Upgrade Your Kitchen to the 21st Century


Holiday Gift Guide with Alison Corbat

By now you have established your reputation as either a passionate home cook or simply, as your mother would be proud to note, a "healthy" eater. However, your kitchen appliances might not quite be up to par with your culinary skills or insatiable appetite. As this holiday season approaches, throw out your manual can opener and ask your loved ones to help furnish your new, technologically-advanced kitchen.

When compiling your new dream kitchen wish list, you might as well aspire to adorn your food workshop in a style that rivals a true restaurant. Marcus Samuelsson's BlueStar ranges are inspired by commercial versions, but are tailored for the home cook. The company's easy-to-use website allows you to build your own stove and burner combination based on color, size, and more. With its stainless steel production, energy efficiency, and professional French doors, this range is sure to inspire jealousy from even the most experienced cooks. While you are shopping for professional-quality items, do not overlook Chef Samuelsson's cookware. This dishwasher- and oven-safe cooking gear possesses an aluminum core to allow for even temperature distribution. The pans are available either non-coated or many are also offered with a Eco-Satin Non-PFO nonstick cooking surface.

If you are looking for more kitschy items, gifts like the Nordicware® Snowflake and Holiday Pancake Pans will add a festive note to your seasonal breakfasts. Or, since many of us would prefer to forget the chilly days we are now experiencing, we can instead brighten our spirits by asking for accessories to outfit our summer grills. Williams-Sonoma offers innovative tools such as the Meat Grill Basket, which allows you to smoke globes of your favorite ground meats quickly and easily. Incorporate some spice into your sizzling cookout with the convenient Jalapeno Pepper Roaster. You can further add some balance to your barbecued meat meal with crisply grilled vegetables straight from your garden using the Wilton Armetale Vegetable Grill. This convenient tray is sectioned off to allow for easy seasoning and uniformed preparation, making it a first-rate alternative to simply wrapping everything in tin foil.

While you are daydreaming about your fun-filled meals out in the yard, why not also reminisce about days of yore with old fashioned products from Nostalgia Electrics. These joyous items, such as the Retro Series Pop-Up Hot Dog Toaster and Ice Cream Sandwich Maker, will transport you back to the 1950's while adding a creative element to your standard counter appliances.  You can purchase these statement-inducing products at your local retailers, such as Target® and Bed Bath and Beyond®.

For all of you bakers out there who are tired of traditional baking methods, you will be thrilled to hear about innovative new products that will insert pizzazz into your standard preparation repertoire. Chicago Metallic makes loads of specialty bread and pastry baking pans to assist in the creation of your treats. Uniform brownie tins and pastry batter dispensers ensure that your desserts are always evenly shaped and equally portioned; now no one can complain that their cookie is smaller than someone else's! Breville®, the renown producer of small kitchen electronics, has also just introduced their custom pie maker, accurately called the Personal Pie, that allows pastry chefs to compose mini tarts each stuffed with different fillings to satisfy everyone in their dining party.

Speaking of parties, what turns an everyday chef into a culinary superstar? The people that get to enjoy their creations, of course! Entertainers can rally their guests for an evening of skewered fondue excitement around the do-it-yourself Electric Raclette Maker, or they can let everyone customize personal pies with the PizzaDome 4-Person Portable Italian Brick Oven. Since you cannot just serve your guests food without some fun beverages, try Bodum's ® Ceylon Jumbo Ice Tea Jug, which is the perfect vessel for crafting iced tea, sangria, or any other party-sized beverage in which you want to infuse the liquid with flavor but reduce the presence of pulp or other additives.

Now that all of your specialty cooking needs have been catered to, let's consider the general cook's daily meal preparation, which is likely the most in need of a technological makeover. Household chefs can start their family's morning off on the right foot with custom made yogurt courtesy of Williams-Sonoma's exclusive Automatic Yogurt Maker. The healthy, homemade alternatives keep on coming with the ability to craft your own, reduced sugar sodas with the Soda Stream Soda Maker or even fruity gelato with the DeLonghi GM6000 Gelato Maker with Self-Refrigerating Compressor. Plus, with the Breville® Digital Steamer, you can toss out your flimsy, holey aluminum tray in exchange for this three-tiered electronic version that quickly cooks up low calorie ingredients in approximately 30 seconds.

Hopefully these elaborate tools have inspired you to revamp your culinary wardrobe. Plus, the best part is that you are hearing about these fabulous instruments during the holiday season, when you can add them to your wish list without having to open your wallet at the same time!