Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Special Delivery

"The Commander's Palace New Orleans Cookbook" was tucked nicely in the front door frame waiting on me when I got home this evening. I didn't open it immediately because there was a good chance my crunchy gordita from Taco Bell was getting soggy....and I was kinda scared of the book. After eating my polar opposite dinner entree, I stood over the large cardboard envelope and stared at it with hesitation.

I had a rushing "Oh my. What have I done?" moment last night while reading all the reviews of the book on Amazaon. I flipped back through the previewed Index and my chest got a tinsy bit tight - kinda like now - when I realized I must prepare escargot.

The envelope was calling my name, I opened it slowly, as will most likely be the pace of this journey, and started reading out loud.


As I read the Introduction, I had a sense of comfort which is exactly why this is the only suitable book to have selected. I love the Brennan family. Don't know them and probably won't ever meet them; however, these are my favorite kind of folks. Well-rounded, self-educated, hard-working, down-to-earth, Southernly good people. Here's my favorite part of the Introduction -

"The ambience we try to create at Commander's is one of causal elegance on an intimate scale. Visitors receive all the courtesies they would in our home. This is part of the Southern tradition of hospitality, and the way we were brought up to entertain."  - Ella Brennan & Dick Brennan (brother & sister)

(Insert disclaimer here to all authentic Creole & Cajuns, as I may have interpreted something incorrectly)
Commander's has implemented "Haute Creole" on their menu, and a majority of the recipes we will experience are categorized as such. I just had my second educational conversation of history and differences of Creole and Cajun (The first was by Nick Speyrer, true LA man/husband of Abby, one of my best friends/Kate's, one of the most beautiful baby girls, dad.). How amazing is it that Cajun and Creole cooking has influences from France, Spain, West Indies, Cuba, Mexico, Louisiana region, and Choctaw Indians! It's half the world mixed in one cuisine.

Now, there is one final decision to make before announcing my culinary manifesto - How should I go about it? Should I cook one chapter at a time? Or should I skip around? There are a few things I must research that will dictate some recipes such as oyster season, finding good duck in Memphis (if this is possible), turtle and escargot. All four readers, including Brad who has yet to realize I am serious, that I think are out following, tell me what you think. Darn, that means we need a fifth reader to vote as tie breaker.

To make an educated decision, here is the breakdown of chapters -
  • 14 Cocktails
  • 36 Appetizers & Soups (fyi - 8 oyster and 2 escargot)
  • 17 Salads
  • 14 Egg Dishes
  • 32 Seafood (fyi - lots of crab, redfish, 2 oyster, and 2 crawfish)
  • 14 Chicken & Game (fyi - 5 duck, 1 quail, and 1 Pigeon...really!)
  • 17 Beef & Veal
  • 31 Desserts & Coffees
  • 17 Stocks & Sauces
  • Total of 192 recipes
Now, I'm going to sleep to dream about this fine sir shaking up a delightful concoction for me at Commander's in NOLA.


Anonymous said...

I think you should skip around in order to avoid burnout. Although, if this is a weekly thing, that might not be a big deal. Okay, never mind.
I am no help at all, but I do know where you can find lots of pigeons.

NIck and Abbie Speyrer said...

I am going to love watching you do this!! When I told Nick about it this morning he said "That's going to be expensive!" If you need help acquiring any of your ingredients, let us know we can export some to you from the real Cajun country. As for how you should attack this...if it were me, I'd probably have to skip around...go where I was inspired at the moment. Good luck!! I can't wait to find out what you are going to cook first.

The Berry Patch said...

Leslie - As always you a wonderful help. I take your vote very seriously. I am going to yack thinking about the pigeon recipe.

Abbie - I am excited you're following but nervous as I have the pressure of true LA folk reading. I'm going to scale the recipes as much as possible to avoid additional expenses and waste. Thanks for offering to send some ingredients. I had already thought of that. I'm going to read through the recipes to find any common ingredients to invest in and may need your help. When we come in April, I think it would be cool to cook one of the recipes with y'all...maybe pigeon. Kidding, kind of. I might need Nick's brothers to help me with that one!

Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio
Brad and me in Florence, Italy