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Feb 16, 2010 06:20 AM

best cookbook for the cooking of louisiana/ new orleans?

any thoughts for this New Yorker who wants to get his louisiana cooking on?

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  1. My favorite New Orleans cookbook is the classic by the recently deceased Richard Collin and his late wife, Rima. The recipes are accessible and very easy to follow. This is the book I always give to folks who want to try New Orleans cooking. I also like La Bouche Creole by Leon Soniat.

    John Besh's recent My New Orleans is a huge, beautiful book, as much a love letter to the area as a cookbook. I've cooked only two of the recipes, so I don't have a lot of practical experience with it. But it is lovely.

    As for "Louisiana" cooking (the cooking of South Louisiana is pretty distinct from that of the northern part of the state), I'm guessing you're probably thinking more along the lines of Cajun cooking, and for that the standard is Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen, currently the COTM. I learned how to make roux and gumbo and many other standards from it and swear by it, despite its many peculiarities ( most of which are discussed in the current COTM threads, which you may find helpful). LK includes a lot of classic Cajun dishes as well as some New Orleans standards, but there are also many fancied-up (deliciously so) versions of the Cajun standards as well as cajunized versions of American standards. Warning: Prudhomme's recipes call for copious amounts of fat, which can easily--and without flavor sacrifice--be reduced. John Folse's Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine is another weighty tome, and while I've never cooked from it, cooks I respect love it.

    12 Replies
    1. re: nomadchowwoman

      Paul Prudhomme's book is still wonderful for Cajun. For Creole, I love any of Leah Chase's books, and "The 100 Best Dishes in Louisiana History." John Folse's book is excellent, but huge.

      1. re: nomadchowwoman

        I'm sorry to hear of Richard and Rima Collin's demise. I always loved the New Orleans Cookbook; it was the first "true" New Orleans cookbook I ever purchased. I also recommend it and second the accessibility and "easy to follow" opinions.

        Paul Prudhomme is still the king of Cajun and his Louisiana Kitchen will definitely get anyone started.

        1. re: nomadchowwoman

          I know I'm late to the table on this one.
          I've just recently picked up the book by Chef Besh and am looking forward to sitting down and reading through it.
          Have you made many of the recipes since this last post almost a year ago?

          I also love this one from Brennan's.

          1. re: grnidkjun

            Since the thread is revived...Real Cajun by Donald Link. It reads really well, and I am teetering on purchase...anyone cooked from it? Feels contemporary and traditional at the same time...

            1. re: pitu

              I haven't, but I am a fan of his restaurants. I thought the book looked really good, and I bought it for my brother, who craves Cajun food, for Christmas. He told me in an e-mail last week that he really likes it and has been cooking from it (I think he made both gumbo and etouffee) although he was having trouble finding the proper ingredienst in Denver.

              1. re: pitu

                What a wonderful cookbook. To date, I've made the sausage stuffed chicken thighs, his decadent bread pudding and the old school chicken and sausage jambalaya, which is among the best things I've ever cooked out of a book. Definitely buy this.

                1. re: Mr Bigglesworth

                  chicken and sausage jambalaya is the thing I made from the book when I had it out from the library - loved it

                  1. re: pitu

                    This dish alone is worth the cost of the book. I crave it constantly.

              2. re: grnidkjun

                Hi there grnidkjun--I did love reading through this book, and I love showing it to people, but I haven't cooked a whole lot out of it. Everything I've tried has been good so far, and there are several more recipes I want to take a crack at.
                I cooked a few recipes, trying to recreate experiences. The most spectacular was "Momma Rochelle's Stuffed Quail Gumbo," which I used to always get at La Provence (before Besh owned it). I had tried to do this, without a recipe, years ago, in Michigan, and it came out great. But, with recipe in hand, I made it again last summer (in Michigan, where for some reason it's easier to find the boned quail), and it was much more like the real thing. A fair amount of work but delicious.
                A few months ago, I also made the Fall Greens Salad w/Pumpkin Seed Brittle, something we always order at Restaurant August . It, too, was a bit of effort for a salad, but it was delicious, and we were able to make several salads once I'd made the brittle and the dressing.
                I've also made a quail-chanterelle salad, and I used his recipe for horseradish-rubbed standing rib roast this past Christmas. Other than that, I've only used the recipes for spinach madeleine and trout amandine and meuniere. (His remoulade sauce recipe and his peach jam recipe are almost exactly like recipes I already had been using, so I guess they don't count.)

                I don't have the Brennan Seafood Book, but I've been tempted to buy it. We eat at Ralph Brennan's restaurants often. If their recipe for BBQ shrimp is there, that alone would probably make the book worthwhile.

                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                  The recipe for the shrimp is on the web site and it is outstanding and so easy. The Brennan's recipe for Crawfish Ettouffee is always a hit as well.
                  I can't get fresh crawfish here so have to use frozen. Both of these dishes I've made many times and everyone always loves them.


                  1. re: grnidkjun

                    I often use frozen crawfish tails myself. As long as they're from Louisiana, I'm fine w/the frozen--and have never noticed any difference in etouffee.

            2. "Cookin' Up A Storm" is a nice volume from the Times-Picayune, recipes that ran in the paper before Katrina. It's a nice contemporary survey.

              1 Reply
              1. re: pitu

                I have to agree. I bought this a few weeks back and have had great success with it. Not just good to read, but good to cook out of.

              2. Justin Wilson's books have always done me right. Made a feast from his recipes 22 years ago as a teen and have loved them ever since.

                1 Reply
                1. re: dcfb

                  Justin Wilson's Homegrown Louisiana Cooking was the first one I picked up. I used to watch his show many years before and when I wanted to start making gumbo, felt he was the go to guy. I still use the book a lot but have since picked up Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen and Heaven on Seven books. Justin and Paul are the two I use most with extremely great results!

                2. John Folse, "Encyclopedia of Creole and Cajun Cuisine."

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Ernie Diamond

                    That book is incredibly beautiful - I took a browse through it at Kitchen Arts & Letters. Would love to own it. I looked at Cookin' Up a Storm at the same time, and thought it had a lot of recipes for dishes one doesn't traditionally associate with Louisiana/New Orleans.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      I looked at Cookin' Up a Storm at the same time, and thought it had a lot of recipes for dishes one doesn't traditionally associate with Louisiana/New Orleans.


                      Seeing a recipe for Sauerbraten, followed by Osso Bucco, Bruccioloni, and then Pork Chops with Turnips, and Rabbit or Squirrel Sauce Piquant may be a bit confusing until one remembers the distant past and present day influence of the Italians, German's and others who have contributed to the foodways of the area...HTH


                    2. re: Ernie Diamond

                      I have to agree about Chef Folse's "Encyclopedia". I have a personalized copy (long story) and Chef Folse speaks of "South Louisiana cooking" in his note.

                      That seems to fit the OP's request to a tee.

                      If you can see your way clear to investing in this tome, please consider it! It's wonderful.

                      However, "River Road", "Talk About Good", anything by Leon Soniat cannot be overlooked.

                      I have WAY too many books in this genre to be able to choose!

                      (And here's to the Collins' for forging the trail!)

                      1. re: Monch

                        Love Folse's Encyclopeida. What an incredible read of food and history.

                        1. re: FoodChic

                          Just looked at it.

                          What other book, of similar value, gives you a 5-pound recipe for andouille on one page and starts the next with "50 pounds of ground pork butt" for the following recipe.

                          Does anyone have any input about his "After the Hunt" book?

                          I'm not a sportsman, but if it's worth a look, I'll consider the purchase.

                      2. "River Road Recipes" by the Junior League of Baton Rouge is in a class by itself.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: grampart

                          I second the River Road Recipes!! Wonderful book- even if you don't cook from it, it's well worth it in terms of entertainment! (But the recipes are great too).

                          1. re: happybellynh

                            wondering what recipes you particularly recommend in this book. It has sat on my shelf for years without being used and I am starting to feel I have too many books in that category.

                          2. re: grampart

                            I was in New Orleans a few weeks ago and my colleague recommended the River Road series (along with the John Folse book). She said the second River Road was the best, but I haven't been able to find it.

                            I stumbled across the first one at a used book store and gladly picked it up. Great, straightforward recipes.

                            1. re: grampart

                              The problem with community cookbooks is figuring out which recipes are "the good ones."

                              1. re: grampart

                                I totally agree with the recommendation for River Road Recipes. All of them are excellent. I have never made anything out of RRR's that was not great.

                                1. re: grampart

                                  I agree with everyone else as well. I picked it up on a lark and was very pleased with it.

                                  1. re: Crockett67

                                    add me to the fan base of river road recipes.