The Manhattan [food] Project’s gift guide for 2017.

I’ve been going back and forth on posting a gift guide this year; even posting one in early December feels like it would be too late to do so as I know I’ve made most of my purchases by now, though I still have a few more to get. But I have so much fun making these guides each year (and once again, there are no affiliate links here), so I’m going to go for it anyway.

A pressure cooker or Instant Pot: Instant Pots seemingly blew up* over the internet this year, and for good reason—it’s an extremely versatile kitchen appliance. We received our pressure cooker for Christmas three years ago, and it’s utterly fantastic—it makes everything from fantastic pho to sticky ribs to perfectly tender pork shoulder, all usually within an hour or so. The Instant Pot is even more versatile, as it has specific functions for eggs and yogurt (and likely others), which eliminates the need for other specialty appliances. Naturally there are seemingly endless options for cookbooks catering to pressure cookers or Instant Pots out there, but I would strongly recommend Melissa Clark’s Dinner in an Instant specifically, as the recipes contained therein are actually interesting and diverse, and offers the opportunity to try your hand at making duck confit much faster than you otherwise would in an oven. That recipe is personally on our list of things to make; we might save it for our private Christmas celebration after we get back from PA and do our own gift exchange.

The Hygge Life, by Gunnar Karl Gislason and Jody Eddy: a few years ago I talked about how I wanted to embrace the Scandinavian notion of hygge during the winter months as a way to counteract feeling crappy during the darkness, and truthfully I haven’t been that good about it. I learned about this book from Food and Wine and placed it on my Amazon wishlist ages ago, and I decided to get it now in order to start getting inspiration from it as soon as possible. Some of the ideas are a little silly—I don’t think anyone needs a book to remind them to watch movies or play games or the like—but others, like making your own bath salts and trying different combinations of toppings for freshly-popped popcorn are much more inspired. The real appeal of this book lies in the recipes in general: it’s a nice mix of homey comfort foods and lighter fare, and provides an accessible introduction into Scandinavian cuisine.

Faux fur throw: Related to the above, I am personally hoping for one of these this year to help amplify the coziness factor in our living room. The appeal should be self-evident.

Subscription to Cherry Bombe magazine: now that Lucky Peach is with us no more (sniff), it’s more important than ever to support independent voices in food. Cherry Bombe does that with aplomb twice a year, with a decided focus on women’s voices in the food world. Given everything that’s transpired over the last couple of months alone when it comes to the imbalance of power between men and women across so many industries, it’s feels extremely right to amplify women’s voices as we head into 2018.

And now, it’s time to share some of my favorite cookbooks that deserve a spot on your shelves this holiday season:

  • Prune by Gabrielle Hamilton: if you have Netflix, do yourself a favor and watch the first half of season four of The Mind of a Chef right away if you haven’t already. You will be entranced by Gabrielle Hamilton as she shows you exactly what running a small restaurant in New York City entails, all while making some incredible food. Everything she makes on the show is found in the cookbook bearing the name of her restaurant. It’s a little unique in that the book is meant to resemble a kitchen journal rather than a traditional cookbook, but that simply makes it a little easier to multiple the recipes to feed a crowd.
  • French Country Cooking by Mimi Thorisson: this is the second book from Mimi Thorisson, and frankly I find it to be superior to her first (which I also really enjoy, for the record). The recipes here are simply a little more unexpected, whether it’s dry-roasting mushrooms and eating them with a raw egg yolk to a chicken that’s topped with lots of fresh tarragon. It’s still filled with lots of gorgeous pictures of her home, her children, and of herself, but there’s more restraint at work here, with the focus fixed primarily on the food.
  • The Cherry Bombe Cookbook: from the editors of the aforementioned Cherry Bombe magazine comes their first cookbook. I’ve written about our experiences with it so far, but I’ve used it even more than that post would suggest. The recipes range from easy weeknight dishes to ones perfect for entertaining, all featuring interesting flavor combinations that reflect the vast array of women who contributed to the book.
  • Zahav by Michael Solomonov: this cookbook gave us so much inspiration over the summer, getting us through the hottest evenings with recipes that were light without sacrificing flavor. If you can’t make it to Philly to try the restaurant for yourself, this serves as the next best option, and if nothing else it will make you want to book a trip to the City of Brotherly Love to try the restaurant as soon as possible.

Happy shopping!

*yes, I know it’s a bad pun.

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