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Flavorful Fridays: Christmas Gift-Giving Guide II

December 11, 2009

With work, Christmas shopping, gift-making, and cookie baking for the neighbors (more on this to come next week!), there hasn’t been time for much else. It seems the closer Christmas gets, the faster the hours go. Suddenly, I’m looking at a half finished quilt, a stack of cookies that need to go on a plate and be delivered next door, and a hungry husband poking around the refrigerator for something to hold him over until I can make dinner. Where does my day go?

If your life is anything like mine (and it probably is crazier if you have children in the mix), then let me help take a load off. I’m sorry, I cannot finish your homemade gifts (I have my own to finish!). And I can’t make your family dinner, although, please look at my Recipes page if you need ideas for what to make. And although I cannot do your Christmas shopping for you, I can help you with some gift ideas. Last week, I posted some smaller gift ideas for the foodie/chef in your life. I have a few more ideas for you this week. I hope this helps, and remember to take time to relax and enjoy the season. If the neighbors get their cookies next week instead of this week, I think they’ll survive.

No Italian American kitchen is complete without a pasta machine. Housewives all over Italy shouted for joy when this lovely little contraption made its first appearance. It took the hours and muscles out of rolling the pasta dough for meals (seriously, my Nonna did this every day growing up). Suddenly, they could get paper thin, delicate pasta without the intense manual labor. Imperia is a good Italian manufacturer of pasta machines. You can find them at William-Sonoma.

You can even find motors to attach to your pasta machine instead of cranking the machine yourself. My Nonna is an advocate of the motor, but I think this is because it makes it easier for her to roll the pasta herself while using both hands to guide the pasta through.

If you have never had a pizzelle, you are missing out on one of the sweetest Italian treats. These crisp, crumbly cookies are made in what looks to be a thin waffle iron. These delicate treats will impress any guest or hostess–whether they are vanilla or chocolate. They are delicious served alone, with ice cream, berries, or (my favorite) nutella. These pizzelle machines are well worth their price and the extra space needed to store it in your kitchen cabinets. Chef’sChoice seems to be one of the only brands selling pizzelle makers, and you can find them at Sur la Table. If you already have a pizzelle maker, make a batch of vanilla pizzelle. Wrap them up with pretty Christmas cellophane and present them as a hostess gift with nutella as your next Christmas party (I would show you a picture of this, but the pizzelle maker is currently on my wish list for this Christmas).

Basil-flavored olive oil

For the perfect hostess gift, assemble a basket of delicious treats. You can go sweet or savory with this one, depending on your hostesses preferences. Go to A.G. Ferrari or another Italian food specialty store or deli. Find special pastas, flavored olive oil and balsamic vinegars, sauces, and a bottle of wine to put together in the basket–the perfect recipe for a special dinner. Or find Italian chocolates, biscotti, and other sweets to create the perfect sweet retreat in a basket. The possibilities are endless.

You can always give a bottle of flavored olive oil or balsamic vinegar as a hostess gift on its own. A bottle of limoncello is also a great idea (I only recommend this if you know that they like lemon and liquor–otherwise, they will not appreciate this gift as limoncello can be quite strong).

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