Saturday, April 28, 2012

Broussard's of New Orleans publishes cookbook to honor 100-year tradition

            Broussard’s restaurant at 819 Conti Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans is one of the grand dames of Creole cuisine. But its history can be traced back to Acadiana.
            The Broussard family began in Louisiana with the arrival of Acadian hero Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil, who led the Acadian resistance against the English in Nova Scotia during the Acadian exile beginning in 1755. When Broussard arrived in Louisiana, he settled near Lafayette.
            Descendants Joseph Cesar Broussard and his brother Robert, born in Loreauville, traveled to New Orleans to enter the restaurant business with Joseph training under Chef Mornay Voiron of Paris for a time. When Joseph married Rosalie Borello, her parents gifted the couple use of the 819 Conti St. property as a wedding gift. Joseph and Rosalie Broussard opened Broussard’s in 1920.
            The elegant restaurant owns an interesting history, including a visit by Pope John Paul II. The restaurant is operated today by the Preuss family.
            Pelican Publishing honors the almost 100 years of Broussard history with a lovely cookbook, “Broussard’s Restaurant and Courtyard Cookbook,” filled with both history of the restaurant — its building dating back to around 1834 — as well as exquisite recipes and beautiful photographs. The book is written by Ann Benoit and the Preuss family with a foreword by Tom Fitzmorris.
            Here’s a sample recipe, the one served to Pope John Paul II when he visited New Orleans:

Crawfish Broussard
2 tablespoons fresh butter
2 tablespoons sliced green onions
1 tablespoon minced French shallots
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 lemon, juiced
1 3/4 cups Béchamel sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh dill
1 1/2 pounds boiled crawfish tails
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
6 boiled crawfish tails

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions, shallots and garlic and sauté until transparent, but not brown, about 2 minutes. Add wine and lemon juice and reduce by half. Add Béchamel sauce and reduce by one-third. Add crawfish and simmer for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and cayenne. Put in ramekins, top with Parmigiano-Reggiano and bake in oven until cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Garnish with crawfish and serve immediately.         

Note: Broussard’s is open for Mother’s Day Brunch from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 13, in the restaurant and courtyard. For reservations, call (504) 581-3866 or email

Other cookbooks
            Memphis natives Paul and Angela Knipple tour the South but look at global traditions in their latest book, “The World in a Skillet: A Food Lover’s Tour of the New American South.” Traditional cuisine is included, naturally, such as calas or sweetened rice cakes, offered by Poppy Tucker of New Orleans and crawfish étouffée by Jim Romero of Coteau. But the majority of the book looks at the influence of immigrants to the South: Vietnamese pickled mustard greens, Little Toyko tuna tartare or kibbeh or Lebanese-style meat pies, to name but a few. The fascinating book contains 50 new recipes, in addition to histories of immigrants — both old and new — and their experiences merging with Southern traditions. You can read a good profile of the couple at
            Pelican Publishing continues its series on New Orleans cuisine with “New Orleans Classic Brunches” by Kit Wohl. This new edition features the best in New Orleans brunch cuisine, from eggs Hussarde and turtle soup to grillades and grits and pain perdue bananas Foster. In addition, there are numerous drink recipes.
            Continuing the breakfast-brunch theme is a lovely cookbook from Chronicle Books titled “Crêpes: 50 Savory and Sweet Recipes” by Martha Holmberg. The author explains basic crepe recipes, with tips on equipment, cooking and ingredients, then delivers mouth-watering recipes that range from savory to sweet.
            A handy cookbook for those with allergies is “Allergy-Friendly Food for Families” from the editors of Kiwi, a bimonthly magazine that looks at raising families with natural and organic foods. The cookbook offers 120 gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free and soy-free recipes.
            If you want to teach your kids ways to help choose healthy foods, there are numerous farmer’s markets in Lafayette. Leslie Jonath and Ethel Brennan have written “At the Farmers’ Market with Kids: Recipes and Projects for Little Hands” (Chronicle Books). This charming book showcases what delectable, healthy foods you can purchase from farmers but also provides wonderful ways to prepare them.
            For those who want to take the fight for healthier food further, “Lunch Wars: How to Start a School Food Revolution and Win the Battle for Our Children’s Health” (Penguin) offers great instruction on how to demand for better meals in public schools. The book is written by Amy Kalafa, producer of the award-winning film, “Two Angry Moms: Fighting for the Health of America’s Children.”
            Angela Shelf Medearis aka TV’s “Kitchen Diva,” provides 150 healthy recipes for those concerned with sugar intake in “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook” (Andrews McMeel). These are not recipes leaving you wanting, I might add; the book is filled with innovative dishes for those concerned with diabetes or interesting in living a more healthy life.
            Here’s one to try:

Jerk Chicken Salad with Tropical Fruit Dressing
For dressing:
1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup fresh squeezed pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil
2 teaspoons stevia granulated sweetener or agave syrup
1/2 teaspoon grated orange or lime zest
1/4 cup fresh orange juice or lime juice
For marinade:
1/4 cup no-sugar-added apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons stevia granulated sweetener or agave syrup
2 to 3 tablespoons habanero hot sauce (or your preference)
2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 green onions, including green parts, chopped
4 (4-ounces) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Olive oil cooking spray
1 (3- to 6-ounce) bag prewashed mixed salad greens
1 1/2 cups chopped or shredded radicchio
8 figs, quartered, or 12 green or purple seedless grapes, halved
1 cup fresh or canned pineapple chunks in natural juices
Pomegranate seeds, for garnish

Directions: To make the dressing, mix together dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate. To make the jerk marinade, mix together vinegar, sweetener, hot sauce, allspice, onion powder, garlic powder, cinnamon, salt, pepper and green onions in a small bowl until well blended. Spray the chicken with the olive oil cooking spray. Place the chicken in a resealable plastic bag. Pour the jerk seasoning marinade over the chicken and press and shake the bag until all the pieces are thoroughly coated. Press out any air, seal the bag, and place it in a baking pan to prevent leaks. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Discard the marinade and allow the chicken to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Spray a large skillet with the olive oil cooking spray and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook the chicken for about 6 minutes, on each side, or until browned and no longer pink. Remove the chicken from the skillet, and let it rest for 6 to 7 minutes. Thinly slice each chicken breast. Toss together the greens, radicchio, figs or grapes and pineapple. Divide the salad among 4 plates. Arrange the warm chicken slices on top of each salad. Drizzle each with 1 Tbsp. of the tropical fruit dressing. Reserve extra dressing for other salads. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds, if desired. Serves 4.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Louisiana honors World Book Night April 23; new titles appearing now

World Book Night is a celebration of reading and books throughout the nation on April 23. Tens of thousands of people will share half a million books with others tomorrow — literally giving books away — in an effort to spread the joy and love of reading. For example, Patrice Melnick of Grand Coteau will be passing out 20 copies of the “Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kinsolver and my son, Taylor Coen, will be passing out “The Kiterunner” by Khaled Hosseini on the UL campus. World Book Night is a nonprofit organization supported by American book publishers, the American Booksellers Association, Barnes & Noble, the American Library Association, the Association of American Publishers and Ingram Book Distributors. For more information, visit

Letters About Literature
            The State Library’s Louisiana Center for the Book announced the state winners of the Letters About Literature competition, a national reading-writing contest that asks students to write a personal letter to an author or poet, living or dead, explaining how that writer’s work impacted the students’ lives or worldviews.
            The Letters About Literature national headquarters received 787 entries from Louisiana students. From these were chosen Louisiana’s finalists. Winning entries for each level were then selected by a panel of judges comprised of Louisiana teachers and librarians. National winners will be announced in the spring.           
            The Louisiana winners of the competition are:
            Level I (grades 4–6), first place, Ella Frantzen, individual entry, Lafayette; second place, Emma Gruesbeck, and third place, Asia Pikes, NSU Laboratory School, Natchitoches.
            Level II (grades 7–8), first place, Imogen Hoffman, Ursuline Academy, New Orleans; second place, Olivia Gower, Our Lady of Fatima, Lafayette; third place, Olivia Parker, Baton Rouge International School.
            Level III (grades 9–12), first place, Lea Trusty, Destrehan High School, Destrehan; second place, Samantha Barnes, Northshore High School, Slidell; third place, Rebecca Aaron, Bolton High School, Alexandria. 
             Frantzen wrote to “Old Yeller” author Fred Gipson: “I love to read because reading takes me away. When I read your book, though, it did not take me anywhere. It brought me home.” 
            The Louisiana Writing Project serves as a partner in the state’s Letters About Literature contest. For a complete list of this year’s winners and finalists, visit

New releases
            Lafayette writing instructor Kim B. Graham experienced tragedy all mothers fear. Her son, Pvt. Mark W. Graham, was critically injured in Iraq and passed away five days later at Brooks Army Medical Center in San Antonio. Exactly a year to the day, Kim Graham dreamt of a glimpse of heaven, one she feels prepared her for Mark’s death and that brought her comfort and strength to face her intense grief. Her book relating both, “A Song in the Night,” is heartfelt, both an examination of a woman’s spiritual journey to understand the divine and its relationship in processing grief and sorrow. Beautifully written, it will bring comfort to those in similar situations, as well as for those searching for truth. The book is published by Dragonfly Press.
            Jay Mazza has written a book examining the New Orleans music scene of the 1980s and 1990s in “Up Front and Center: The New Orleans Music at the End of the 20th Century.” The book is published by The Threadhead Cultural Foundation, an organization that funds recording projects.
            James Houk has published “Humanus Diabolicus:  A Postmodern Prophecy” with Margaret Media based out of Donaldsonville, “an anthropological commentary on the human condition set in the form of an apocalyptic novel,” Houk wrote me by email. For more information, check out the trailer on or visit 
            Rhonda Dennis of Morgan City has published a series of romantic suspense books set in the fictional town of Green Bayou. Her latest release, “Déjà Vu,” is the third installment with the first two books, “Going Home” and “Awakenings,” both released in 2011. For information or to read sample chapters, visit

Book news
            A&E Gallery presents poetry and performances from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdsay at the gallery, 335 W. St. Peter St. in New Iberia. Authors include Jim McDowell, Stephanie Judice, Margaret Gibson Simon and a short film by James Edmunds. There will also be an open mic, book sales and refreshments.
            The Berries, Bridges and Books annual writer’s conference will be 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Ponchatoula Community Center, 350 N. Fifth St. in Ponchatoula. The keynote speaker will be C.E. Vetter with participating authors Sylvia Rochester, Allison Hoffman, Deborah Lynne, Christa Allan, Kathryn Martin, Barbara Colley, Diana Rowland, Barry Bradford, Mike Artell, Sim Shattuck, Susan Mustafa and Ellie James, among others. Visit for more information.
            Kathleen Calhoun Nettleton has become publisher and president of Pelican Publishing Company of New Orleans. The daughter of former Pelican president, Dr. Milburn Calhoun, who died in January, she is an LSU graduate and former assistant to the publisher. Calhoun worked in Pelican’s sales department during high school and college and joined Pelican full-time in 1983. She became promotion director in 1985 and assistant to the publisher in 2008.
            Before it’s too late, check out the finalists for the Country Roads 2012 Readers’ Choice Contest and vote for your favorite. The author of the story receiving the most votes will win a $200 cash prize, and their story published as the “Readers’ Choice” in the magazine’s June 2012 Regional Writings issue. To read the short stories, visit
            The deadline for the 2012 Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition is May 15. Now in its 32nd year, the contest has had among their winners Heidi Durrow whose novel, “The Girl Who Fell from the Sky,” won The Bellwether Prize for Fiction and Naomi Benaron, who won the Bellwether in 2010, among others. For more information, visit
            The Alabama Writers Symposium will be April 26-28 in Monroeville, Alabama. For information, visit

Cheré Coen is the author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education. Write her at

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Duff imagines 'Evangeline League' baseball in 'Dirty Rice'

            The University of Louisiana Press has published a novel by Gerald Duff just in time for the opening of baseball season and Duff’s visit to Lafayette. Unfortunately, I received it so close to press time that I didn’t get a chance to read it myself. But here’s a synopsis and a few comments from those who have:
            “Dirty Rice” follows talented pitcher Gemar Batiste of Texas who is recruited in 1935 to play for the Rayne Rice Birds, a minor league team and part of the “Evangeline League.” He brings the team fame with his expertise but, because of his Alabama-Coushatta Indian heritage, is asked to play the stereotypical Indian, encouraged to cheat. Batiste must learn how to honor his heritage and uphold the integrity of the game.
            Cajun author and photographer Greg Guirard said of the novel, “I am ready to believe that Gemar Batiste really existed, that he played and starred for the Rayne Rice Birds in 1935. In fact, I would be disappointed to learn that it all never happened. I am also ready to believe that the author played in the Evangeline League, so accurate and authentic is his stance and delivery. There is nostalgia of the best sort in this book, as well as humor, sadness and a generous serving of Native American philosophy.”
            “Gerald Duff's Native American hero, Gemar Batiste, is to baseball what Huck Finn was to the Mississippi River,” wrote John Ed Bradley, author of “It Never Rains in Tiger Stadium.” “‘Dirty Rice’ is so vividly imagined that it often feels like an honest-to-god memoir, with its precise and unflinching evocation of place and its treatment of men both good and bad whose one true gift to the world was how they played the game.”
            Duff grew up along the Texas Gulf Coast and the piney woods of East Texas. He studied at the University of Illinois, taught literature and writing at Vanderbilt University, Kenyon College, St. John's College of Oxford University, Rhodes College, and Johns Hopkins University. He has published 13 books, including a memoir and collections of poetry and short stories. “Dirty Rice” is his eighth novel.
            Duff will read from and sign copies of “Dirty Rice” at 1:30 p.m. Friday at the Gaines Center on the third floor of the Dupre Library on the UL campus. He will also sign books at 6 p.m. Friday at the Lafayette Barnes and Noble.
LSU Press lit series receives new editor
            The LSU Press Southern Literary Series continues its History of Distinguished Editorship with scholar Scott Romine, who will become the series editor this fall. Romine is the associate professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and has published two books with LSU Press.
            The series was founded in 1963 by Louis D. Rubin Jr., with Fred Hobson taking the reins in 1993. More than 100 books have appeared under Hobson’s editorship, including Romine’s “The Real South: Southern Narrative in the Age of Cultural Reproduction” and “The Narrative Forms of Southern Community.” LSU Press has published four of Hobson’s 15 books, including “But Now I See: The White Southern Racial Conversion Narrative,” “Tell About the South: The Southern Rage to Explain” and “The Silencing of Emily Mullen and Other Essays.”
            Hobson, the Lineberger Professor in the Humanities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, calls the series “the most significant series in Southern literary studies for the past 40 years.” Its titles have garnered numerous Hugh Holman Awards, given annually by the Society for the Study of Southern Literature for the best book in Southern literary studies.

New releases
            Moira Crone, a former director of the MFA writing program at LSU and author of three short story collections and a novel, has published “The Not Yet,” about a group of people called the “Heirs” who never die leaving the rest of humanity to scrape out of living in a dystopian New Orleans in 2121. The book is published by UNO Press.
             Carolyn Morrow Long takes on the “most haunted house in New Orleans” in “Madame Lalaurie, Mistress of the Haunted House.” When fire broke out in the French Quarter home of Madame Delphine Lalaurie, people found slaves bound and tortured inside. The public was horrified, sending the family from the city and the Lalauries living in exile in France. Today, people claim the Lalaurie mansion is haunted, a regular feature of the city’s ghost tours. A resident of New Orleans and Washington, D.C., Long is retired from the National Museum of American History and the author of “A New Orleans Voudou Priestess: The Legend and Reality of Marie Laveau.”
            Novelist, playwright, storyteller and college instructor Joe Reese of Lafayette has published “And the Flowers Began to Dance: A Novel of Chicago.” Mia Walker, the heroine of the novel, expects to live a quiet life as the docent at The Chicago Art Institute. Instead, she finds herself involved in international art smuggling. For more information and to obtain a copy, visit

New children’s titles
            The amazingly talented William Joyce of Shreveport, known for his animated films and TV series, has published a delightful board book titled “The Man in the Moon,” which explains how the man on our nighttime orb got there in the first place. The book begins Joyce’s “Guardians of Childhood” series, which explain the origins of the Tooth Fairy, Santa and the Sandman, among others, all lovingly illustrated with exquisite attention to detail. These details — celestial maps, tiny creatures in the background, whimsical designs — are what children will pour over, in addition to the story.
            Joyce has also begun “The Guardian” series for young readers. “Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King” is the first in the series, a chapter book explaining the origin of St. Nick, written with Laura Geringer.
            Pelican Publishing of New Orleans has produced two new children’s titles — “The Buzz on Honeybees” by Cathy Kaemmerlen, illustrated by Kathy Coates and “When You’re a Pirate Dog and Other Pirate Poems” by Eric Ode, illustrated by Jim Harris. “Honeybees” extols the incredible virtues of the honeybee while “Pirate Poems” takes kids on a pirate adventure through rhythm.

Book events
            Former Yankees pitcher Ron Guidry will be signing “Driving Mr. Yogi: Yogi Berra, Ron Guidry and Baseball’s Greatest Gift” at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Lafayette Barnes & Noble, 5705 Johnston St. in Lafayette.
            The Lafayette Public Library Foundation will hold its Awards Luncheon and Annual Meeting beginning at 11 a.m. Friday at the City Club at River Ranch. There will be a special screening of the 2012 Academy Award-winning best animated short film, “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” by Moonbot Studios of Shreveport, plus presentations to honorees J.C. Chargois, Foundation Award; Dorothy Stevens, President’s Award; and Broussard, Poche, Lewis & Breaux, LLP, Major Donor Award. Tickets are $30; call Pamela Stroup at 981-3425 or 278 7166.
Cheré Coen is the author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education. Write her at

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Louisiana Poet Laureate Julie Kane celebrates Louisiana Poets

In celebration of National Poetry Month, the State Library of Louisiana’s Center for the Book will present “Just Listen to Yourself: The Louisiana Poet Laureate Presents Louisiana Poets — 2012” from noon to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Seminar Center of the State Library, 701 N. Fourth St. in Baton Rouge. The event will be moderated by Julie Kane, Louisiana Poet Laureate, and include poets Darrell Bourque, Kelly Clayton, Ashley Mace Havird, David Havird, Ava Leavell Haymon, Clemonce Heard, Charles Jolivette, David Middleton, Alison Pelegrin, Michelle Pichon and Gail White. The lunchtime program is free and open to the public. Attendees may bring their lunch and come and go as their schedules allow. The State Library of Louisiana is wheelchair accessible. National Poetry Month is sponsored by the Academy of American Poets, which will celebrate “Poem in Your Pocket Day” on April 26.  For more information, see

New releases           
            Out this week is a book delving into the relationship between Lafayette’s Ron Guidry, who pitched for the New York Yankees and Yogi Berra, the Yankees’ longtime catcher and coach, titled “Driving Mr. Yogi: Yogi Berra, Ron Guidry, and Baseball’s Greatest Gift” by Harvey Araton. The book is an expansion of an article Araton did last year for the New York Times. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said of the book, “Like Ron Guidry, one of the greatest gifts in my career was to become Yogi’s friend. He and Ron are unique Americans and in ‘Driving Mr. Yogi’ readers everywhere will come to see just how special their friendship is.”
            If you’re looking for a great guide to New Orleans with hints on how to save, Huey Pablovich has published “Touring New Orleans on a Shoestring Budget.” Pablovich is a New Orleans tour guide so he has the inside story here and the book is filled with “secrets” he has uncovered, plus photos, contact and location information and historical tidbits. There are also places in the book for readers to include their own thoughts and memories. For more information or to purchase a copy, visit
            John P. Klingman, who teaches architecture at Tulane University and holds the Richard Koch Chair of Architecture, has published “New In New Orleans Architecture,” documenting 80 examples of contemporary architecture in the Crescent City from the past 15 years.
            Robert Olmstead, a professor at Ohio Wesleyan University, has published “The Coldest Night,” a combination war novel and love story. The book follows Henry, a young man in 1950 West Virginia, as he falls for a wealthy young woman and runs away with her to New Orleans.
            Bernard Koloski, a professor of English at Mansfield University in Pennsylvania, has been writing about Kate Chopin for more than 30 years. He’s recently edited “Awakenings: The Story of the Kate Chopin Revival.” Chopin was a novelist from the Natchitoches area who caused controversy with her 1899 novel, “The Awakening.” Koloski’s book contains 12 essays by scholars who have studied Chopin, including Thomas Bonner Jr. of Xavier in New Orleans, Lynda S. Boren who teaches in the Louisiana gifted program, Barbara Ewell of Loyola and Emily Toth, who teaches English and women’s studies at LSU.
            Lawrence N. Powell examines the placement of a city within a swamp that later became one of America’s most important ports in “The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans.”
            Diane Castle will donate part of the Kindle sales of her thriller “Black Oil, Red Blood” to Gulf People Helping People, a Louisiana Environmental Action Network project to help those affected by the BP oil spill. The book is the fictional account of attorney Chloe Taylor and her fight against Big Oil industry giant PetroPlex. You can view a sample chapter at and purchase the book at

Book events
            Suzanne Johnson of New Orleans will sign copies of “Royal Street” at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans. “Royal Street” is a new urban fantasy series set in New Orleans.
            Lafayette’s South Regional Library presents “Clovis Crawfish and Etienne Escargot,” adapted from the book by children's author, Mary Alice Fontenot, at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and 11 a.m. Saturday.
            Ben Sandmel will debut his book, “Ernie K-Doe: The R and B Emperor of New Orleans,” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Historic New Orleans Collection, 533 Royal St. in New Orleans. The book is the second volume in the Collection’s Louisiana Musicians Biography Series. The first was Harold Battiste’s “Unfinished Blues.” The Historic New Orleans Collection will also present its 13th annual Bill Russell Lecture on Friday titled “Reflections of Bechet, A New Orleans Jazz Original: The Man and the Music” by historian Bruce Raeburn. For more information, visit
Cheré Coen is the author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education. Write her at