Compact kitchen gifts for new cooks

This time of year brings many transitions, especially weddings and graduations, that can involve outfitting a kitchen.

Celebrating the occasion with a gift for the new kitchen is always appreciated, especially if it comes with some recipes and tips on how to use it.

Since those first kitchens often are small, it’s helpful to choose a gift that’s compact and also useful for more than one thing.

Specialty items, no matter how beloved by an accomplished cook, likely are to be collecting dust (or worse, left in storage at Mom and Dad’s) when given to a new cook.

One basic pan that can do everything from fry an egg to baking a chicken is an essential.

A frittata pan, a skillet with two small loop handles instead of a long handle, has a flexibility beyond most skillets because it fits in smaller spaces than a long-handled skillet and is designed for both stovetop and oven use.

Its low, open shape also helps in using it on the table for serving.

Frittata pans are so versatile that Calphalon calls its model the “Everyday Pan.” The pans are available in lower-priced models from other companies as well. Department stores like Macy’s sell them for as little as $15.

One small appliance that earns the counter space it requires is a heavy-duty blender. There is a big overlap in functionality with blenders and food processors, but for newly established kitchens and younger cooks, blenders win because of their performance in blending frozen party drinks, dips and fruit smoothies.

Every kitchen needs a good cutting board. Bamboo cutting boards come in many sizes and shapes, and are favored by many cooks because of their natural anti-bacterial properties and durability.

For cooks beginning with a small kitchen, look for a bamboo cutting board with a hook or hole for hanging it out of the way.

A slow cooker isn’t quite as essential as the previously mentioned gifts, but many budding cooks love their slow cookers. As busy people fitting in new jobs, socializing, working out and other priorities, they delight in the slow cooker’s ability to have a healthy dinner ready at the end of the day.

For a beginning cook, a small slow cooker will be best. Two- and three-quart cookers produce meals in quantities appropriate for one- and two-person households. To make the gift even more likely to be used, include a slow cooker cookbook like “Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Recipes for Two: Recipes for the Small Slow Cooker,” by slow cooking star Beth Hensberger.

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