The holiday season is officially underway, so it’s time to start thinking about gifts for those foodies on your list. I offer you three suggestions: a cookbook, a place to order award-winning smoked tenderloin and cooking classes for kicking off a healthy new year.

The cookbook is “Perini Ranch Steakhouse: Stories and Recipes for Real Texas Food,” by Lisa and Tom Perini, owners of the steakhouse in Buffalo Gap, Texas. Cheryl Alters Jamison, four-time winner of the James Beard Award for her own cookbooks, tested recipes and contributed to writing and editing their book. The result is a cookbook that lets you enjoy a ranch-style homemade meal in your own home.

Despite the steakhouse-sounding theme, beef recipes are the smallest section of the cookbook.

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“Of the 176 recipes in the book, only 11 are for beef steak,” Jamison said at a recent book signing at the Santa Fe School of Cooking. “Tom does not do much to steaks other than salt and pepper. So this is a book mostly about side dishes, salads and other great Texas food.”

Perini opened Perini Ranch Steakhouse in a converted barn in Buffalo Gap in 1983. The town’s population was small then and still is, with 463 residents counted in 2019.

“I offered simple ranch food,” he writes in his cookbook. “Mesquite grilled or smoked beef, burger, ribs and quail. I also incorporated classic cowboy cooking with some Dutch oven-baked biscuits and beans. I served unique side dishes, no French fries or baked potatoes.”

Word spread about this little eatery in the middle-of-nowhere Texas — it’s about a three-hour drive west of Dallas-Fort Worth and a dozen miles south of Abilene. After Perini’s mesquite-smoked peppered beef was selected by The New York Times in 1995 as the year’s “best mail-order holiday gift,” his business took off. He cooked for the James Beard House and for George W. Bush, when he was Texas governor and then president.

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Which brings us to our second gift idea. At the book signing, Jamison offered samples of Perini’s Mesquite Smoked Peppered Beef Tenderloin, cooked to a perfect medium-rare and absolutely delicious. You can buy these tenderloins in around 2½-pound packages, which ship overnight, along with his cookbook, at

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Finally, for a completely sensual and flavor-packed cooking experience, sign up for one of the many Asian classes taught by Anne Doan at The French Kitchen Culinary Center. Vietnamese-born Doan teaches Thai, Chinese and, of course, Vietnamese cooking, as well as classes on making bento, Asian noodles, banh mi and — my favorite — Vietnamese crepes.

These crepes — a popular street snack in Vietnam — are a totally new experience, nothing like French crepes. Rice flour and the absence of eggs create a crepe with two contrasting textures. One side of the crepe (the pan side) is super crunchy, while the other side is pillowy soft.

Wrapped inside the crepes are fresh mint, cilantro, Thai basil, a prawn and pork filling, and sweet-sour-spicy-hot nuoc cham (fish sauce). With its aromas, flavors and textures, you get treated to an amazing taste sensation that you’re not going to forget anytime soon. And they’re healthy!

Visit for a complete list of Doan’s classes and more.

Contact the writer: 636-0271

contact the writer: 636-0271.

Food editor

Food writer for features life section and columnist for Go! Entertainment - Table Talk column

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