Paul prudhomme's "Always Cooking". Anyone tried it?
Saw this when I was walking around NOLA (it was in the window of one of his restaurants). It is not even up on Amazon yet.
I did pick up "Mr. B's Bistro" which looks great. I also picked up "Frank Davis Makes Good groceries." I grabbed it on impulse and...sort of regret it. It requires you have his spice blends. i am sure I can substitute Paul Prudhomme's, but still - seems a little annoying.
Every chef in New Orleans tries to capitalize on his name by packaging a "spice blend" or even a selection of them. They're all basically the same and are probably even made in one of the same plants that packages them under private labels. The only difference in many cases is the price.
The most commonly used one in New Orleans and most of South Louisiana is Tony Chachere. Cheap and perfect. It comes in big and small canisters and it's probably in every kitchen in the city and bayous. The last one I bought was a 17 oz. canister for under $2 at a Sam's Club in Kenner outside of NOLA last year. You can find it in any grocery store.
A lot cheaper than Prudhomme's and I like it a lot better.
You really don't need any of those blends. My grandmothers never had them. If I have time, I don't use them. Why use onion or garlic "powder" when I can use fresh onion or garlic. I can add my own good quality thyme and adjust the amounts of salt, pepper and cayenne to suit myself.
There's nothing "magic" about any of the spice blends other than saving a little bit of time.
It is a cookbook.
Never made it to Mr. B's. Tried:
Palace Cafe: Excellent. Crab claw appetizer was amazing. Very nice turtle soup.
Cafe Degas: Really very good. The veal in parmesan crust was awesome. Very nice cheese plate.
Dante's: Very good, but not great. braised ribs had a slightly odd marinade flavor. Also, beans underneath were a touch undercooked.
Cammellia Cafe: Very good local place. Excellent burgers.
I was struck by how many places had their own cookbooks. Maybe due to the tourist nature of the place?
Chef Paul has a website where you can order his cookbooks, as well as through the PBS shows. I watch his Always Cooking Show on Sat. mornings and it is very interesting how he layers flavors, and I have learned so tricks just watching. I do agree with MakingSense that you don't need to buy into the spice blends, per se, unless you really don't know what kinds of seasonings to use. I have some Tony Chachere's in my cabinet, but I use it very sparingly. It did inspire me to make my own personal spice blend, though, because I thought Tony's was too salty. I would be so curious to get that cookbook, and see if it is just recipes or if he goes into his techniques as well.
smart chefs and cookbook people have tried for years to capitalize on spice blends and rubs offering their own recipes. chef paul was one of the first to offer supplies from his own company, however in his first cook book Louisiana cooking all of the spice blends were offered in the recipes. the problem for all of us who like to follow this style of cooking is that using these blends is a very expensive proposition, in the super market a small container of pepper works out to be over a hundred dollars a pound. in each blend salt and sugar play an important roll. learn to make your own blends based on what you like as a flavor as the bases. small quantities such as a pinch or a eight of a teaspoon rarely make a contribution to the taste of the dish. if i cook the same fried chicken over time i have reduced the small ingredients that no one notices or can identify and add more important things such as dried garlic or dried onions etc which tend to make the dish taste better. remember that no Cajun or for that matter, most of our parents or grandparents had access to all of these ingredients when most of these dishes were developed.
I find that Chef Paul has never received credit for giving us good information on the foundation of good home cooking and that once you have mastered these techniques you will very rarely have trouble cooking food that will make you feel good and good for you. always cooking is a way to introduce people to his spice blends and very good marketing.