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Allie Towers Rice

For most of us the yearly chore of shopping for holiday gifts has started in earnest. I know the older I get, the harder it is to come up with fresh ideas. So, Chef Jerry Pellegrino and I think we might perform a public service by giving our audience some buying tips for your favorite home cook.

First off, how about a few inexpensive stocking stuffers. One of the best additions to my kitchen arsenal has to be a digital food thermometer. Easy to use, easy to clean, and oh, so useful, your cooking will improve the moment you start to probe your roasts and steaks.

One gift my wife has already requested is so pedestrian, it's almost laughable... except you can't cook without them: a full and diverse set of wooden kitchen spoons. This is the perfect stocking stuffer, inexpensive but incredibly handy to have around. No one will return them.

If your loved one doesn't already have a pair, you need to get them heavy-duty kitchen shears. Talk about something you'll use all the time! I keep my kitchen shears right at hand because they go to work a dozen times a day, easily.

Keeping your best glassware sparkling clean concern of home cooks. One thing that can make the chore a lot easier are micorfiber polishing cloths. These clever little rags give your glassware a streak-free shine that brightens up your dinner table. Very reasonable, but just the thing.

For a few "under-the -tree" gift ideas we'll make these recommendations.

One gadget that I use frequently... and I'm mighty glad I have it... is a vacuum sealing machine. Let's say you just got back from the store with an armful of the latest bargains, let's say steaks. You obviously aren't going to eat them all in one go, so freeze 'em. What you do is pop the food into these special little plastic bags and

then use the vacuum sealing machine to suck the air out and close it with a burst of heat.

Fans of home-made pasta are familiar with the famous Atlas pasta making machine. With it you can crank out sheets of fresh pasta as well as a couple basic shapes. But Italian pasta comes in endless variety with all sorts of exotic, clever shapes. How do they do it? With a pasta extruder machine of course. These ingenious machines have traditionally cost thousands of dollars. But now Phillips has come up with a budget model that can make rigatoni, fettuccine, shells, tagliatelle and many more shapes. Here's the website https://www.usa.philips.com/c-e/ho/cooking/pasta-maker.html.

Once you've used a programmable pressure cooker you'll fall in love with it. Surprisingly affordable, these cookers are incredibly versatile. Slow you cooking down or speed it up, it doesn't matter. A good pressure cooker will adapt to your needs and your schedule. I can't think of a better way to make an all-day pot of stew or slow-cooked vegetarian chili.

Although a cast iron grill pan may not be a great substitute for outdoor grilling, it does have the benefit of imparting superb grill marks on your chops and chickens. Just heat it up and transfer your food to the grill pan and manipulate it to get professional looking grill marks that really make your food look irresistible. https://www.amazon.com/Lodge-Square-Pre-seasoned-Draining-Grilling/dp/B0000CF66W/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=lodge+grill+pan&qid=1638625220&sr=8-2

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.