Books are a great Christmas gift. I love local bookstores, like Alabama Booksmith and Little Professor, and I also love shopping online. Here are a few suggestions for the food lovers on your gift list (click on the titles to read more at Amazon.com):
Frank Stitt's Bottega Favorita: A Southern Chef's Love Affair with Italian Food: "In this companion to his first, best-selling cookbook, the beloved Southern chef Frank Stitt travels to Italy and brings the best of Mediterranean cuisine back home. To Stitt's mind, the two regions—Italy and the American South—share commonalities. Both native cuisines have a tradition of turning humble ingredients—ground corn, bitter greens, cured pork, the daily catch—into poetry on the plate. And as the chef points out in his lively introduction to the book, this is elemental cooking based on the purity and simplicity of the freshest and finest ingredients.
Commander's Wild Side: Bold Flavors for Fresh Ingredients from the Great Outdoors: "More than one hundred new recipes for fare straight from America's bayous, streams, mountains, and back country, as well as dozens of stunning photographs. With thrilling flavors for any palate, executive chef Tory McPhail has recipes for everything from Juniper Berry-Grilled Elk, Rabbit and Goat Cheese Turnovers, and Roasted Quail with Bourbon-Bacon Stuffing to Jamaican Conch Callaloo, Marinated Crab Salad, and Pecan Butter-Basted Flounder with Creole Mustard Cream. Looking for something more traditional? Try the Lemon and Garlic Grilled Pork and the Roasted Turkey or any of the nongame substitutions—just in case the butcher is out of mountain lion."
Alabama's Historic Restaurants and Their Recipes: You'll find 50 restaurants that are housed in buildings at least 50 years old. In addition to a description of the restaurant's building, decor, and cuisine, each entry includes 2-3 recipes from that establishment.
Southern Cakes: Sweet and Irresistible Recipes for Everyday Celebrations: "Taste the chocolatey goodness of Mississippi Mud or marvel at the extravagant elegance of the Lady Baltimore and there will be no doubt that Southerners know how to bake a cake. Here are 65 recipes for some of the most delicious ever."
The Heritage of Southern Cooking: An Inspired Tour of Southern Cuisine Including Regional Specialties, Heirloom Favorites, and Original Dishes. "One of the South's foremost cooking authorities assembles more than 150 down-home dishes inspired by the gracious traditions, regional cooking techniques, and mouthwatering ingredients of her Southern heritage. From Hearty Chicken and Ham Gumbo to Kentucky Spiced Beef, from Old-Fashioned Greens with Bacon to New Orleans Praline Ice Cream, the recipes in this lusciously illustrated, easy-to-use cookbook are rich with nostalgia and inspired by their blend of hearty Southern flavors and textures."
The Glory of Southern Cooking: "James Villas, the former food and wine editor of Town & Country and the author of 12 cookbooks, sees Southern cookery as the only legitimate cuisine in this county, being on the same level with French and Italian home cooking. His collection spans the entirety of the Southern states, including recipes for such classics as fried chicken, pork barbecue, and grits and greens, and lesser known dishes such as Baked Oysters with Mustard Greens and Bacon, Nashville Turnip Greens with Ham Hock, and Memphis Casserole Cheese Bread."
From Generation To Generation: A Temple Emanu-El Cookbook, Birmingham, Alabama: "This 208-page hardbound cookbook contains over 250 well-loved family recipes as well as contemporary recipes for today's kitchen that are easy to prepare and are full of flavor. Included are architectural renderings of our historic Birmingham, Alabama building and treasured family photographs of congregational families then and now."