Sunday, November 18, 2012

A taste of HBO and more for the holidays

            The holidays start Thursday and it’s time to bring out the cookbooks for inspiration. Looking for something new? Here’s a list of some hot new cookbooks.
             Acadiana’s Marcelle Bienvenu is a cookbook veteran, with numerous titles to her credit, so it makes sense they would ask her to create one to complement the HBO series, “True Blood.” Based on the vampire novels by Charlaine Harris and taking place in a town called Bon Temps, Louisiana, “True Blood” deals with not only vampires, but werewolves, witches, shapeshifters and fairies.
            The cookbook plays on these characters, accented by photos from the series. In fact, the characters are the ones offering Southern and Louisiana recipes and writing each recipe’s introduction. There’s werewolf Alcide Herveaux’s “Stake and Eggs” and vampire hater Maxine Fortenberry’s “Drop-Dead Tuna-Cheese Casserole.”
            “True Blood: Eats, Drinks and Bites from Bon Temps” is a must for show fans and perfect for entertaining. Now if they can just improve on that last season…
            Spotlighting another popular HBO series, “Tremé,” Cajun and Creole foodie Todd-Michael St. Pierre has penned a fun cookbook and homage to the New Orleans neighborhood with “Taste of Treme: Creole, Cajun, and Soul Food from New Orleans’ Famous Neighborhood of Jazz.”
             The book is full of tantalizing recipes, photos and tidbits of New Orleans culture, music, history and more. Recipes range from traditional dishes such as Creole gumbo, beignets and poboys to Congo Square steak with lump crab béarnaise sauce and Purple Haze (Abita beer) pork tenderloin.
            On Nov. 24 St. Pierre will sign copies of his cookbook at noon at the Healing Center, 2372 St. Claude Ave., and at 6 p.m. at Maple Street Book Shop, in New Orleans. He will also sign from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 25 at Barnes & Noble in Harvey and at 5 p.m. Dec. 14 at Barnes & Noble in Lafayette.
            New Orleans foodie Kit Wohl has been compiling the city’s favorites in a cookbook series by Pelican Publishing. Her latest is “New Orleans Classic Cocktails: Spirited Recipes,” containing cocktail samples from the city’s restaurants, hotels and nightspots. Many of the recipes are traditional New Orleans cocktails, such as the sazarac and the Ramos gin fizz, while others stretch the imagination.
             A few others to consider are:
            “Roots” by Diane Morgan, a cookbook that honors root vegetables.
            “Canal House Cooking, Vol. No. 7: La Dolce Vita” by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer, former magazine editors who cook together every weekday in their New Jersey Studio. “Vol. 7” celebrates Italian cooking and the authors’ travels through Italy.
            “The Cracker Book: Artisanal Crackers for Every Occasion” by Lee Cart is a great idea book for holiday entertaining.
            Tasia Malakasis combines Southern and Greek flavors at her small fromagerie in rural Alabama and she celebrates both in “Tasia’s Table: Cooking with the Artisan Cheesemaker at Belle Chèvre.”
            “The Game Cook: Inspired Recipes for Pheasant, Partridge, Duck, Deer, Rabbit and More” by Norman Tebbit, which includes instructions on game preparation, anecdotes and illustrations.           

Genealogy books
             Cathy (Lemoine) Sturgell, a native of New Orleans now living in Tennessee, has self-published “Long Journey Home: The Ancestry of the Bret, Coco, Drapeau, Goudeau, Gremillon and Tassin Families in France.” According to the author, the book contains undiscovered, unpublished information on these six families in France. 
            “I am directly descended from all of these families and many middle/Southern Louisiana residents with French-Creole ancestry are descended from one or more of these families,” Sturgell wrote me by email. “Included in the book is 175 years of the ancestry of Louisiana progenitor, Dominique Coco, in his native Italy (now France).”
             Sturgell performed years of research through the Catholic sacramental records in France, she said, and each chapter in the 174-page book begins with the Louisiana progenitor of one of these families and contains copies of the sacramental records used to establish lineage.
            For more information on the book, visit
            Carol Mills-Nichol has published “The Forgotten Jews of Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana,” analyzing the Jewish men and women who settled in central Louisiana as early as the 1830s. The book is 610 pages with 45 illustrations and index and published by Janaway Publication.s.
            The families documented also include those who went on to settle in Winn, Rapides, St. Landry, Evangeline, Lafayette and Grant parishes. Most were formerly from Alsace, Bavaria, and later, Poland, Russia, and Austria-Hungary, the author states, and included merchants, farmers, slave owners, Confederate soldiers, mayors, constables, aldermen and builders and owners of shortline railroads.
            Some of the earliest settlers were Maurice Fortlouis, Adolph and Charles Frank, Abe Felsenthal, Sam and Alex Haas, Simon, Leopold and David Siess, Isaac Lehmann and  Leopold and Lazard Goudchaux.
            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