Best Cooking Gifts for Kids (and their Parents)

Image courtesy of the Kids Cook Real Food online course (details below).

Are you a parent who loves to cook and eat well, and want to get your children involved in the kitchen? Or maybe you’re the uncle/aunt/godfather/godmother/best grownup friend of a child who’s already figured out the kitchen is the happiest place in the world? Here is my selection of best cooking gifts for kids, all of them adorable but actually functional, to encourage that budding passion.

This is one in a series of themed gift guides I am publishing this week; here’s the complete list of my best gift guides.

LIMITED-TIME OFFER! Etsy is currently running a cool promotion for new customers: if your first order is over $50, you’ll get a $10 gift certificate toward a future purchase! (Valid until Dec. 12.) I’ve marked Etsy items below so you can identify them easily by searching for “Etsy”.

Best Cooking Gifts for Children (and their Parents!)

Handmade Kid’s Apron [Etsy]

apron

These adorable handmade aprons, for toddlers or older children, have an easy velcro belt so they can put it on and off independently, whatever their age. My eldest son Milan is in love with his, and he won’t let me get started with anything until he’s slipped it on. Karla Norgaard makes these by hand in the US using really sweet fabrics, and she is offering C&Z readers a 15% discount if you use the promo code CANDZ.

Kids Cook Real Food Online Course

Kids Cook Real Food

We all have good intentions in teaching our kids kitchen skills, but knowing where to start and how to go about it isn’t so easy. Katie Kimball’s online class Kids Cook Real Food is the best resource I’ve found on the subject, offering a series of beautifully produced, on-point videos that are incredible learning tools.

Enrollment for the course is only open a few times each year; if you fall outside those windows, just add your name to the waiting list. You can offer the course as a gift — check the FAQ “Can I give the eCourse as a gift?” at the bottom of this page — and you’ll receive a printable gift certificate for the lucky recipient. There is a money-back guarantee so they can decide if it works for them.

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Best Gifts for the French-Loving Cook

Gorgeous stove photo courtesy of La Cornue.

Do you have a cook in your life who loves all things French? A total Francophile who is sure he/she was français(e) in a previous life? Here’s a hand-picked selection of utensils and ingredients to Frenchify their kitchen with style!

This is one in a series of themed gift guides I am publishing this week; here’s the complete list of my best gift guides.

Best Cooking Gifts for Francophiles

French-style Kitchen Towels

French-Style Kitchen Towel

These French-style kitchen towels, simple and stylish, are made with highly absorbent cotton. (Hint: The pros always have one tied to the waist of their apron.)

French bread knife

Opinel Bread Knife

I am a big fan of this French-made bread knife from Opinel, an 1890 company based in Savoie. It is lovely to look at, the beech wood handle is comfortable to hold, and the stainless steel, slightly curved, serrated blade is super sharp. I have now given it as a gift to three different recipients, and the joy in their eyes cannot be faked.

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30-Minute Vegan Risotto with Kale and Mushrooms

Could there be anything more comforting, on a damp November night, than a beautiful plate of creamy risotto? The aromas dancing up to your nose, delivering the scents of fall in the form of soft kale ribbons and meaty morsels of mushrooms?

Well, sure, you say, that sounds more than okay. But risotto requires you to stand and stir, and I am tired. Yes, I reply, but. There is another way: you can cook risotto in the pressure cooker.

It is quite revolutionary, and I may very well incur the wrath and curse of generations of Italian mammas, but I need to share this: a super simple method that brings risotto from stove to table in thirty minutes flat, ingredient prep included.

That weeknight risotto seems a lot more realistic now, right?

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25 French Recipes for Thanksgiving

Gorgeous stove photo courtesy of La Cornue.

Thanksgiving isn’t a thing in my own very French family, but I have many American friends in Paris who do celebrate it.

They usually host their special meal on the Saturday following the actual Thanksgiving Thursday, since French companies and schools don’t consider it a holiday (obv.).

A few years ago, it was a real challenge to find a whole turkey to roast in Paris in November — easier around Christmas — but Parisian butchers have gotten the memo, and have started advertising turkeys to their American customers, in varying levels of English. Ordering in advance is a must. (If you’re nervous about this, read my tips on Paris butcher shops.)

Through my extended family and friends, I have been fortunate to partake in a few Thanksgiving meals over the years, on both sides of the Atlantic. The feeling of warmth and the amazing food are not soon forgotten.

And when I am invited, I like to contribute dishes that are both French in spirit, but fit nicely into the Thanksgiving traditions.

So here are my suggestions of French recipes for Thanksgiving, if you want to add a little Gallic flair to your all-American celebration. Did you know French settlers actually preceded the Mayflower Pilgrims by several decades in holding the first Thanksgiving service in the New World?

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Goat Cheese and Herb Babka

When I lived in California, Saturday mornings saw me driving to the farmers market as bright and early as I possibly could, to get my fill of gorgeous produce and crisp morning air.

I would stroll around from favorite stall to favorite stall, including the cornucopian mushroom stand we still talk about with stars in our eyes. And when I was done with my “need” purchases — you know, grownup stuff like fruits and vegetables and bread and eggs — I would start weighing my “want” options.

The market treat that most frequently got my vote came from the little Russian pastry table that stood in one corner of the market. The woman there sold a marvellous poppy seed pastry that was all dark swirls and golden, sticky crests. Back home, I would slice it thinly and eat it with tea, checking my teeth for stray poppy seeds when I was done.

Despite moving home to Paris, I never could get that pastry out of my head. Alas, I did not know the name for it — it was always a point-and-smile kind of transaction — and my research led me nowhere. It was not a rugelach, it was not a kolache, it was not a makovník… but what was it?

And then, our blessed Internet did its magic. Through its grapevine and Pinterest (follow me there!) I learned of something that was gaining incredible popularity: the chocolate babka or krantz cake, a yeasted cake of Eastern European Jewish origin that is rolled up and twisted to form multiple layers of attraction.

Goat Cheese and Herb Babka

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