A great gift for the season. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

Kitchen tools need not be expensive to be valuable. The above Benriner mandoline is one of my most valued kitchen tools for uniform slicing, julienning, and making brunoise (a julienne turned into a dice). By far my most valuable electric device in my kitchen is the hand blender—I use Braun that seems to be unavailable, but I bought this Cuisinart version for my mom  ($47) and it works well—these devices all do the job of pureeing soups and sauces, easy whisking, quick mayonnaise, and I make vinaigrettes in the cup attachment, which will even emulsify a great Caesar dressing will pureeing the garlic.

Every kitchen needs a scale, the most reliable way of measuring, especially if you’re baking (which is why more cookbooks are including, if not leading with, metric weights, as does the ground-breaking Bouchon Bakery cookbook—another lovely gift, come to think of it!). I use two, one for measuring heavier items, pounds of flour, say, and one for very small amounts, such as 3 grams of yeast.

An instant-read digital thermometer is a must. This Le Creuset from OpenSky is $30; the professionals go for the Thermapen ($89).

For measuring temps of roasts in the oven or on the grill, a cable thermometer is a great asset. I’ve been using this RediCheck cable thermometer for years and love it. But I also got an even cooler one that connects to my iPhone via Bluetooth; it’s called the iGrill but I use it more for the oven. It’s the bomb!

Every kitchen needs a good pepper grinder for freshly ground pepper that, importantly, doesn’t grind too coarsely; you need a mill for fine grinding, and Peugeot’s are excellent ($51), the usual choice in the professional kitchen.

I’ve already mentioned this from my OpenSky collection, but a mortar and pestle ($44) is one of my most treasured kitchen tools, allowing me to pulverize toasted whole spices in an instant, make great salsas, even guacamole.

Can’t forget the Microplane, a real game changer when the company (which originally created them for woodworking) introduced models for the kitchen, for all manner of zesting and grating.

I love my fluted pastry wheel for making decorative edges to pastries, and lattice pies. Disposable pastry bags are a great inexpensive gift.

And last but not least, while I’m wary of what Alton Brown calls the unitasker, the kitchen tool that does only one thing, I would be very sad to lose this lemon juicer. Fresh lemon and lime juice are always in play in my kitchen and this baby makes juicing the work of a moment. Worth the $10? Yeah.

Cooking is a craft, and good tools are a must with any craft.


SousVide Supreme, wants to want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Their Black Friday promotion, running this weekend (Fri thru Mon) online at www.sousvidesupreme.com.

For only $449 ($749 usually), you can get a SousVide Supreme Chef unit and a free vacuum sealer ($129).


© 2012 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2012 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.


12 Wonderful responses to “Holiday Gift Week:
Small-Ticket Items”

  • Victoria

    I got the KD kitchen scale on MR’s recommendation and highly recommend it for the baker in your life. It’s great; I use it for no-knead bread, just adding ingredients as I go along.

    The Thermapen is also a fabulous gift, especially since it might not be something someone will by for him/herself.

    MR, your recommendations are really appreciated.

  • Sean B

    While this belongs more in big-ticket items, I wanted to add this to your mention of the iPad as a game-changer in the kitchen: the HoverBar from twelvesouth.com. (I don’t work for them.)

    It’s a flexible arm with an iPad holder on the end, and has a clamp that attaches securely to a counter or a table. It’s a great way to use your iPad in the kitchen without taking up counter space.

  • GSperling

    Gifts for Social Entertaining!
    Aprons,tea towels,oven mitts,pot holders and more..wine theme gifts like How Merlot can you go,iWine,Chairman of the Bordeaux..BarBQ aprons,
    Movie Aprons,Foodie Gifts..
    like shiitake happens..
    As seen in Oprah’s O List..
    Made in the USA
    (Green Everyday)
    Buy any 3 items…
    and get every 4th one FREE!

    • ruhlman

      This is advertcomment, but I’ll keep it here for those who are curious about the site linked. I personally think anything other than a blue, white, or striped commis apron is silly, but that’s just me. Who GSperling is is unclear.

  • Lynn

    The Braun immersion blender linked to in this article is a non-US model and there doesn’t appear to be an economical Braun model available from Amazon. The reviews would lead one to believe that this item was sold for use in the US in the past. Still looking for a good economical immersion blender.

    • ruhlman

      Thanks for pointing this out. Too bad. I like how closely the blade sits to the glass. I’ve relinked to a cuisinart version I’ve used, is likewise in expensive and works.

    • WilliamB

      I’ve occasionally seek the KA stick blender on sale for $30. I bought mine for $45, it’s lasted 6 years and going strong. I consider it money well spent. Mine came with tall, narrowish plastic container w/ lid, a good size to blend in.

  • Frank

    I whole-heartedly agree about the unitasker listed. I can’t go on enough about how fast, easy, and useful the lemon juicer is!!! I love that style… and it always gets a good workout in my kitchen!


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