2. Immersion blender: For a cook who makes red beans and rice or any kind of homemade sauces, an immersion blender makes life easier. Rather than transferring hot ingredients into a blender then back to the pot, the immersion blender, which comes in many sizes, goes directly into the pot.
3. Micro-plane grater: These come in a number of shapes and sizes and are so easy to use, you'll find yourself grating ingredients you'd never grated: carrots, garlic, celery, cucumber, apples, pears ... the list is as long as your creativity is deep. These also allow you to grate fresh Parmesan into the fine powder.
4. AeroPress Coffeemaker: Invented in 2005, this device steeps coffee for less than a minute before forcing it through a filter by pressing a plunger through a tube. The result is good, hot coffee super fast.
5. Instant-read thermometer: Once upon a time, food thermometers were expensive and hard to find. Digital instant-reads are accurate, quick and versatile.
6. Colanders/strainers: Notice the “s” on the end of that word. Assorted sizes of strainers make a chef happy. I have one large enough to contain a whole package of cooked pasta and one small enough to sift a half-cup of flour.
7. Pinch bowls: One of the biggest challenges for home cooks is mise en place, which is the practice of organizing all needed ingredients for a recipe before a burner is clicked on. Prep bowls are the perfect receptacle for small amounts of measured ingredients. How many should you buy? As many as you can afford.
8. Bottle opener: Openers come in many shapes and sizes. I recently tried one from Trudeau that's shaped like a bottle and collects the cap after it's popped off.
9. Wine gadgets: Anyone who attends or hosts wine tastings knows that memory gets erratic by evening's end. Some fun markers for guests to attach to their stemware is a heck of a lot better than comparing shades of lipstick on the rim. A good corkscrew or three is always appreciated, and for those poor souls incapable of finishing what they started, consider a wine vacuum sealer.
10. Salt and pepper mills: There is no substitute for freshly ground spices. Toss that tin of fine-ground black pepper and get your home cook a pepper grinder and accompanying salt grinder. Trudeau now makes a red pepper grinder to store your red pepper flakes in that's pretty handy, too. A spice grinder is also great, but be sure your favorite foodie is committed enough to his/her cooking to grind spices.
11. Ninja 3-in-1 Cooker: Somewhere between the electric skillet and the slow-cooker is this system that roasts, bakes and braises. It gets hot enough to brown meats before they go into braising mode. It steam roasts, which is great for seafood and vegetables.
12. Spoon rest: Every cook needs a resting place for utensils. Trudeau makes one that clips to the side of pots and pans.