Tag Archives: Creole

Chef John Besh Visits Fairhope, Alabama to Promote New Cookbook, “My Family Table”

10 Dec

Chef John Besh has made quite a name for himself here along the Gulf Coast. His culinary empire is based out of New Orleans, yet he is truly all over the globe these days. One day you see him as a judge on Top Chef, the next you might spot him on Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate, then you see him whipping up something tasty on NBC’s Today Show. When not appearing on TV or running his nine (yes, NINE!) acclaimed restaurants, Besh somehow finds time to re-connect with his family and knock out a few cookbooks. They may have successfully cloned this guy — I can’t be sure.  

Besh’s latest cookbook project is a marriage of his love for food and family. It’s titled “My Family Table … A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking.” We can totally relate to this sentiment around our household. Sure, we still love to dine out. But it is increasingly difficult to find a quality meal at a fair price. A meal out for a family of 4 can put a pretty sizeable dent in the old family grocery budget.

This “coffee table” book is well-over 250 pages and features some truly beautiful photography. The publisher (Andrews McMeel) should be quite pleased with the end result. It is a terrific collection of recipes and a fine Christmas gift for that hard-to-buy-for foodie on your shopping list. The book retails for $35.

We recently met Chef Besh and his wife at Page & Palette in our current hometown of Fairhope, AL. He was kind enough to sign our copy, which will surely become a staple in our already massive home collection of Southern-themed cookbooks. Besh, a former US Marine, reveals some of his favorite Louisiana products/ingredients. No secrets here, friends. He loves Steen’s 100% Cane Syrup, but who doesn’t? Some more surprising items found in his home pantry include Virgin Pecan Oil, Hoisin Sauce, Coconut Milk, and Sambal Paste. Yup, his kitchen mastery and tastes certainly extend beyond the bayous of his beloved home state of Louisiana.

The 140 recipes included here, much like Besh himself, bounce all over the map. Risotto, Fruit Crumble,  Couscous, Pork Shoulder, Ratatouille, Coq Au Vin, Corn Pudding, Chili, and Beef Noodle Bowls. Dishes sampled at the book signing were a Cauliflower Mac and Cheese, Jambalaya, and a Seafood Dressing. The Bird’s Nest Potatoes look simple, but delicious. Let’s call the overall theme of this volume Cajun/Asian with the common denominators being big flavor with a little bit of heat. The Creamy Lentil Soup (laced with diced bacon) would surely hit the spot on a cold winter’s day.

There are desserts too. Don’t miss the Lemon-Blackberry Cheesecake. The full page, full color image of this creation will have you drooling, for sure. The Bananas Flambe, an obvious nod to his love of New Orleans, is fueled with dark rum and accented with orange zest, cinnamon, and a sprinkle of fresh ground nutmeg. The execution of this dish is not for amateurs, but it will surely draw oooo’s and ahhhh’s at your next dinner party.

John Besh and his wife Jenifer love Fairhope. They made that clear during our brief but enjoyable chat. We, in turn, appreciate them making time to slow down and enjoy our little piece of heaven. Talk radio host Glenn Beck recently said visiting Fairhope was a little like being on the set of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It is indeed a life full of wonder. And John Besh wants you to make it even more wonderful by focusing on family and hearty home cooked meals. And, as Paul McCartney once sang, “What’s wrong with that?”

www.chefjohnbesh.com

www.andrewsmcmeel.com

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New Book on Tabasco legend

3 Mar

tabasco

We received a wonderful new book from University of Mississippi Press yesterday. It is a beautiful coffee table volume detailing the long and glorious history of my favorite condiment — Tabasco hot sauce. The writers have obviously done their research and the book is filled with amazing photos and period pieces of all kinds. Don’t miss this one if you’re looking for a red-hot read!

Here is the product description from Amazon.com …

Tabasco®: An Illustrated History is the first and only book about the McIlhenny family and company based on previously untapped documents in the McIlhenny Company Archives. This chronicle examines the origin of Tabasco® sauce, from its post-Civil War creation on Avery Island, Louisiana, to its evolution into the “gold standard” of pepper sauces and a global culinary icon.

It also examines the often stranger-than-fiction stories that are inexorably bound up with the rise of Tabasco®–Edmund McIlhenny’s creation of the sauce in the midst of Reconstruction- era economic ruin; John Avery McIlhenny’s adventures in Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders volunteer cavalry regiment; Edward Avery McIlhenny’s explorations in the unforgiving Arctic; and Walter S. McIlhenny’s amazing heroics in World War II, which eventually secured him the rank of brigadier general, even as he modernized his family business and ensured its success into the late twentieth century.

In addition to the central narrative, Tabasco®: An Illustrated History contains numerous detailed sidebars, as well as over a dozen historical recipes selected from handwritten McIlhenny family cookbooks and other archival sources. This book boasts hundreds of fascinating photographs, both in color and black-and-white, many of which are previously unpublished.