With Christmas less than two weeks away, I’ve received many e-mails and calls from readers. I’ve enjoyed hearing from each of you and sharing your excitement as you prepare for the upcoming celebrations. Your questions have been varied — ranging from culinary gifts to recipe requests. Many of you were soliciting advice in finding a special item.
Q. We have several in our family who love to cook. I am looking for quality stocking-stuffer items that would be useful and that they would enjoy. What small items do you regularly use that you could recommend?
A. I think every kitchen should have a set of stainless steel, rectangular shaped measuring spoons. They are unusual as they also have 1/8 and 3/4 teaspoon measurements. With their rectangular shape, they slide easily into spice jars. Because they are stainless, they go in the dishwasher and do not discolor but retain their bright finish. Other gadgets I use and love are stainless steel measuring cups;, good silicon brushes that clean easily, a self-cleaning garlic press, heat-resistant silicone spatulas that do not melt when stirring hot mixtures, herb shears, instant-read thermometers and a cheese knife so versatile that I use it to slice everything!
Q. Can you tell us the brand of the stove-top smoker that you wrote about, and where we can find it?
A. The one I use is the Camerons Stovetop smoker. It was rated No. 1 by Cooks Illustrated. I carry the smoker in my store but it is also available online. The company website is http://cameronsmoker.com, though the smoker is available elsewhere as well.
Q. We are having relatives stay overnight with us. I don’t do breakfast. But I will need to have something for my guests that is delicious but also easy. Do you have an easy breakfast casserole that can be assembled the day ahead?
A. Yes, here is one that is a standby; it can be made the day ahead and baked while you are enjoying a cup of coffee.