. Cook for about 4 to 5 minutes, lifting up the edges with a spoon or spatula to let the uncooked egg distribute around the pan.
Just as the edges are starting to cook, sprinkle the gouda and fresh parsley on top. Place pan into the oven and broil for 3 to 4 minutes, until lightly brown and fluffy.
Remove pan from oven and cut the frittata into wedges. Serve.