It Is What It Is.

Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen, William Morrow, 1984

 Book Review by Steve Holetz

The first cookbook I ever purchased, Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen will always be special to me.
In 1989 I had never tasted Cajun food. My Louisiana relatives had told me about Gumbo, a spicy stew chock full
of seafood which sounded fantastic to me, but I never had the opportunity to try it. One day I was perusing the
small selection of Creole and Cajun cookbooks at the Los Angeles bookstore where I worked and came across
this title. As a young man on a modest salary, the big man on the cover with the even larger plates of meat, sausages,
gumbos and pies pointed to a culinary abundance that I couldn’t wait to explore myself.

 Louisiana Kitchen covers almost every recipe that one might think in the realm of Cajun and Creole cooking: Gumbo,
Jambalaya, Etoufee, Shrimp Remoulade, Blackened fish, you name it, it’s in there. As a matter of fact, if you have
shrimp around the house and are undecided about what to do with it, I can’t think of a better book to turn to, as the
variety of delicious platforms for shrimp alone is fantastic. The book’s recipe for Shrimp Diane has become a special
Valentine's day, Birthday and Anniversary dinner at my house for years, and is not be missed. Even the basic rice
recipe is wonderful. The rice is baked with chicken stock, onions and bell pepper, endowing it with amazing flavor. 
And don’t get me started on the Red beans and rice, Awesome!

As for the Gumbo recipes, look out. Here we are given seven different recipes, using either roux or file’. I have
made the Seafood File’ and the Chicken Andouille gumbos, both of which are wonderfully complex in flavor.
Chef Paul accomplishes this by using seasoning blends which build tremendous levels of flavor and heat, a
technique that Emeril Lagasse would take to an unprecedented popularity a decade later. One caveat though:
 If you follow these recipe’s to the letter, you will come out with a finished dish that may be a bit challenging to
those with a low tolerance for spicy heat, so know your audience and adjust accordingly. 

From a sheer beauty standpoint, the book is somewhat lackluster in comparison to today’s beautifully shot
high gloss cooking titles, but that deficiency is more than compensated for by the content. The recipes are well
written and concise, and give you a good idea of what to expect throughout the cooking process. There is even
a photo color chart for the different stages of roux, which I found extremely helpful.

Most of the necessary ingredients for these recipes are easy to find at your local grocery store or fish market.
The only challenge might be a need to make substitutions for Pork Andouille sausage or Tasso Ham if you
are in a hurry and can’t hunt it down.

So, if you are looking for an excellent introduction Cajun and Creole cooking, Look no further, as Chef Paul’s
accessible and flavorful collection of recipes make a great addition to any cookbook library.   

  Copyright  2007 Steven J Holetz

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