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Creole/Cajun/Southern cookbooks rec

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Hi! I am planning to get some creole, cajun and southern cookbooks, and will like some recommendations on this. I have been to bookshops and was astounded by the choice. Generally, I prefer cookbooks that are made more for the homecooks, and therefore can be replicated easily at home, gives a good introduction on what is required for the particular cuisine, as well as some history and culture behind the cuisine. I have seen Emeril's and Paul Prudhomme's cookbooks, but is a bit hesitant about them, as I'm not sure how practical they are for the homecook. I have also seen James Villas' book on his mother's southern recipes as well as Edna Lewis's book. Can anyone also comment on these two?
Thanks.

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  1. Emeril's "Real and Rustic" is a good book for home cooks.

    Link: http://www.afrolicofmyown.com

    1. I like Bill Neal's Southern Cooking.

      1. I think I have all of James Villas's "My Mother's ..." books. "... Southern Kitchen" I've had the longest and used the most. It's a good book but not one of my favorites. I've had Edna Lewis's new book only a short time but have had her two earlier books for years, and I think extremely highly of them. "Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen," his first book, is excellent. I've had it since it first came out and have cooked from it many times. Another Louisiana cookbook I use often is Roy Guste's "The 100 Greatest Dishes of Louisiana Cookery." Back to southern, I think Camille Glenn's "The Heritage of Southern Cooking" is a fine book, and I often refer to John Egerton's "Southern Food," which is not a cookbook but has recipes. John Martin Taylor's first book, the one on South Carolina lowcountry cooking is a favorite, but I must disclose that I grew up there. For the same reason I'm fond of "Charleston Receipts." These are my personal favorites. I can name more titles that I think are worth having if you want.

        Jim

        3 Replies
        1. re: Jim Washburn

          I endorse the first Prudhomme cookbook. I had cooked very little prior to trying recipes from his book and did fine with it. A couple cautions- consider cutting back on the salt as he has a very heavy hand with it. Also the butter can be cut way back in some of the recipes with little loss of taste IMO. It is a great book for a home cook. Very thorough, explicit instructions.

          1. re: Jim Washburn

            Yes - it is Charleston Receipts, one of the best Gullah cuisine collections. I regret not buying that book when I was in Charleston. I need to get it.

            Another gem is the Lafayette Junior League's Talk About Good - a compendium of real cajun recipes. The recipes are simple...I like how the women who post them use their husband's name: like Mrs. Jack Smith. Lafayette is the epicenter of Cajun country. You can explore the differences between Southwestern LA cooking and the "big city" cooking in new Orleans.

            I have an Emeril and a Lagasse, but for some reason, I never use them. It seems like they are more created to sell the book than anything, but I might need to go back and explore them further.

            Come to think of it, Charleston Recepts is a Junior League cookbook as well.

            1. re: Jim Washburn

              I also like Camille Glenn's book.

            2. The New Orleans Cookbook by Rima and Richard Collin is the best that I've come across.

              1. I have a dog-eared copy of a cookbook by Queen Ida (of the Bon Ton Zydeco Band). It's good, but don't know if it's available. Got it at one of her concerts.

                Also I have a Jr. League-type cookbook with spiral binding that's terrific, altho it calls for something called Trapper's Torrido Sauce which I haven't been able to locate. I even asked Calvin Trillin about it - he had no clue.

                I also have a book called The Duchess of Windsor's Favorite Southern Recipes, given to me as a joke gift. Weird to think of Wallace Simpson cooking up some jambalaya in Windsor Castle, eh?

                1 Reply
                1. re: oakjoan

                  Trappey's, now owned by B&G Foods, has whole pickled torrido peppers, which can be found on store shelves here in central Texas. I have a jar in my ice box. You can order them at the link below. I'm not aware of a torrido sauce.

                  Jim

                  Link: http://www.mybrandsinc.com/ShopOnline...

                2. I have been using Justin Wilson's cookbooks for over 20 years with excellent results, even in the post-divorce years with a one-butt kitchen and the pathetic utensils my first wife let me have.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Fydeaux

                    Was just thinking the other day how much I miss Justin and his red suspenders, giving his standard cooking directions, "now whatchu gotta did is..."

                    1. re: PolarBear

                      When I lived in Iowa in the 80s, they ran his show on Iowa Public television. I videotaped around 20 shows and still have them. They're on beta; one of these days I'm going to have to transfer them.

                  2. The old Junior League cookbooks are just the best; they remind me of my childhood. I love Talk About Good, Pirate's Pantry (Lake Charles), and the River Road Recipes series (Baton Rouge).

                    For more general southern cookbooks, my favorites are Southern Sideboards (Jackson, MS) and the old Memphis Women's Exchange cookbooks. The first one, from 1964, includes Shelby Foote's recipe for boiled brisket (!) along with the editorial comment, "No finer eating in the world." :) So it's a period piece, but I use some of the recipes regularly. These books are great fun to read, as well as cook with.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Zorra

                      New Orleans girl checking in. I'll second/third/whatever the Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen, and highly recommend the Junior League books that Zorra mentioned. I have to add the Plantation Cookbook (JL-New Orleans) to the list -- I call on it quite often for dinner parties and a number of standards.

                      I wish I could recommend a good southern cookbook -- I grew up looking over my mother's shoulder.

                      1. re: Zorra

                        I picked up a vintage Pirate's Pantry--it was a fun "read". (Have yet to try the recipes.)

                        1. re: Funwithfood

                          We love Chicken in the Limelight (which I've also seen in another cookbook) and another recipe in there for chicken with a Dijon mustard-based sauce.

                      2. For Cajun/Creole IMO you can't beat Paul Prudhomme's Louisianna Kitchen. It can at times be a little too advanced (i.e. he says to cook the roux over high heat - if you're cooking at home you can take your time) which leads me to another poster's rec. for Emeril's Real & Rustic - perfect tasty, not too complicated for someone not experienced in the kitchen.
                        For southern, my personal favorite (as another poster has also replied) is Bill Neal's Southern Cooking.

                        1. Agree with other posters about Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen, received a copy as an Anniversary gift in June 1984, it's seen a lot of use. Another published that same year that I use fairly often is Chef's Secrets from Great Restaurants in Louisiana, as the title indicates recipes from the hot spots of that time. Two others that haven't seen that much use (not sure why, need to revisit them) are the Great Chefs of Louisiana I and II, from the TV series.

                          Also just received from Amazon, Creole Nouvelle by Joseph Carey, billed as unique and cutting edge recipes from the new chefs in the Crescent City. Will be looking it over later this week.

                          1. Paul's Louisiana Kitchen, a must. The file gumbo and poorman's jambalaya always comes out great. I recently tried the BBQ shrimp (not quite like Pascale Manale's), very simple and just superb. Perfect single book, not too complicated and it is thorough. Tone down the heat, though, I usually go with 1/4 tsp when he calls for 1 of cayenne.

                            On the more casual side, the River Road Recipe books and the Junior League (the green and yellow cover) are good choices.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Rob64

                              Junior League of Lafayette, but the RR books are similiar enough that you could do with one or the other.