Looking for gift suggestions? Here is my holiday gift guide, chock-full of product recommendations which would make excellent festive gifts. I was excited to collaborate with some amazing companies this year, and I look forward to more exciting culinary discoveries in 2024 and beyond.
Happy shopping, everyone 🙂
- La Brea Bakery cookbook and giveaway
With cookbook publishing going strong and the appetite for these books predicted to continue for the foreseeable future, cookbooks make excellent holiday gifts. I am happy to share that La Brea Bakery’s new cookbook, From Starter to Finish: Sourdough Breadmaking and Culinary Inspirations is hot off the press, just in time for the holidays!
La Brea Bakery has led the modern artisan bread movement since 1989 with its iconic sourdough starter made from scratch using flour, water, and wild yeasts from the skin of organic grapes. With a signature golden crust and soft interior, La Brea Bakery artisan breads grace the tables of homes and restaurants across the country. Now fans of La Brea Bakery will find more inspiration for their meals with the La Brea Bakery cookbook, a collection of recipes incorporating artisan bread designed for both seasoned and aspiring home bakers and chefs, passionate sourdough aficionados, and devotees of the La Brea Bakery brand.
Diving into the art of bread making, From Starter to Finish shares breadmaking insights, tips, and techniques, along with the secrets of sourdough, and delicious recipes for every meal and every occasion. From Maple-Bacon Breakfast Sandwich and Cinnamon Raisin French Toast with Apple Cider Syrup to Classic Steakhouse Ribeye Sandwich, an array of delectable and unique Grilled Cheese recipes, and Toasted Wheat Panzanella Salad, and ending with La Brea Bakery Café’s Signature Bread Pudding, and Caramelized Telera Ice Cream Sandwiches, all recipes look gorgeous and very tempting, and are excellent choices for both day-to-day menu planning and for holiday entertaining.
La Brea Bakery’s From Starter to Finish is the perfect gift for artisan bread lovers and for foodies and non-foodies alike, and its detailed explanations, stunning pictures, and overall exquisite mixture of style and substance make this cookbook a treasure trove of information and inspiration.
Stay tuned for an upcoming giveaway on my Instagram channel and enter for a chance to win a copy of La Brea Bakery’s cookbook and a year’s supply of La Brea bread 🙂
This year I discovered and experimented with several condiment brands, such as Tannenbaum’s Botanical Hot Sauces. My heart won over by the immersive storytelling I found on the website, I looked forward to giving these sauces a try, and I was in for a treat!
According to founder Harvey Tannenbaum, “As the story goes, when sweet & saucy met hot & naughty, a kind of culinary magic happened. And that’s how we like to describe Tannenbaum’s Botanical Hot Sauce. It starts with the goodness of juicy, whole fruits (and lots of love) just like grandma’s fruit preserves. But that’s kind of where the similarity ends. Because, Tannenbaum’s is not your typical hot sauce.”
As Tannenbaum adds further, “When I started making my habanero products, I never intended to start a food business. In fact, I didn’t even start out making sauces! I had acquired a bumper crop of habaneros and needed something to do with them. I did the research, taught myself how to make jelly, created a habanero jelly recipe, and it became a hit with friends and colleagues (…) I played around with different textures and consistencies. Eventually, my habanero jelly became a habanero sauce, and people tell me they love how easy it is to use my sauces on just about everything. That’s what I like to hear.”
I have been a fan of burnt Basque cheesecakes for a long time, but I only started making them recently, using Bon Appétit’s amazing recipe (guaranteed success bake after bake after bake).
On a recent occasion, I couldn’t help myself and I had to add some leftover berries & plums to the cheesecake mix, which lightened its overall color with superb copper hues. I served the cheesecake with Tannenbaum’s Cranberry, Orange Peel & Allspice Botanical Hot Sauce as a topping, whose aromatic blend of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper provided brightness and a fragrant glow of goodness, beautifully complementing the heat.
Perfect sauces this season and beyond, and amazing holiday gifts!
- Hot Crispy Oil
Nothing makes me happier on long busy days than a one-pot meal – and when the opportunity presents itself for me to elevate said meals, that’s even better 🙂 Enter Hot Crispy Oil, a Rachael Ray favorite, and a social media sensation!
Hot Crispy Oil was founded by Albany-based restaurateur John Trimble and his girlfriend Maura Kelly, who started tinkering with the Hot Crispy Oil recipe in March 2020, around the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. After closing his family’s 40-year-old Albany restaurant La Serre, Trimble launched Hot Crispy Oil to a resounding success, which he attributes to the versatility of the product: Customers use it on everything from pizza to pasta, chicken wings, eggs and hot dogs. Trimble says his oil is different than other products on the market most notably due to its reliance on fresh ingredients, which are fried and later bottled in the very oil in which they were steeped.
I have had great success adding Hot Crispy Oil to my simple one-pot meals, such as the vegan potato salad below. I make this dish often because it really is hassle-free:
✅️ Boil some baby potatoes
✅️ Discard the water (or store it for other dishes or for drinking)
✅️ Throw some chopped veggies into the pot
✅️Add a vinaigrette or just evoo
✅️ Done ✔️
On this occasion, I used Hot Crispy Oil olive oil infused with freshly fried garlic, shallots, and a proprietary blend of chili peppers, whose fabulous, spicy complexity complemented the veggies to perfection. Satisfying, simple, absolutely scrumptious:
Hot Crispy Oil currently have a wide range of gift sets available for purchase on their website, with great discounts and free shipping. Take your pick – I recommend them wholeheartedly 🙂
I recently published a post about my collaboration with Ponti, the beloved brand of authentic balsamic vinegar of Modena whose history goes back in time 9 generations, to 1787.
I had an amazing time experimenting with Ponti’s superb products, making a variety of dishes, both sweet and savory. On the savory side, tomato soup with Ponti has been on repeat 🙂 This year we have had a bumper crop of tomatoes, which I have been using in soups and salads, freezing the leftovers for the winter.
On the dessert side, I have been making a lot of fruit salads. The creamy sweetness of Ponti’s organic glaze, made out of balsamic vinegar of Modena P.G.I. (Protected Geographical Indication) and cooked grape must, enriched the satisfying freshness of the thirst-quenching fruits, lingering on the palate. Amazing days require nothing more, just this subtle hint of magical sweetness 🙂
As emphasized in my recent interview with Ponti, they were the first vinegar company in the world to apply for B Corp status, and they are dedicated to new strategies for minimizing energy and raw materials consumption, as well as waste production. They blow all of their squeezable glaze bottles onsite to reduce transportation, fuel consumption, and their carbon footprint, and they have removed the plastic covering on their glazes and moved to a Tamper-evident tab, resulting in significant saving of plastic waste.
Ponti’s superb products are available at a variety of retailers, and they are perfect for gift giving. Give the gift of excellence this holiday season – starting with a gift to yourself, why not? 🙂
- Naked Almond
The Naked Nutrition story starts in 2014, when former cross country and track All-American Stephen Zieminski “noticed many supplements included numerous ingredients of little nutritional value. People trying to live a healthy lifestyle aided by supplements were being marketed health, but sold something else.” Zieminski founded Naked Nutrition, starting with five single ingredient supplements, including the best-selling Naked Whey from grass-fed Northern California and Idaho cows, and Naked Pea from raw yellow peas grown in the USA and Canada. “No artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners and no mixing agents. You control the flavor and your nutrition by what you choose to add to Naked proteins and supplements.”
Naked Nutrition have a new product out, Naked Almond, a certified vegan powder made exclusively from whole almonds grown on California farms. Naked Almond is mechanically pressed, without the use of additives or solvents, to remove oil and fat to create a powder that is over 55% protein. Certified vegan and certified gluten-free, with no added sugar or salt, and soy, dairy, and preservative free, this product undertakes rigorous independent third-party testing for heavy metals, and can be used by adding one scoop to 6 -10 oz of your favorite beverage, smoothie, or shake.
You can dress up your Naked Almond with other Naked Nutrition products to create the ultimate almond protein shake, and you can even bake with Naked Almond! Naked Nutrition have an amazing variety of recipes on their website, so finding one was a matter of seconds, literally. The Naked Almond product page includes a downloadable free guide with recipes, such as the protein chocolate pudding showcased below.
The combination of high quality almond powder and chocolate made for a decadent and absolutely scrumptious dessert, irresistible, superb on the palate, a joy to the senses. So creamy and dreamy, mmm…
I highly recommend Naked Nutrition Almond, and I look forward to continuing using Naked Nutrition products in the future 🙂
- Dignity Coconuts
What sets Dignity Coconuts apart from other manufacturers is the proprietary method for extracting coconut oil. The raw centrifuge method spins out the oil, resulting in a light taste and smell. This gentle way to obtain the oil creates the best coconut oil on earth – a product Dignity Coconuts can be proud to sell to the global market.
Moreover, Dignity Coconuts is dedicated to creating a positive social impact in the coconut industry by providing fair wages and career opportunities, empowering locals, and combating financial insecurity in the region. As emphasized in their presentation, Dignity Coconuts “is not only known for its high-quality offerings, but also for its transformative impact on vulnerable communities. Their holistic business model goes beyond economic empowerment as they actively work to eradicate modern-day slavery in the coconut industry, aiming for a more ethical and sustainable future.”
Dignity Coconuts’ highly-anticipated holiday 2023 bundle sale offers a 20% discount on a selection of curated beauty and baking bundles: Beauty Bundle (Body Dry Brush, 4oz. jar of Raw Coconut Oil, 3-pack All-Natural Lip Balm); Baker Bundle (4-pack of Award Winning Raw Coconut Oil); The Enthusiast Bundle (15oz. jar of Raw Coconut Oil, 4oz. jar, 5-pack All-Natural Lip Balm); Stocking Stuffer (5 of the 3-pack All-Natural Lip Balm) – to name a few. You can check them all out on the Dignity Coconuts website here.
Wonderful products, highly recommended 🙂