Making a roux. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

I’m going to devote the next several days to my top picks for holiday shopping for kitchen tools, as I did last year. I’ll have a day for big-ticket items, lower-priced tools, and my favorite cookbooks of the season.

I’m starting with my favorite tools that OpenSky has sourced for me—first, the higher-priced items and then lower-priced items, and concluding with my top pick for every kitchen on my or anyone’s Opensky page.

The above Fagor induction burner is killer for so many reasons. It gets pans really hot really fast really efficiently. It’s portable so you can use it anywhere that there’s an outlet. We used it last night in the dining room to keep the gravy hot.  It’s a great extra burner for big cooking days and it’s perfect for tiny kitchens or if you have a crappy electric stove that you don’t intend to replace, but you sometimes want some serious power under your sauté pan. Note, you need heavy-gauge steel or iron pans; induction won’t work with aluminum or Pyrex pans.

For those who love to makes sausage, here is the grinder I use and love and the stuffer I use and love.

I’ve become a huge, huge fan of the pressure cooker. I can get a tough braised stew done in 45 minutes that once took four hours. Beans from dry to cooked in 20 minutes. The thing’s amazing. Have a look at for a sense of its versatility.

I’ve gotten by without all of the above, but I couldn’t get by more than one day without my Boos cutting board. It’s one of the five most important tools in your kitchen. If you have a small or lightweight cutting surface, cooking is a headache.

Of course a signed copy of Ruhlman’s Twenty: 20 Techniques, 100 Recipes, a Cook’s Manifesto makes the perfect gift for anyone who loves to cook, anyone who wants to be a better and smarter cook.

This is by no means a must, but I really love this wooden bowl and mezzaluna. The bowl is a great all-purpose (and lovely) bowl for salads and sides, but when I want to make egg salad or chopped liver lickety-split, this is what I use. I don’t need the five-wheel bicycle pastry cutter, but it sure is cool for making ravioli and other pasta shapes, cutting all kinds of dough evenly (this is the kind of gift that’s fun to give—something your friend or son or daughter, mom or dad, wouldn’t buy for themselves because it’s too extravagant or they really don’t need it—that’s what a gift is all about).

For an inexpensive but invaluable gift go with the CIA side towels; join me in my quest to rid the world of potholders, which are clunky, inelegant, difficult to use and really only good as a stand-in for a trivet.

Making guacamole in the mortar.

Now, my all-time favorite item that OpenSky has sourced is something that’s not expensive but incredibly valuable: the Atlas Mortar & Pestle. I love this thing. It’s my spice grinder, it’s my rillette maker, it’s my salsa processor, it’s my guacamole maker and server. I muddle tart cherry preserves and herbs in it, then add rum or gin or bourbon for a great zinger or mojito or julep. It’s heavy so it doesn’t move around on me. It’s coarse but not like lava rock, which some mortars are. It’s perfect in every way.

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

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.