(auto)Foodie Gifts

The holidays are nearly over but you may be wondering what last-second gift to get that foodie in your life. Or perhaps just want to stock up on good ideas. Well I guess I should have directed you BEFORE Christmas and Chanukah to the Future Mrs. Autofoodie for awesome foodie gift ideas. But of course I had no idea what I was in store for from her, so you might as well be surprised like I was and check out this all-star cast of delicious, mouthwatering and intriguing kitchen goodies. Now, I can brag about them a little and use them to make great dishes a lot.

Dried Shallots (4 oz) – adds a crispy burst of rich onionesque flavor when sprinkled over salads, pizza, soup, pasta.

White Truffle Oil (8.5 oz) – good for adding an earthy yet delicate richness to a salad dressing, dinner plate or even a crusty piece of bread.

Pure Spanish Saffron (2 grams) – luxury ingredient (stamen of crocus) known best for its unique flavor, bright red color and high price. Adds a much-needed, yet sometimes-dominating twist and hue to soups, rice pilafs, or even potatoes.

Herb De Provence (1.4 oz) – classic spice blend from the Provence region of France, consists of thyme, basil, oregano, rosemary and lavender if my memory is correct. Can be a seasoning base or garnish to hundreds of French dishes and sauces, perhaps none more simple or well-loved than in an omelet.

Horseradish Mustard (7 oz) – a staple for me, I like to collect different flavors (grape and walnut are a couple) and textures (i.e. whole grain). Of course amazing on sandwiches and in dipping applications, my favorite uses are actually as powerfully flavorful and savory (yet calorie-free) thickeners and richeners for many sauces, soups, vegetables and even meat dishes.

Balsamic Vinegar (17 oz) – another staple, I still can never get over how awesome of an ingredient it is. From dressings to drizzles to marinades to dips, there are probably 1000 delicious ways to use balsamic, which is why I'm always running out. Rule of thumb: the thicker the better – and the less you need to get the job done. I have had a couple that may as well be a syrup or a jam, they were so thick (and intense).

Finest Quality Vanilla Bean Paste (4 oz) – this is a new one to me, it is vanilla beans thickened into a luxurious thicker version of vanilla extract. Great for baking – great for cooking? Who knows? I will have to test out a few new ideas and get back to you.

Gourmet Finishing Salts: Hawaiian Red Salt (0.75 oz), Himalayan Pink Salt (0.63 oz), Eurasian Black Salt (0.63 oz), Pure Ocean Salt (0.75 oz), Sel De Guarande (0.5 oz), Smoked Salt (0.75 oz) – Quite a menagerie! I haven't had a chance to try these, but this set may very well be the most fun and most intriguing of the whole set!

Stay tuned for my introductory uses of these ingredients. And also for my other foodie gifts – my new foodie toys!

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