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Good Southern and Creole Cookbooks?

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Can anyone recommend a few great cookbooks that specialize in Southern Home Cooking? What about Creole? My fiancee is craving Louisiana dishes like red beans and rice, etouffe and gumbo. Also, looking for a great "Midwesty - Southern" cookbook that covers classics like Biscuits and Gravy, chicken fried steak, fried chicken, etc.

We live in Los Angeles, so this is hard to come by for us!

Thanks so much!

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  1. Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen is a good one. I have a number of Southern Cooks books. From what you are describing I would suggest you take a look at Alters and Jameson's Texas Cookbook or Spear's Cowboy in the Kitchen. Ronni Lundy's Shuckbeans, Stack Cakes and Honest Fried Chicken is also another good book for what you are looking for. You can probably find them at Amazon

    1. I've always loved Commander's Kitchen, and Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen, and Firey Foods that I Love. CK has a AMAZING recipe for barbecue shrimp, and there are so many other fantastic recipes, I wouldn't know where to begin. LK recipes are excellent too, but more Cajun, and VERY rich. Lots of recipes begin with "melt two sticks of butter in a large pot...". Firey-foods is a more modern take on PP's cuisine, and very interesting. There's a lot of fusion with other American cuisines. He explores use of multiple chili powders in different recipes. One of my favorite's is his "Hot & Sour Beef". The basic flavor is from a combination of three chili powders, lemon and lime zest, and cilantro. It's unreal!

      1. One of my favorite cookbooks is Kentucky Keepsakes by Elizabeth Ross, printed by McClanahan Publishing House, 1996. Phone 1-800-544-6959
        This book has pages of recipes for the same dish. You can study them and pick the one closest to your ability or taste buds.

        Shuck Beans, Stack Cakes, and Honest Fried Chicken by Ronni Lundy (anything by her) published in 1991 by Atlantic Monthly Press. Each recipe has a story, fun to read and to cook from.

        Finally no laughing, the White Trash Cooking (1986) and the Sinking Spells, Hot Flashes, Fits and Cravins books (1988) by Ernest Matthew Mickler, 10 Speed Press. Part humor part cookbook. There are some very good down home recipes in them.

        I don't know if these are still in book stores. But I am sure Ebay or Amazon would have them.

        1. I really like "Louisiana Real and Rustic" by Emeril Lagasse. It is his second cookbook from the late 90's. The "Shrimp Etouffee" is to die for, a shrimp in every bite, and made with common ingredients, that you should be able to find on the west coast. THe "Shrimp and Okra Gumbo" is made without a roux and is easy to prepare and quite tasty, it's even better on the second day.

          1. Hoppin' John's Lowcountry Cooking, Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking, and Bill Neal's Southern Cooking.

            1. I'm from southern Louisiana and grew up learning to cook with three books. Cotton Country Collection, River Road Recipes and River Road Recipes II.




              4 Replies
              1. re: Eatin in Woostah

                Listen to this guy - Eatin in Woostah. Talk about good!

                1. re: Eatin in Woostah

                  eatin, those are the *absolutest bestest* dang southern cookbooks.

                  btw, always check abebooks.com for cheap, out of print (and new, i guess) cookbooks.

                  i like paul prudhomme, and the times-picayune creole cookbook. good history and food culture in that one. *and* explains why file powder is not used in okra gumbos! (inside snark).

                  1. re: alkapal

                    Yes!! I'd like to third the River Road cookbooks- my absolute go-to sources for Louisiana cooking.

                    1. re: happybellynh

                      my river road cookbooks have *so* may sticky-noted pages!!!!

                2. Hello, I hope I don't threadjack badly here, but I was just about to ask a nearly identical question - that is, I was looking for a cajun/creole cookbook that had some fairly streamlined (i.e., quick & simple) recipes, and I wondered if any mentioned here fit that bill?

                  I can cook pretty well, and I've got no issue with the more intricate cajun cookbooks I seem to find at the big bookstores other than the fact that I just don't have the time to fuss over an etouffe (or whatever) for the time that they seem to require. Basically, I can whip up a pot of red beans & rice in not much more than the time it takes to chop everything and toss it in the pot (although, of course, it does taste better the next day), but I can't come close to recreating most of my favorite cajun/creole dishes in a short amount of time. Would any of the above suggestions help?

                  Thanks in advance!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: nickblesch

                    Get a pressure cooker. What takes hours can be accomplished in minutes with little fuss. You will be amazed.

                  2. I can't believe no one has mentioned the obvious suggestion for Southern cooking: Edna Lewis, either "The Taste of Country Cooking" or "The Gift of Southern Cooking". If you were only going to pick one Southern cookbook, I can't imagine it not being one of these two.

                    The most beautiful cookbook I own is Ntozake Shange's "If I Can Cook/You Know God Can" (yep, from the playwright, poet and novelist). It's part memoir, part oral history, part cookbook of the African Diaspora, so it includes the South, but isn't limited to it. It would be easily worth its paperback-novel price for just the writing or just the recipes.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: tmso

                      I did not mention Edna Lewis et.al. the op was asking about chicken fried steak
                      and that sort of thing. I have all of the others mentioned but did not think from what was being requested that they would fill the bill.

                      1. re: Candy

                        Okay, I could see how you could read the question that way. I read it as asking about three different things: Southern home cooking, Louisiana, and "Midwesty-Southern".

                    2. Jr league cookbooks are a good place to start

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: LaLa

                        One of my favorite cookbooks is the Dallas Dish, published by the Dallas Jr. League.

                        I also have another one "Taste of the Territory", published by the Bartlesville, OK service league.
                        The latter is more of a casserole/comfort food cookbook, while the Dallas dish has more modern recipes.

                      2. Diehard Southerner and Cajun here. These are the ones I return to over and over again:

                        COMMANDERS' KITCHEN - it is a little more upscale, but the recipes are accessible and incredible.

                        THE GIFT OF SOUTHERN COOKING - Edna Lewis and Scott Peterson
                        This is a terrific book that includes the best fried chicken recipe I have ever encountered.

                        THE LEE BROS SOUTHERN COOKBOOK/THE GLORY OF SOUTHERN COOKING- I have a hard time deciding which of these two I like best. Both are designed to be pretty all encompassing and both are wonderful.

                        THE PAT CONROY COOKBOOK: RECIPES OF MY LIFE - an absolutely terrific book filled with wonderful recipes and stories. I use it all the time.

                        As for Creole, the best place to find great recipes are Junior League cookbooks from LA and MISS. Here is a link to RIVER ROADS II, the cookbook my mom and dad used as a sort of bible. I still have the torn, stained copy, it is very dear to me and I also use it all the time:


                        1. i already seconded "cotton country collection" above, but i wanted to give everyone a heads up that amazon's affiliated booksellers have some good prices on used copies, many "like new" or in good-very good condition. http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listin...

                          from another thread, here is my commentary:
                          >>>""The Cotton Country Collection" from the Junior Charity League of Monroe, Louisiana. First printing 1972.

                          chock-a-block full of tasty home cookin' recipes -- many of which foods i grew up with in florida. i have so many sticky note tabs on this copy right here, it looks as if it is sprouting chunky orange hair! at random, here are a few recipes i have tagged to make: mustard pickle relish, baked deviled eggs for brunch, artichoke fritters, green rice, spinach souffle mold, stuffed squash, sweet potato surprise cake ( THE best cake in the world!), french coconut pie, cabbage casserole, pepper grits, pickled black eyed peas, orange rolls, hattie's corn bread, easy eggs sardou, coach house black bean soup, sausage biscuits, and on and on......

                          oh, just took some of its venison recipes to our hunter friends. they are now happy campers! (and cooks)"""<<<

                          from reviewing this, i recalled that this was the cookbook that has my favorite cake recipe, sweet potato surprise cake. it is truly awesome! http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,186,1...

                          here is my commentary from another thread:
                          """the cake is addictive! my sister had one while i was housesitting for a weekend, and i ate sliver by sliver until it was practically gone (and it had started out as half of a large 3-layer cake). i made her a brownie pie that is to this day (some 30 years later) known as "apology pie." ;-)."""