I am writing to you on behalf of my many foodie friends who may not know what to put on their Christmas list or, as is more likely the case, your elves (i.e. their significant others and family members) who don't know what to get them.
Here are a few suggestions I hope they will love.
When it comes to cookbooks many I know will devour a cookbook the same as they would a top-selling no-vel. Foodies have stacks of cookbooks like some women have romance novels.
There were a few cookbooks released this year that are sure to please. Most of these can be found at Sweet Gourmet in Tyler.
“Barefoot Contessa Foolproof” by Ina Garten:
In “Barefoot Contessa Foolproof,” the Food Network star takes easy a step further, sharing her secrets for pulling off deeply satisfying meals that are guaranteed to please.
For Garten, foolproof means more than just making a dish successfully; it's also about planning a menu, coordinating everything so it all gets to the table at the same time.
There are notes throughout detailing where a recipe can go wrong to keep you on track, plus tips for making recipes in advance. It's as though Ina is in the kitchen with you guiding you every step of the way.
“Ruhlman's Twenty” by Michael Ruhlman:
An acclaimed writer and classically-trained chef, Ruhlman has spent decades cooking, writing and working with the world's greatest chefs.
This book showcases the 20 essential ideas — from ingredients to techniques — that are guaranteed to make every cook more accomplished.
Whether cooking a multi-course meal, the juiciest roast chicken or just some really good scrambled eggs, Ruhlman explains the hows and whys of each concept and reinforces those discoveries through 100 recipes for everything from soups to desserts.
Cooks of all levels will revel in the knowledge this book brings to their kitchen.
“Bouchon Bakery” by Thomas Keller:
This book brings baked goods that are marvels of ingenuity and simplicity from Keller's famed Bouchon Bakery. Just like the bakery, the cookbook showcases Keller's American and French pastry fusion that bring together French classics and beloved favorites that are the cornerstone flavors of American childhood treats.
Co-author Sebastien Rouxel, executive pastry chef for the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, has spent years refining the recipes and techniques and offers lessons that ensure uniformity, a professional finish and brilliance that for many is unattainable in baking and pastry.
“Sweet on Texas” by Denise Gee:
Divided into four tasty Texas regions, this cookbook features more than 60 classic and new recipes for cakes, cookies, puddings, cobblers, ice cream, pies and pastries.
Sweet on Texas is a sugar-coated tour through the culinary wonderland of the Lone Star State. Author Denise Gee lives in Dallas and has also written for Southern Living and Better Homes & Gardens.
“Carnivore” by Michael Symon:
Celebrity chef Michael Symon—of Food Network's Iron Chef America and ABC's The Chew — shares his wealth of knowledge and more than 100 recipes for steaks, chops, wings and lesser-known cuts.
Symon is known for his big, charismatic personality, and it certainly shines through in this book and its recipes. He is a devoted carnivore whose restaurants and cuisine is meat-centric and his passion for all things beef, pork, poultry and game shine through in this expertly written and illustrated cookbook.
It's an informative primer on breeds, cuts and techniques that will educate at the meat counter and in the kitchen. Favorite recipes include Broiled Porterhouse with Garlic and Lemon, Ribs with Cleveland BBQ Sauce, Braised Chicken Thighs with Kale and Chiles, Lamb Moussaka and Bacon-Wrapped Rabbit Legs.
If a cookbook doesn't seem like the perfect gift, a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant, food store or cooking class would make many foodies very happy. Some of my favorite culinary shops are Sweet Gourmet in Tyler, Cook's Nook in Longview and O' Sweet Pea in Palestine. They are filled with wonderful gadgets, cookware, tools and books that any cook would love.
For the culinarian in training, how about a cooking class gift card from Sweet Gourmet, Sabor a Pasion, Let's Cook or O' Sweet Pea. Each place offers fun classes taught by trained chefs or cooking enthusiasts who love to share time-saving tips and delicious ideas for meals and entertaining.
For some foodies, shopping for kitchen or dining décor is almost as addictive as shoe shopping. Bowls, cake stands, platters, glassware, pitchers, carafes and more. When I enter any of these stores it's like I died and went to housewares heaven. Some of my favorite decorative items have come from The Writing Horse, Sweet Gourmet and FRESH in Tyler, Pandora's Box in Frankston, Barron's in Longview, Charles Dickens Fine Jewelry & Gifts and O' Sweet Pea in Palestine.
If you're hoping to reap some of the tasty rewards from a food gift a restaurant gift card is the best idea – just be sure to drop hints about who they should dine with when cashing in on the chef-inspired gift. New to try in Tyler – Cork and ZaZa's, but classic favorites like Bernard's, Stanley's Pit Barbecue or Soju never disappoint. Outside Tyler, if you want to impress with a good steak there's Four Winds in Wills Point, Kiepersol in Bullard or Sabor a Pasion in Palestine.
Another recent discovery was Jacksonville Joe's, The Cookie Company and Addie's Pantry in Jacksonville, along with some traditional favorites like The Butcher Shop in Longview and Oxbow Pies in Palestine.
Get creative with your gift cards by wrapping them up with a related kitchen tool or ingredient. For example, if you know your sweetie wants a piece of Le Creuset from Sweet Gourmet, give her the gift card with a Le Creuset spatula tied up with a big red bow and attached to the gift card envelope. Or with a cooking class gift card include a sauce or small signature gift from that particular store. O' Sweet Pea has beautiful ornaments that look like Christmas cookies and candy and Sabor a Pasion and Sweet Gourmet each have signature sauces.
By the way Santa, if you wouldn't mind, drop some hints to my family members. After writing this list for all of my foodie friends I realized it's filled with lots of things I would love too. Thanks so much for a yummy year in 2012 and cheers to more delicious days in 2013.
Christine Gardner can be contacted by emailing email@example.com or writing to 410 W. Erwin, Tyler, TX 75702. She can also be found on Facebook at Christine Gardner Tyler Paper Food and on Twitter and Pinterest @TylerFlavor.