Holiday Gift Guide: The home cook

For more gift ideas: The Baker, The Food Snob, The Locavore and The Merrymaker


Avid cooks already have pantry staples and basic kitchen gizmos, but we’ll bet most of them don’t have the goods on this list. Wrap up an award-winning cookbook, razor-sharp ceramic cutlery or a selection of floral waters, unique sauces or vinegars. You’re bound to get a gleeful shout – and maybe even a gourmet dinner.

1. Rose’s Heavenly Cakes
Baking guru Rose Levy Beranbaum’s recipe book was named 2010 Cookbook of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and with good reason – Rose’s Heavenly Cakes offers sweet sensations for any celebration. $39.95. Left Bank Books, 399 N. Euclid Ave., St. Louis, 314.367.6731 and 321 N. 10th St., St. Louis, 314.436.3049.

2. Herb keeper
No more limp parsley or dried-out rosemary: Home cooks can double the shelf life of fresh herbs with Cuisipro’s herb keeper. The suspended tray system makes it easy to store and access herbs. Just immerse stems in water and lift the removable tray to drain. $19.95. Kitchen Conservatory, 8021 Clayton Road, Clayton, 314.862.2665.

3. Floral waters
True flower waters, also known as hydrosols, add lovely flavor and aroma to desserts like custards, pastries, ice cream and rice pudding. A touch of rosewater transforms ricotta or mascarpone cheese into something downright luxurious. Home cooks who love morning fare will swoon over homemade elderflower, orange water or lavender simple syrup drizzled atop waffles or pancakes. $7.25 to $8.97 per 2-oz. spray bottle. Cheryl’s Herbs, 7170 Manchester Road, Suite A, Maplewood, 314.645.2165.

4. Ceramic knife and adjustable slicer gift set
Ceramic? Yep. That razor-sharp Santoku blade will retain its original sharpness 10 times longer than a steel knife. It won’t rust, transfer metal ions to food or corrode from acids. And it’s half the weight of steel, which means your favorite cook can cut fruit, veggies or meat to his heart’s content. The mandolin offers four thickness cuts and doesn’t require switching out the blades. $59.99. Chef’s Shoppe, 2320 Troy Road, Edwardsville, 618.659.9840.

5. Stainless steel compost bin
Composting is de rigueur, yet coffee canisters are so passé. This durable brushed stainless steel compost bin with an in-lid charcoal filter will keep noses happy and the countertop looking snazzy. $29.95. Williams-Sonoma, 260 Plaza Frontenac, Frontenac, 314.567.9211 and 227 Chesterfield Mall, Chesterfield, 636.536.4370.

6. Smoke-roasted jalapeño sauce
This sauce by tiny Ozarks-based Smoke Canyon is smokin’ good – and a must for marinating or basting grilled poultry, meat and fish. It also gives Tex-Mex appeal to vegetable and bean dishes. $4.95 per 5-oz. bottle. Cornucopia, 107 N. Kirkwood Road, Kirkwood, 314.822.2440.

7. Balsam cream fig-chile vinegar
Home cooks will love this specialty vinegar made of concentrated fig juice, fig vinegar and chile essence. It’s got a kick but is still velvety sweet, making it a perfect topper for greens and even barbecue. $8.29 per 100-ml bottle. Vom Fass, 7314 Manchester Road, Maplewood, 314.932.5262.