If there’s one thing that Colonel Dick Strawbridge is famous for – other than his walrus-like moustache – it’s his ability to knock up weird and wonderful cooking contraptions with consummate ease. So the Pro-Q smoke generator is the perfect present for Hungry Sailor fans and DIY fanatics, as it gives the recipient a good excuse to reach for their tool box and get creative.
The smoke generator comes with 100g of oak wood dust, which slowly burns over ten hours, pumping out aromatic smoke to cold-smoking anything from salmon to bacon. The fun comes from building an air-tight chamber to trap the smoke – perhaps from an old barbecue or filing cabinet. Though the more rustic and more creative the better…
The perfect present for that friend who has been getting a bit competitive with their dinner parties lately – hiring belly dancers for post-dinner entertainment, plying you with wine so that you’ll score them nicely…. The pack contains everything from score paddles for the taxi home to a winner’s certificate. In fact, the only thing missing is the £1,000 prize money and Dave Lamb’s sarcastic commentary.
This is a great gift for someone who is limbering up for the new season of MasterChef. It contains some critical pieces of professional kit to step things up a notch in the kitchen. The probe thermometer means that cooks can measure the exact temperature of cakes, cooked meat and sugar syrups. And the professional plating tools mean that mealtime presentation will surely be enough to make Gregg Wallace go “phwooar”.
Great British Bake Off: Floral bomber jacket (£30)
The cult-ish effect of Great British Bake Off meant that cook shops cashed in on the show’s success this autumn. But perhaps the surprise bestseller was the floral print bomber jacket that Mary Berry wore in episode seven. The Zara jacket sold out straight away, and soon bidding wars on ebay pushed the price of the £29.99 jacket to £200. Sadly there was never a reissue, but if you know someone who idolises the 77-year old style icon, then this ASOS version will pretty much make their Christmas.
Exploring China A Culinary Adventure: Great Hamper of China (£70)
This is the perfect present for somebody hungering after Hunanese and seeking out Sichuanese dishes after watching Hom and Huang’s four-part series this summer. The Great Hamper of China is crammed full of exciting and inspiring ingredients from black fungus to fermented bean curd and Sichuan’s tongue-tinglingly spicy peppercorns. The ideal present for a seasoned Sinologist, or somebody keen to learn more about Chinese cuisine.
Jamie’s 30-minte meals faced a lot of controversy when people put them to the test and discovered that…well, they took a lot longer than 30 minutes. So it was a brave move from the chef when he responded to the criticism by halving the time and creating a series of 15 minute meals. These are a bit more ‘bish, bosh, bash’, but 15 minutes still seems optimistic. So this kitchen timer is the perfect gift for Jamie Oliver fans who can race against the clock, and see if they can keep up with the once naked chef.
Throughout November, Ottolenghi made his television debut with a four-part series that saw him travelling through Morocco, Istanbul and Tunisia before reaching his native Israel, which provided the inspiration for his latest cookbook: Jerusalem. True to style, Ottolenghi hasn’t shied away from esoteric ingredients, which means that the book is best bought in this set which includes some of the harder-to-find ingredients such as tahini paste and sumac, so that keen chefs can start cooking straight away.
Not everybody can pull off a floral bomber a la Mary Berry. So here’s another great present for people who went weak at the mere thought of the tortes and tatins during the Great British Bake Off. This patissier’s hamper contains a variety of professional baking ingredients from couverture chocolate to the natural, Madagascan vanilla paste used by Ottolenghi and Patisserie Valerie – enough to inspire some beautiful sponges and biscuits in the year ahead.