Thursday, October 31, 2013

Cookbook Thursday: Poppy Tooker's Louisiana tour

            New Orleans native Poppy Tooker loves Louisiana food. She promotes it weekly on her radio show, “Louisiana Eats!,” now airing at 4 p.m. Saturdays on KRVS in Lafayette. She’s been proclaimed a “Hero of the New South” by Southern Living magazine and gave Bobby Flay a run for his money when her gumbo beats his in “Throwdown with Bobby Flay.”
            Tooker’s new cookbook, “Louisiana Eats! The People, the Food and Their Stories” has just been published by Pelican Publishing of New Orleans and contains 15 interviews from her radio show, with recipes of course, plus photographs by David G. Spielman. Interviewees include Chef Leah Chase of Dooky Chase, Randy Fertel, son of Ruth Chris Steakhouse founder Ruth Fertel and, locally, Karlos Knott of Bayou Teche Brewing and Kurt Unkel of Cajun Grain.           
            Like most New Orleanians writing cookbooks, it leans more toward the Crescent City and would be more aptly named “New Orleans Eats!” But if you love reading about Louisianans who love Louisiana food, this cookbook’s for you.
            Below is a recipe contributed to the book by Knott, a more filling take on a traditional Cajun nighttime meal.

Cornbread Supper
From “Louisiana Eats! The People, the Food and Their Stories”
1 12-inch skillet of cornbread
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 pound smoked sausage, diced (feel free to substitute or combine with andouille, tasso, ham or shrimp, as desired)
1/4 cup butter
3 cloves, garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 cups chicken stock, plus additional if needed
            Directions: Crumble the cornbread in a large bowl. In a skillet, sauté the onion, celery, bell pepper, green onions, and sausage in the butter until onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme.
            Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour sausage mixture into the bowl with the cornbread and add salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste, parsley and chicken stock. Stir to mix and add more chicken stock only if the mixture is not moist enough. Adjust seasonings if needed.
            Spread the cornbread mixture in an 11-inch by 7-inch lightly greased baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for about 20 minutes, remove the foil, and bake uncovered for an additional 15 minutes.

Book events
      Kat Robinson will sign copies of her new travelogue cookbook, "Classic Eateries of the Ozarks and Arkansas River Valley," at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans. Robinson is the author of "Arkansas Pie: A Delicious Slice of the Natural State," which I reviewed for the Monroe News-Star earlier this year and the Acadiana Gazette in Lafayette.

Cheré Coen is a Lafayette freelance travel and food writer. She is the author of “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Tour of Historic Acadiana,” both from The History Press.