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Feb 8, 2008 07:16 AM

Your Opinion: Best Local Cookbooks [Moved from New Orleans board]

The only local cookbook I've tried was Galatoire's and I really liked it. I usually try a recipe once to get a feel for the dish then just improvise from there. Any suggestions for good local cookbooks? I'd like both Cajun and Creole but if there's one that does a good job of covering both, that'd be even better! Your suggestions please...

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  1. Paul Prudhomme is most famous for Cajun cooking. I have 3 of his cookbooks and love them all. However, I find that his first book, "Louisiana Kitchen," is the one I have used more than the others.

    1. you can't go wrong with river road recipes. volumes 1 and 2 are both great, but i think i prefer volume 2, which was published in 1994. the first was published in the 50s, i believe. both are available from amazon and places like that.

      1. My favorite Creole/New Orleans cookbook is New Orleans Cookbook by Richard Collin.
        Be aware that you will need to adjust the salt to your own tastes.

        Another good cookbook is Tom Fitzmorris's New Orleans Food: More than 225 of the City's Best Recipes to Cook at Home.

        Both are available through Amazon

        4 Replies
        1. re: speyerer

          Absolutely agree with Speyerer about the Collins and Fitzmorris cookbooks. Both offer authentic versions of the Real Deal. Plus Fitzmorris' book has some new dishes that have appeared in recent years that you might also enjoy while not losing the true sense of what made local food what it has always been renowned for.
          Another source I use frequently is from Chef John Folse that combines old Cajun and Creole home cooking recipes from friends and relatives, traditional Louisiana recipes and some fancier restaurant-style dishes from the days of his very successful Lafitte's Landing, sadly destroyed by fire some years ago.

          I see by your profile that you are in NOLA. Ask, ask, ask. Everyone in the City loves to talk about food and how they and everyone they know cooks everything. Frankly, most of us didn't even use cookbooks. We learned to cook from our relatives and friends, buying what was in season and "making food," as a good friend of mine calls it. Read Marcelle Bienvenue's column in the Times-Picayune and you'll understand. She goes to the market, buys what's there, cooks it and writes about it. Her book "Who's Your Mamma, Are you Catholic and Can You Make A Roux?" is a classic of local cuisine.

          1. re: MakingSense

            I have a soft spot in my heart for River Road I but that is a matter of family connections to it. regardless, it is a terrific _practical_ cookbook, not of the Jean-Georges or Alain Ducasse authentic "first you kill a steer" type. Also very good is the New Orleans Junior League Plantation Cookbook which has three landmark recipes: (1) Shrimp Creole, (2) Oyster Bienville, and (3) Grillades. The "Shadows on the Teche" cookbook is hard to beat and is fascnating in many ways but that is another story. A cajun friend gave me Alex Patout's first book, saying that it was a good substitute if he or his mother was not available to cook (and that is saying something). The recent Galatoire book is first rate---not everyhiting in it is offered daily at the restaurant, though. Last Xmas I got the Lake Charles Junior League cookbook (something like "marshes and Mansions"--I forget the exact title) which is a lush,lavish affair. I've not used it yet--most of the stuff is standard fare to locals--but the turtle soup recipe is promising. I judge local books by turtle soup...if you can make it in an hour the book is no good. The Lake Charles version seems to take about four hours (and two pages). Now THAT is turtle soup!

            Truth is, as any cookbook collector knows, it's all variations. Collecting cookbooks is a pleasant mania for some of us.

            1. re: hazelhurst

              Looks like you're reading off my kitchen bookshelf, hazelhurst. That old New Orleans JL Plantation Cookbook is a standby and a good guide for elegant entertaining Creole style. I think that the best food in both the city and country has always been in private homes which may explain why the Junior League offerings are so good. I grew up with many of the kids of families who owned restaurants and ate in their homes. The foods was different and every bit as good if not better than the restaurants.

              Another favorite of mine is Roy Guste, Jr.'s The 100 Greatest Dishes of Louisiana Cookery, in which he translates the great recipes for home cooks using four saucepans and a skillet. Anybody can make the great classics! (He's a former proprietor of Antoine's and a descendant of the family that founded it in 1840.)

              1. re: hazelhurst

                "River Roads Recipes" is our go-to cookbook from the region. We have dozens of good ones, including 3 copies of Commander's Palace, autographed by three of their past-chefs. Still RRR is the one with all of the dog-ears and the annotations.


          2. I have used over 68 recipes from the Collins' "New Orleans Cookbook" and given it as a gift many times. Best Cajun/Creole cookbook ever.

            1. Wow, slightly overwhelming :) I knew I'd be getting into trouble asking this question though! Like I said, I like to try a recipe once then make it my own. The most important thing about a book though, is I usually send it off to other family members and friends who don't have the pleasure of dining here in Nola. I guess I'll just have to start my own library now...