A To Gourmet Inspiring Gifts

Birthdays, bridal season – whatever the occasion, there’s no need to feel stumped about what to give friends or relatives who are celebrating special events. The popularity of online gift registries and the growing availability of professional-quality products leaves the guess work out of gift giving these days.

Cookware remains at the top of wish lists nationally, whether the individuals are just starting out or already accomplished cooks in the kitchen. For any occasion, the Cookware Manufacturers Association offers the following tips to help guide your gift search:

1. Consider the person who’ll use the cookware. Ask about their cooking habits and skills.

2. Select quality, heavy-gauge cookware durable enough for everyday use.

3. If a full set is out of your price range, opt for purchasing a single item. Usually a large skillet or cooking pot is an appreciated, useful choice.

Before you buy, learn about the differences in types of cookware, including:

* Aluminum provides excellent heat transfer, is lightweight, easy to clean and non-stick coatings are available. Aluminum is good for everyday cooking with all foods, and is great for low-oil/butter recipes.

* Cast iron can last a lifetime, is great for seasoned cooking yet can be heavy. For traditional cooks who enjoy bringing out robust flavors in foods, cast iron is a top choice. Traditional seasoning is now applied before purchase in most cast iron cookware.

* Copper is an excellent heat conductor. Visually attractive, it is for the designer cook who enjoys quality and the art of cooking, but keep in mind, it does require polishing.

* Stainless steel is durable and provides excellent heat transfer and low maintenance. It also offers a bright surface. Stainless is great for talented and aspiring chefs who take cooking and taste seriously. Choose from pans with multi-layers or a conductive bottom for best results.

* Porcelain on steel is durable and provides even heating, especially in ovens. This is the most popular type of roaster for meats and oven-roasting recipes.

Nicholas Phillips