Some holiday gifts to help Santa in the kitchen

A mere week from today, the stockings will be down from where they were hung with care or propped under the tree, against furniture legs, in corners of the couch and chairs, or in any other designated spots (dictated by Santa), for each family member.

What, helpful(?) kitchen tools would you suggest Santa bring the cook (and the not so much a cook)?

I asked around and here are some answers I received. Some wouldn’t fit in a stocking. Some are very helpful. And some are just plain humorous.

Have a merry Christmas!

Marcelo Marino, executive chef at the Wine Country Inn:

■ A small utility knife — great for tomatoes, small fruits or little carvings.

■ Baker’s glove — saves hands!

■ Melon ball scoop for pommes noisette (potato balls sautéed in butter) and for fruits and vegetables.

■ Thermometer.

■ Silk pad — special non-stick baking pad. Example of use: Sprinkle some grated cheese on the pad, 2 minutes in the oven, and you have a cheese twirl.

Note: Check out Marino’s holiday appetizer recipe below.


Dan Kirby and Wayne Smith, chefs and instructors with the culinary program at the Western Colorado Community College:

■ Fish knife, chef knife, paring knife, serrated knife and knife sharpener. “A knife is only as good as its edge.”

■ Good synthetic, polyethylene chop board.

■ Cook’s pan with rounded corners, higher sides.

■ Sauté Pan, nonstick 10 inches.

■ Sauce pans, both 2 1/2 quarts and 1 1/2 quarts.



■ All sizes of glass containers with snap on lids, oven and microwave proof. They can go from refrigerator or freezer to microwave or oven and back in the refrigerator. They’re great for leftovers that seem to taste better and keep fresher.

■ Immersion blender.

■ Silicone spatulas, all sizes.



■ Pyrex 8-cup measuring bowl with red rubber bottom to keep it secure while mixing. The lid also means the bowl can be used multiple ways.


Gals at Culinary Corner:

■ Mandolins.

■ Microplane graters and shredders.

■ Whisks.

■ Fondue pot (They’re still making a comeback…)


Sue Kiser

■ Parchment paper — Entering the recent Palisade Olde Fashioned Christmas Gingerbread Contest taught Kiser the “joy of parchment paper.” She now uses leftover gingerbread supplies to bake holiday cookies. She rolls out refrigerated dough between parchment paper sheets, removes the top sheet, cuts out the cookies, pushes cookie cutter from underneath bottom sheet, flips onto cookie sheet.



■ Baby colander (hers came with a bouquet). People have tried to buy hers since small ones are hard to find. My research says the colander is a vintage 1983 Teleflora Strawberry Enamelware Colander Strainer.



■ Herb scissors, which work so well, she uses more fresh herbs.

■ Kitchen Aid Mixer.

■ Electric pot that heats water in seconds.

■ Knives that feel good in my hands. Chefs agree, feel is important.


Christopher Tomlinson, Daily Sentinel photographer and hard-core griller:

■ Grill mitts that handle hundreds of degrees heat.


Jean Talley:

■ Sharp paring knife (she could not function without one) for sectioning oranges for fruit salads, peeling and slicing apples, peaches, potatoes and vegetables.

■ Measuring cups with levels marked inside cup

■ Long handled, big spoons for stirring/ mixing.

■ Well-seasoned cast iron skillet for sautéing, frying, baking cornbread and making roux for gumbo. She’s from Louisiana.



■ Her grandma’s 60-year-old metal mixing spoon for the best cookies.


Amusing favorite kitchen tools:

■ Mare Charlesworth, manager Woven Designs — “My husband. I don’t cook.”

■ Lori Hendrickson, a non-cook: Paper towels to cover up the food I put in the microwave so it doesn’t splatter. Her paper towel choice? Anything on sale.

■ Julie — Her phone, to call take out!

■ Anonymous — Gloves for keeping hands warm hands while picking out frozen, ready-to-heat-and-eat foods at the market.


Shrimp Mattignon

From Marcelo Marino, executive chef at the Wine Country Inn

Serves 4.


16 shrimp, each peeled and deveined

1 cup polenta (corn grits)

1 teaspoon garlic paste

Olive oil, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

Old Bay Seasoning, to taste

1 pinch nutmeg

Fresh thyme, basil or tarragon

1 dash lemon juice

1 teaspoon capers

3 ounces white wine

1/2 pound butter


The shrimp should be deveined and peeled.

The best size is the 20–25 U counts. That means they are 20–25 shrimps per pound.

Marinate the shrimp in garlic paste, olive oil and Old Bay Seasoning. Set aside and keep refrigerated for 15 minutes.


To make a creamy polenta substitute the water or stock with milk. That will give you a more creamy and soft texture.

I like to flavor the polenta with herbs.

For one cup of polenta add 2 1/2 cups of milk.

To make the polenta:

Take a pot and add the milk. Add some herbs to your likening. My suggestion would be basil, thyme, tarragon or chervil.

Add some salt and pepper and one pinch of nutmeg. Bring the milk to simmer and add the cup of polenta. Make sure to stir constantly for about 2 minutes so there are no lumps.

Turn the heat off and let rest.

In other sauté pan, add some olive oil, salt and pepper and bring to heat. Take the shrimp from the bowl with the marinade and sauté them for 2 minutes. Carefully flambé with wine. Lower the heat and add the chunks of butter, capers, a dash of lemon juice and fresh herbs. Bring to a low boil, making sure the butter has melted and remove from heat.


Place a spoonful of polenta in the middle of a plate. Build 4 shrimp Napoleon style (layered) on top of the polenta.

Drizzle the sauce from the shrimp pan around the polenta. Voila!


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