Big Easy, made easy: Merge Creole creativity with fresh seafood

"Gulf seafood is as safe to eat now as it was before the spill."
Some two years after the April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico oil spill, language such as this reflects the prevailing sentiments of experts like Michael R. Taylor, J.D., Deputy Commissioner for Foods at the Food and Drug Administration (


These kinds of reassuring updates makes diving headfirst into Gretna, Louisiana-based Pelican Publishing Company's newly released "Broussard's Restaurant & Courtyard Cookbook,"  by food historian Ann Benoit and the Preuss Family, and "New Orleans Classic Brunches: Recipes from Favorite Restaurants," by award-winning writer, photographer and artist Kit Wohl, joyful -- not just for those of us who enjoy eating Gulf seafood, but also for the folks who create recipes and for the fishing industry who supplies it.

If you are not a stranger to New Orleans, chances are you've eaten in several of the restaurant greats featured in the 96-page "New Orleans Classic Brunches," among them Arnaud's, Brennan's, Commander's Place and, of course, the legendary Dooky Chase, owned by the Queen of Creole Cuisine herself, Chef Leah Chase.

Included within the 50 recipes to appear in Wohl's book, is Chef Leah's "Breakfast Shrimp & Baked Cheese Grits," a dish that was enjoyed by then President George Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon while visiting Dookey Chase's during the North American Leaders' Summit, in April of 2008.

Broussard's Restaurant & Courtyard has also seen its share of famous visitors, perhaps none more so than Pope John II, who dined on restaurant chef-owner Gunter Preuss' "Crawfish Broussard," in September of 1987.

Besides Preuss' crawfish recipe, Benoit's coffee table worthy cookbook also contains many other original recipes, 70 in all, for signature dishes like Crabmeat Broussard (served with Spinach Herbsaint), Salmon Jean Lafitte, Duckling Andreas Preuss and Poached Pears Madame Preuss, named by Chef Preuss for his wife, Evelyn.

For further information about these titles, their authors and how to purchase, visit the Pelican Publishing Company website at, or call 1-800-843-1724.

Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at

Breakfast Shrimp & Baked Cheese Grits

By Chef-Owner Leah Chase, Dooky Chase

Recipe courtesy "New Orleans Classic Brunches: Recipes from Favorite Restaurants," by Kit Wohl; Pelican Publishing Company, Photography by Kit Wohl and William Jones Miller

Nationally known as the Queen of Creole Cuisine, Dooky Chase chef-owner Leah Chase has been cooking for more than 50 years. In 1946, Leah married Dooky Chase, Jr., and went to work in the restaurant owned by her husband's parents. Through the years, Leah transformed the menu to reflect her own family's Creole roots.  

4 tomatoes (very ripe)
1 quart boiling water
1 (4-ounce) stick unsalted butter
1/2  cup onion, diced
1/2  cup bell peppers, diced
2 cloves fresh garlic, fine chopped
2 pounds medium to large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 recipe baked cheese and grits (recipe follows)

In a 2 quart sized pot 1/2 full, bring water to a boil. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, dip tomatoes into the boiling water for 15 to 20 seconds. Remove, rinse under cold water, slide off peels, core, seed and chop. Set aside. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions, green peppers and garlic. Stir (saute) until onions are transparent (clear). Add tomatoes, shrimp, and paprika, salt, cayenne pepper and basil leaves. Stir 10 minutes or until shrimp are cooked (pink throughout). Serve over grits and garnish with chopped parsley. Serves 6.
NOTE: Heads on unpeeled shrimp are about 1/3 to 1/2 more weight than peeled shrimp.

Baked Grits and Cheese
4 cups water
1 cup quick grits
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, bring water to a rolling boil. In a steady stream, add grits and salt, stirring occasionally and boil for 10 to 15 minutes until just done. In a separate bowl, mix together milk, egg and cheese. Add to grits, stirring well until cheese has completely melted. Using a medium-sized buttered baking dish, pour in mixture and bake for 15 minutes. Serves 6.

Crabmeat Broussard

By Chef-Owner Gunter Preuss, Broussard's Restaurant and Courtyard

Recipe courtesy "Broussard's Restaurant & Courtyard Cookbook," by Ann Benoit and the Preuss Family; Pelican Publishing Company, Photography by Ann Benoit and Janine Joffe.

1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 small Creole yellow onion, diced*
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups Poulet Leek Stock (recipe follows)
1 cup heavy cream
3 ounces Brie, white rind removed and cubed
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3 tablepoons whole fresh thyme leaves
3/4 pound jumbo lump crabmeat
1 recipe Spinach Herbsaint (recipe follows)

To make bread crumb mixture: in a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, olive oil and thyme. Reserve. To make the shrimp, first remove the head, leaving the tail shell intact. Reserve heads for stock. Devein by making a shallow cut atop the tail and removing and discarding the black intestinal tract with the sharp point of a knife or skewer. Butterfly the shrimp by placing sideways and slitting underbelly, inside of curl to within one-quarter inch of tail. Using hands, open two sides of curl and flatten. In a large skillet or saute pan over medium heat, melt butter. Saute shrimp until barely cooked, about 1 minute. Reserve.
To make brie cream sauce: in a large skillet or saute pan over medium, heat olive oil. Add artichoke hearts, garlic and onion. Saute until onion is translucent, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle flour into onions, stirring continuously for 1 minute. Deglaze the plan with white wine. Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Add cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stand 3 minutes. Add brie, stirring until all brie is melted. Remove from heat and cool. When brie cream sauce has cooled, fold in crabmeat. Do not break crabmeat lumps apart. Preheat oven to 400 degrees in one ovenproof serving dish per serving, center one shrimp so that it stands. Surround shrimp with crabmeat mixture. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Repeat for each serving. Place serving dishes on a large backing sheet. Bake until crab is hot and bubbly, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Poulet Leek Stock
2 quarts water
4  to 5 pounds chicken parts
2 cups leek light greens, roughly chopped
1 cup parsley stems
2 medium Creole yellow onions*
2 bay leaves
2 medium onions, halved
3 carrots
To a large stockpot over medium high heat, add water and chicken. Simmer for 90 minutes, skimming regularly. Add leak, parsley, creole onions, bay leaves, onions and carrots and simmer for 3 hours. Drain, reserving liquids and cook. May be refrigerated or frozen. Note: To make poulet stock, omit leeks. Yield:   2 quarts. Kitchen Ade Note: Creole yellow onions are pungent yellow onions.

Spinach Herbsaint
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
1 small Creole yellow onion, diced*
2 pounds fresh chopped spinach, drained
2  tablespoons Herbsaint*
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup strong chicken stock
Salt and white pepper
1/2 teaspoon Louisiana-style hot sauce

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

To a medium saucepan over medium heat, add onions and butter. Saute onions until translucent. Add garlic, spinach, Herbsaint, wine and chicken stock and stir. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt, pepper and hot sauce. To make roux: In a second small saucepan, heat butter and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add roux to spinach mix thoroughly. Cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Using a food processor  or blender, puree. Reheat, adjust seasonings and serve. Serves 6 to 8.

Kitchen Ade Note:  Herbsaint in an anise-flavored liqueur created in New Orleans by J.M. Legendre and Reginald Parker in 1933. Today it is owned by the New Orleans' Sazerac Company, established in 1850.  Substitutes for  Herbsaint include Pernod or anisette.
Creole yellow onions are pungent yellow onions.


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