Pros: Perfectly-balanced flavors!
Cons: Waaaay too much butter
Rating: 4 out of 5
First posted 7/13/2000
Goodness, my second review in which I’m going to complain about recipes with too much butter. You’re going to get the wrong idea, I’m sure. I LOVE fatty foods, even if I shouldn’t eat so many of them. I adore rich, full-bodied delicacies. But even I have my limits, and every now and then this book crosses them. There really is such a thing as too much butter. No, really.
Reading Chef Paul Prudhomme’s cookbooks over the past years has been rather interesting. “Louisiana Kitchen” is an extraordinarily high-fat cookbook, with a picture of a VERY large Chef Paul on the cover. “Fork in the Road” has a non-photograph cover and the recipes include aspartame (gack!). “Louisiana Tastes” comes next, I do believe, and takes a much better middle road – less butter, more veggies, but none of that awful aspartame stuff. (I know some people like it, but I can’t stand the aftertaste.) In the picture on the cover Chef Paul looks much older and rather smaller.
Back to “Louisiana Kitchen.” It’s the first Chef Paul book we got, and we still love it, even if we are trying to tone down the fat right now. The cookbook has such a familiar feel to it that we tend to call Chef Paul “Uncle Paul” around the kitchen–he just exudes that sort of we’re-all-family feeling in his recipes.
“Louisiana Kitchen” is Cajun cooking – that means relatively simple, hearty, spicy, highly-flavored cooking. Most of Chef Paul’s recipes include incredible spice mixes. They may look daunting in volume but go with it at least once or twice – I predict you’ll find the flavors and spiciness are almost always exactly right. Chef Paul even provides detailed directions for preparing a roux, that cooked flour/oil mix used to thicken and flavor many Cajun dishes.
Our favorite dishes from this book include the Seafood Dirty Rice. When we made the seafood stuffed whole fish (very impressive-looking!) we used red snapper, and it was wonderful. The oysters en brochette recipe is the best variation of this dish I’ve ever had – full of incredible flavor! The seasoning mix included 4 different types of ground pepper, from sweet paprika to white pepper. The Cajun meat pies with the “salty and sweet” filling (ground pork, ground beef, candied sweet potatoes, and lots of spices) are to die for!
The lamb curry is good, but when it says that it’s “very hot,” it means it. We’d cut the jalapenos. Also, this is one of those recipes that made me comment on the butter – there’s a difference between swimming in fatty goodness and SWIMMING in fatty goodness. The other such recipe is the candied potatoes. We make them on many a Thanksgiving because they have so much flavor, but you might want to halve the butter.
All in all, this is a wonderful cookbook filled with flavors that will amaze you. Don’t buy it if you’re trying to lose weight, though. If you are, try “Louisiana Tastes” instead.