Book Reviews | February 2011 | Deb Burst

Kitchen Bound with Premier New Orleans Cookbooks

Bring home a taste of New Orleans in dishes created by some of our culinary wizards. We'll start with Poppy Tooker, a New Orleans culinary activist, along with her friends at the Crescent City Farmer's Market. Donald Link will share his magic grown from his culinary roots in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Nationally acclaimed Chef John Besh revisits his childhood hunting and fishing the Southeast Louisiana bayous, while Chef David Guas finishes things off with tasty, tempting desserts reminiscent of old Style New Orleans. Gather family and friends for a supper club taking turns drawing one dish from each book.

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Poppy Tooker, Crescent City Farmers Market Cookbook
Thirteen years in the making, the Crescent City Farmers Market Cookbook captures the story of New Orleans in local farmers, fishermen, chefs, and local food-loving market shoppers. The book, written by NOLA's food authority and market supporter Poppy Tooker, celebrates the city's rich culinary heritage with 125 season recipes from New Orleans chefs, and family favorites from farmers and market shoppers. "Apart from being a tribute to the farmers, 100 percent of the net proceeds goes to further our projects," says Poppy. "The book is peppered with heartfelt and hilarious stories about the people who animate our Crescent City Farmer Market twice weekly, rain or shine," adds Emery Van Hook, Director of Markets.

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Chef Donald Link, Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald
A descendant of Germans of Acadiana growing up in Lake Charles preparing and eating at his grandfather's side, Chef Link shares his love for authentic Cajun cuisine in his premier cookbook Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald. Embracing old style traditions Link breaks down whole pigs in his own Boucherie, creating boudin, andouille, smoked bacon, and head cheese. His book details how to make homemade bacon, fried oyster & bacon sandwich, tomato and bacon pie, along with twice baked potatoes with, you guessed it, fresh bacon sprinkled on top. Wild game enthusiasts will appreciate the classic boudin recipe filled with pork liver and shoulder, and deer sausage with venison and pork butt. Plus simple country style recipes rich in local ingredients such as softshell crab with chili glaze or Satsuma buttermilk pie, along with Link's engaging sense of humor and memories of growing up in Lake Charles. You can sample his food first hand at his New Orleans restaurants Herbsaint and Cochon in the New Orleans artsy Warehouse District. Stop by Couchon Butcher for a delectable spin on an old style butcher shop with artisan meats and sausages, along with sandwiches, and ready to cook stuffed chicken, duck confit and pork roasts.

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Chef John Besh, My New Orleans
Chef John Besh, noted New Orleans chef of five popular New Orleans restaurants has added something else to his plate: author. Chef Besh's first cookbook, My New Orleans, features food Besh grew up with along the bayous of Louisiana and later refined during his years studying around the country and in Europe. It's a unique culinary tour of the flavors and ingredients found in New Orleans and Louisiana celebrated through festivals, feast days, and holidays. It offers a history of the city and its dishes while ensuring the home cook achieves success with chef Besh's recipes. The 200 recipes preserve New Orleans' traditions and ingredients and include classics such as Seafood Gumbo, Crawfish Etouffee, Jambalaya and Shrimp and Grits to chef Besh's more contemporary dishes.

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Chef David Guas, DamGoodSweet
The debut cookbook by New Orleans-bred pastry chef David Guas and food writer Raquel Pelzel, is part memoir, part travelogue and all cookbook, DamGoodSweet transports cooks from their home kitchens into the giant dessert gumbo that is New Orleans, introducing unforgettable characters, places, traditions and smells of that wonderfully unique American City. Beignets, bananas foster, lemon icebox pie, red velvet cake, salted caramels, and syrup-soaked snoballs are just a few of the sweet endings that bring David back home every time. Including 50 delicious recipes, DamGoodSweet offers David's version of these classics and new treats such as Calas Fried Rice Fritters, a fritter just about as popular as beignets during the 19th century but a recipe lost to most New Orleanians today.

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