With Thanksgiving and the holiday season upon us, cooking and cookbooks came to mind as a theme as I began mulling over topics for this week’s episode of the Shine Springs Farm Shinecast.
I tend to use cookbooks more for inspiration than actual cooking guidance. Here are some of my favorites:
Belle Chevre: Tasia’s Table
My most recent cookbook purchase is Tasia’s Table: Cooking With the Artisan Cheesemaker at Belle Chevre. Not only do you get wonderful recipes, but you also get to learn more about how Tasia returned to her Alabama roots to learn artisan cheesemaking at Belle Chevre, an award-winning, artisan cheese-making enterprise in rural north Alabama.
The photos are gorgeous, the recipes look amazing and doable for the average home cook. What I enjoyed most, in my first time around Tasia’s Table, are the stories and the inspiration I found in Tasia’s story. I haven’t yet prepared anything from the cookbook because I left it at the farm after purchasing it in the Shoals at one of Tasia’s signings.
Every serious Southern cook will own a copy of Frank Stitt’s Southern Table. Most serious cooks outside the South will, as well. Frank is a world-renowned chef and owner of Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham. Inspired and supported by Alice Waters, Frank is one of the pioneers of the farm-to-table restaurant movement. Frank’s training include time with Richard Olney.
Highlands Bar and Grill is a three-time Beard finalist for Outstanding Restaurant (2011, 2010 and 2009). Frank was the Beard Award’s Outstanding Southern Chef in 2001 and a finalist for Outstanding Chef in 2008.
As with Tasia’s Table, I love Frank Stitt’s Southern Table as much for the stories and photos as the recipes. In addition to experiencing how a farm-to-table chef sources the fresh produce, fish and meats that will determine the weekly or daily menu, you learn about the remarkable folks at Highlands, like Verba Ford.
For more information about Frank Stitt’s food heritage, check out this biographical profile in the Southern Foodways Alliance Hall of Fame.
I discovered Jamie Oliver in his days as The Naked Chef. I was cooking a lot at the time, but I hadn’t purchased any cookbooks in years. Jamie’s no-nonsense approach to real food and cooking real food in a simple fashion so that the food speaks for itself really struck a chord with me.
This may be the best starter cookbook for a real food fan The Naked Chef.
I’ve followed Jamie’s progression over the past decade and I admire and support his Food Revolution. I’m convinced that the standard American diet built on highly-processed foods is one of the three main reasons we have a healthcare crisis in the United States.
Jamie’s Food Revolution cookbooks, like Jamie’s Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals
are great resources for the time-pressed cook who wants to serve healthy meals for a finicky family.
Jamie always focuses on preparing real food, tastefully and simply. I think his cookbooks are especially useful for anyone who is afraid of cooking or who thinks he/she can’t cook because “it’s hard.”
I love Julia Child, but most of us don’t aspire to cook like Julia Child. We just want tasty, real food.
Jamie Oliver can definitely get you started on the road to culinary success and healthy, delicious food made simple.
Cooking With Cast Iron
In 2003, I asked for a cast iron Dutch oven for Christmas. My parents came through and gave me a wonderful Lodge cast iron Dutch oven. I already knew how to cook in an iron skillet—I AM Southern, after all—but I wanted something to give me more ideas, especially for the Dutch oven, so I went searching and found this fairly obscure gem: A Skillet Full of Traditional Southern Lodge Cast Iron Recipes & Memories.
Lovely and full of great recipes for newbies and cast iron cooking pros.
Not sure whether this post by Agrigirl triggered my thinking, but it’s worth sharing here. I look forward to purchasing and reading A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table. Agrigirl also shares links to a couple of her favorite food blogs.
Another possible trigger was this recent post on Food Revival about another friend’s fixation on The Barefoot Contessa cookbooks.
What are your favorite cookbooks? I’d love to hear your recommendations.
All of the links to books in this post are affiliate links. I didn’t receive any compensation for writing this post, but if you purchase one or more of these books through the link on this page, I’ll receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you). The commission helps to offset the cost of web hosting, domain registration and related expenses (like purchasing new cookbooks!).