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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Cooking Up a Storm

Cooking Up a Storm, edited by Marcelle Bienvenu, is a compendium of the "Exchange Alley" recipe exchange column from the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The column began as a way for displaced New Orleanians, and those still in the rebuilding city, to reclaim recipes lost during Hurricane Katrina. Every recipe is preceded by a brief paragraph explaining the dish's importance, either to a specific person who requested it, or in the culinary history of the city, or as a local restaurant's most-favored menu item. The stories are as diverse and varied as the people and cultures who make up New Orleans, and more than one, I'm not ashamed to admit, made me a little weepy. I'm honestly considering cooking my way through the entire book. You know, as a selfless tribute. Because what could I possibly get out of making things like Louisiana Crab and Corn Bisque, Irma Thomas's Macaroni and Cheese, or the Palace Cafe's White Chocolate Bread Pudding?

I know, right? In any case, by mere chance I volunteered at my last Jaycee's meeting to bring the snack for the meeting this Thursday, so I'm making the first recipe in Cooking Up a Storm (not counting the cocktails--oh, yes, there's a whole section of cocktails. Sazerac, anyone?): Better than Better Cheddar. 'Better Cheddar' is evidently a New Orleans party must-have, provided by Langenstein's, an fancy grocery store that specializes in delicious prepared foods. This particular spread involves shredded smoked Gouda, shredded sharp white cheddar, scallions, walnuts, and homemade Creole mayonnaise. Heart attack on a cracker! I can't wait.

What do you think something like that would be good on? I'm thinking Ritz crackers. Or maybe a sliced baguette. Thoughts?


Mmmm yummy. I like buttery clubhouse crackers. This sounds like a wonderful book.

Normally, I'm a Triscuit girl, but in this case I think you need bread. Maybe some good Cuban or Italian. Something with some heft that can hold up to a spread like that.

Ah New Orleans...I think we're going back in a few months. It's just the best place to hang!

I need to move up to where you're at so I can get some good 'eats'! I'm a big fan of cookbooks so that sounds like a good one to get.

It all sounded great until we got to the homemade creole mayo. Anything that hints at "secret sauce" always loses me. BUT, if I were to be a secret sauce kind of girl, I would definitely suggest a buttery cracker like a ritz:)

The creole mayo is essentially homemade mayonnaise with a dash of Tabasco for spice and a pinch of paprika for smoke and color. I'm looking forward to having a batch on hand!

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