Stir crazy: Settle in for socially distant meals with new Southern cookbooks
It’s that time of year again–time to cozy up with a cookbook and dream of what you’ll be preparing either for a big holiday meal or a casual comfort-food feast with close family. We selected a few of our favorite new cookbooks from around Louisiana and beyond–but just a little beyond, as we limited our choices to those whipped up by Southern chefs and authors.
Considering purchasing any of these books, either for yourself or as a gift? Click on each book’s title to be taken to a south Louisiana independent bookstore from which it can be purchased. Shopping local has never been more important, and that goes for books as much as it does for the ingredients you’ll need to prepare these delicious dishes.
Growing up in Terrebonne Parish, Melissa Martin writes that she thought “everything above Baton Rouge was the north.” “I didn’t know it was special to eat cold crabs for breakfast and be surrounded by water and bayous,” she recalls in the introduction to the cookbook that shares the name of her Uptown New Orleans restaurant. Like her eatery, there’s nothing pretentious about this volume—just authentic downhome dishes and front-porch stories that would make any Louisianan proud to be a Cajun.
Just in time for Thanksgiving menu planning, Lafayette’s George Graham—the man behind the “Acadiana Table” food blog—follows up his first cookbook with this one that takes an even closer look at the unique foods of the Pelican State. With more than 100 recipes organized by season, Graham highlights how “farm to table” is more than a buzzword in these parts, where eating the freshest ingredients has been a part of our culture for centuries.
As the title and subtitle of her book allude, breakfast is something of a religious experience to Crescent City pastry chef Kelly Fields. And if you’ve ever sat inside her sun-filled restaurant Willa Jean on a Sunday morning following a NOLA night out, you might agree. This is food that nourishes the soul, and Fields holds nothing back in spilling the secrets to her most popular dishes, from cornbread to hand pies to those praise-worthy square biscuits.
While at first glance the timing of Oxford, Mississippi, chef John Currence’s new book might not seem perfect—what with the ban on tailgating on many campuses—it turns out that the opposite is true. When better to step up your football-focused culinary game than in a year when you have more time than ever to perfect your plates? Must-try recipes include morning-kickoff dishes like smoked shrimp breakfast burritos, “bowl game” chilis and gumbos, and a section of cocktails aptly called “The Freaking Refs!!!” Game on!
Guy Fieri called her the “brunch queen.” Chopped crowned her champ. Now the chef and owner of Atlanta’s Buttermilk Kitchen restaurant invites us all to gather around her morning table, where farm-to-table Southern comfort food is king. Found here are recipes for customer favorites like fried chicken biscuits, pimento cheese grits and waffle burgers. “My hope is to empower readers to make delicious, company-worthy food in their own homes,” Vizethann writes, “and of course to have fun while doing it.”
Every proper Southern kitchen requires a few essential tools, and a good cast iron pan is foremost among them. Perfect for everything from frying chicken to baking cornbread to searing steaks, this do-it-all vessel produces flavor that today’s nonstick pans just can’t duplicate. “Cast-iron connoisseur” Ashley L. Jones, a Tallahassee-based blogger, professes her own love for this cookware in this beautifully photographed volume filled with classic recipes and tips. “What started as a way to reconnect with my own family roots–and recapture those old flavors I missed so much–has become a way of life,” Jones writes.
Recipe developer and teacher Brian Theis divides his time between New Orleans and New York City, but it’s the Big Easy that most influences his new book on entertaining at home. Inspired by his collection of midcentury cookbooks–“there is a charming artistry, simplicity and enthusiasm in the way the visuals and the methods are presented,” he explains–Theis wrote his new book with a focus on helping home cooks in much the same way, through colorful and whimsical photos and illustrations combined with easy recipes categorized by season. Thrown in for good measure are party-planning tips and even songs (full sheet music included) to jazz up any gathering. Sounds like a formula for fun!