Monday, November 26, 2012

More cookbook ideas for holiday giving

             Call it the Thanksgiving hangover or the prospect of more holiday eating, but I have food on the brain, which means more cookbooks to write about. If you’re not into cooking, however, you may consider these for Christmas gifts.
            Pediatrician Dr. Ellen Bass of New Orleans and her niece, Sophia Khan, have penned their first cookbook, “Students Go Gourmet: Simple Gourmet for Everyday,” which includes an instructional DVD in which the authors guide readers through 13 recipes. Bass attended Tulane, as well as Yale and Georgetown, and Khan is a recent graduate of Yale and Harvard. Their cookbook relates their experiences of meeting the challenges of eating healthy under demanding school schedules. 
            Each chapter of the cookbook features a “Students Go Gourmet” twist on a classic New Orleans recipe and a portion of the cookbook’s sale of the book will benefit the Ninth Ward Redevelopment Efforts. Some of the New Orleans recipes contained in the cookbook include chocolate cayenne ice cream sandwiches, shrimp étouffée, crab Bechamel pizza, eggs Benedict and andouille Pappardelle.
             Alex Hitz combines his origins growing up in Atlanta with working with the world’s chefs in his new cookbook, “My Beverly Hills Kitchen: Classic Southern Cooking with a French Twist.” He offers elegant recipes and dishes but in a simplified format. The heirloom tomato pie would scare me off in an instant, but his step-by-step instructions and photos make it look easy.
            New Orleans is well represented here as well. He offers his personal take on Galatoire’s egg Sardou and remoulade sauce and Commander’s Palace’s bread pudding, adding a vanilla bourbon sauce.
            Hitz will be signing copies of his cookbook from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday at the Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans.
            Elizabeth Kettenring Dutrey Bégué ran Madame Bégué’s restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans and served one meal between breakfast and lunch. In 1900 she published a collection of dishes from her handwritten notes, one of the first New Orleans cookbooks ever published. The book was modernized and republished in 1937 and included recipes from other city cooks, such as Victor Bero from Victor’s Restaurant, later called Galatoire’s.
             Radio and TV food personality Poppy Tooker has revised Madame Bégué’s recipes and written the foreword of “Mme. Bégué’s Recipes of Old New Orleans Creole Cookery,” a reissue of the book now out by Pelican Publishing. The young German woman’s recipes live on and the restaurant she once oversaw is now Tujague’s Restaurant.
            Attention foodies! The South Regional Library will host a cookbook swap from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Bring a cookbook to the library and swap with others.

Words & Music
            Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society’s Words & Music 2012 begins Wednesday and runs through Dec. 2 in New Orleans. This year, the Society’s free Big Read will feature “A Lesson Before Dying” by award-winning Louisiana author Ernest J. Gaines.
            Gaines will be interviewed by Grammy winner and trumpeter Irvin Mayfield, author of “A Love Letter to New Orleans,” at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at Tulane University’s Dixon Hall as part of “Using Fiction to Get at the Truth.” Mayfield is creating new music based on the Gaines’ work which will be premiered during “A Lesson Before Dying” Big Read on Friday at the recently renovated Joy Theatre on Canal Street in New Orleans. The following Master Class will be introduced and moderated by playwright and novelist Hal Clark.
            There will be readings and discussions by poets and authors, live drama, literary premieres and master classes, a tailgating event with Southern humorist and Saints fan Ray Blount Jr., among other events.
            For more information and a schedule of events, visit

River of Words
            River of Words (ROW), the world’s largest youth poetry and art competition, is accepting submissions to its 18th annual environmental poetry and art contest, sponsored in affiliation with The Library of Congress Center for the Book. Students from kindergarten through 12th grade are invited to create poetry and/or art about the places they live. They may enter on their own or under the tutelage of a teacher or youth leader, or as part of a group. The deadline is Dec. 1.
            The contest is free to enter and entry forms may be downloaded from the organization’s website at
Author’s Alley
            One of the best presents you can give another is the gift of reading. A book opens the mind to endless possibilities.
            And yes, it keeps writers like me from the bread lines. 
             This Saturday, the South Regional Library will host an Author’s Alley from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. with local authors (me included) selling books. There will be Camilla Hunt Cole signing “Mesquite,” Andy Hebert signing “Christmas on a Bayou,” Genie Summers signing “Our Family’s Book of Acts” and I will be signing my travel guidebook “Exploring Cajun Country: A Tour of Historic Acadiana.”
            Hebert and I will be signing books, as well as John Morella (“Give Teens a Break” and “A Guide For Effective Psychotherapy”) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at the North Regional Branch Library in Carencro.

Book events
            Michael Allen Zell will read and sign copies of “Errata” at 6 p.m. Thursday at
Maple Street Bookstore in uptown New Orleans.
            The South Regional Library of Lafayette will host a cookbook swap from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Also at the library, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., is a reading of “The Night Before Christmas” by Mrs. Claus.
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