Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Cookbook You Should Own

Many restaurant chefs attempt to write a cookbook filled to the brim with authentic recipes from the kitchen of __________. Most of the times these books fail. This is due to a variety of factors. First, they have skills that pay bills. Second, they have kitchens the size of your house. Third, they have a team of assistants and chefs who ply them with things like lobster stock and hen of the woods mushrooms caked in mud.

Susan Spicer, along with Paula Disbrowe, has pulled off the impossible in Crescent City Cooking. Together they have crafted a cookbook which not only makes you want to go to Bayona, but also to cook her food at home. And for the most part, the brilliance of her cooking translates into dishes you can actually make And without needing a flock of sous chefs or immersion circulators.

Chef Spicer's Garlic Soup has been a mainstay on our table at Thanksgiving for the last two years. Here is the essence of the recipe: low heat, loads of garlic and onions, let them turn mahogany as the bird in the oven, add stock, chunks of day old french bread, blend. That didn't hurt one bit, did it?

Over July 4th, the blog tested her jalepeno roast pork. Again here is the jist: take jalepeno, garlic, olive oil, mash em together, and coat pork butt, roast low and slow and covered, for four hours. The meat shreds into a succulent, earthy expression of X Rated Pork. You can feed an army with this recipe for about $10. The following day the remainder of the pork went into a pot with some tomato sauce, cumin, and beer to create a delicious taco filing.

Jalepeno roasted pork with queso fresco, hot sauce and parsley

Crabmeat is da bomb dot com blackslash your mom (trying to avoid spam mail) right now. I am not a fan of hot crabmeat, to me it always seems a poor use of a brilliant ingredient. Chef Spicer's cold crabmeat salad is tart and tangy, a delightful foil for the buttery rich crabmeat blessing our markets right now. While it may seem a little unnecessary to blanch diced carrots, if that is "hard", take a week and try to make Keller's salmon cornets.

Cookbooks, for me, are often just a great insight into the mind of a cook and a place to learn new flavor combinations and techniques. But somehow through a combination of charm, sincerity, and toughness, I find myself not only following Chef Spicer's recipes to the T, but also wanting to experiment with her ideas (see tacos). That's a good book in mine.

FYI: Ms. Disbrowe also co-wrote Donald Link's cookbook which I have merely glanced at, but I hear it is just as good.

Crescent City Cooking-Eagle.

Chef Spicer's Pickled Shrimp Boil

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