Talk about an icon. Anyone who visits New Orleans knows that Commander’s Palace is at the top of the list when considering the many fine dining choices you have there. And the release of the Commander’s Kitchen cookbook takes you deeper into its history while giving you some of its most famous recipes, like the one for Turtle Soup. Do you have what it takes to try that one in your home kitchen?
The restaurant is the flagship property of one branch of the renowned Brennan family. Ti Adelaide Martin, a daughter of that family, got with the former Executive Chef, Jamie Shannon, to create this book—and continues to carry out many of its recipes with current Executive Chef Tory McPhail.
Commander’s Kitchen just brings it all back to me—my numerous trips to New Orleans, starting when I was just a child all the way to just a few months ago. The sights, sounds, and atmosphere that just isn’t found anywhere else, and that even hurricanes and oil spills can’t totally dampen. I love the philosophy expressed early in this cookbook, that says, “You can’t understand service or hospitality at Commander’s Palace unless you also understand New Orleanians’ passion for savoring life’s pleasures.”
For me, just reading this cookbook is one of life’s pleasures. I love reading why they prefer toast points to crackers, and how their matriarch, Ella Brennan, will call and order the Crab and Cream Cheese Dip when she’s having guests. It’s fun to imagine the flavors of fresh Creole tomatoes, served at their peak in June, July and August, in a lovely Creole Tomato and Vidalia Onion Salad. Many of the recipes come with a Chef’s tip—like how to crack the mustard seeds when making the Honey Mustard Pork Tenderloin, or how to check for corn that is not overly starchy when preparing to make Maque Choux.
And I’d have purchased the book just for the famous Bread Pudding Souffle recipe, and some of the stories around it. I learned the importance of taking it slow, and letting the flavors soak in, and using generous portions of the accompanying sauce. I can’t completely replicate it without New Orleans French bread which, like sourdough made in San Francisco, has its own flavor, but with the recipe I can at least dream of coming close. There are also recipes for other Commander’s Palace mainstays, such as the Lemon Flan and the Creole Cream Cheese Cheesecake.
There are enough photos scattered throughout the book to, well, give you the picture, and the recipes are easy to follow with full instructions. You will also learn the favorites of the restaurant owners, and even a few mistakes made along the way.
Trust me, there’s no mistake with this book. If you like New Orleans, you’ll treasure this book as a memory. And if you just like food, you’ll cook your way through it to some new pleasures and stories of your own.
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