From the Publisher
Advance Praise for Commander's Kitchen
"A delicious combination of Commander's classics and Chef Jamie's flavor and flair! What a restaurant! What a family!"
--Chef Emeril Lagasse
"For the very same reasons that Commander's Palace is a great, classic restaurant, Commander's Kitchen is a winner of a cookbook. It's generous in sharing recipes that are enormously appealing and user-friendly with a healthy seasoning of spunk and soul."
--Danny Meyer, coauthor of The Union Square Cafe Cookbook
"Step through the doors of Commander's Kitchen and celebrate the magical hospitality and vibrant cooking of New Orleans. The book's intoxicating imagery and seductive recipes will have you licking your lips in anticipation of Commander's tantalizing tastes. Chef Jamie Shannon is a fish expert extraordinaire, and his well-seasoned tips will lure you into the kitchen to create your own show-stopping memories."
--Leslie Beal Bloom, coauthor of Seafood Cooking for Dummies
"The Commander's Palace tradition of excellence, savored by so many generations during the last century, has been elegantly and clearly written for the new century in a book that defines, explains, and demonstrates New Orleans cooking at its best--Commander's Kitchen is for old-timers and newcomers alike, a feast for everybody."
-Peter Feibleman, author of American Cooking: Creole and Acadian
"One of my all-time favorite gastronomic destinations in the United States is New Orleans and Commander's Palace is, of course, at the top of my list of places to dine. Bravo Ti and Jamie for translating the culinary tradition of the legendary Brennan family into a book that the home cook can both enjoy reading and cooking from."
--Daniel Boulud, chef/owner of Restaurant Daniel and Cafe Boulud
Commander's Palace is a New Orleans landmark, known throughout the country for its "haute Creole" cuisine and exuberant hospitality. Martin is the manager and daughter of Ella Brennan, whose name, with her brother Dick's, is most closely associated with the restaurant's success (the Brennan clan has been in charge of the restaurant since 1946); Shannon has been the chef there for 16 years. Martin's readable text, offering background and family history, conveys the warmth that is one of the restaurant's hallmarks; Shannon provides the recipes, accompanied by numerous chef's tips. There are standards like New Orleans-Style Barbecue Shrimp, as well as newer dishes served to diners at special "Chef's Table" dinners, and even favorites from staff meals. Highly recommended. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Read an Excerpt
Cocktails, Eye-openers, and Other Drinks
It has been said that New Orleans, surrounded on all sides by rivers, lakes, and marshes, owes its very existence to liquid. And left to the whims of Mother Nature, New Orleans would have vanished long ago, overtaken by the powerful Mississippi River, were it not for the Army Corps of Engineers, which changed the river's course.
Yet to many New Orleanians, there is another liquid history. You think New Orleans' greatest contribution to the world was jazz? How about the cocktail? It goes back to the French Quarter apothecaries of the 1790s, when, legend has it, A. A. Peychaud began adding his family's secret formula for bitters to brandy and dispensing it at his family's pharmacy.
"Join me in the bar for a cocktail," says my mother, Ella Brennan, to friends or friends of friends she greets at the door at Commander's Palace. The offer lies somewhere between a spontaneous suggestion and a command; but, nevertheless it's an offer that almost no one has ever refused and none has ever regretted. Mother has been on a lifelong mission to make sure as many people as possible experience the real New Orleans-her New Orleans. And that means your meal begins with a cocktail. And if you hesitate for even a moment when she asks what you'd like to drink, she'll probably say, "How about a Sazerac? You have to try a Sazerac." (If it's brunch, she'll probably say, "How about a Milk Punch?")
And so it begins-telling stories of old times and making new memories. She begins to weave the spell. People happily fall victim to her take on how life should be lived in her New Orleans.
The bar at Commander's Palace is small, squeezed between the kitchen and the patio with windows onto both. And like so many things at Commander's Palace, it just works, even though it's often crowded. In the 1970s, many American bars became automated, with machines dispensing the liquor to control costs. I remember our parents frowning on that, telling how a good restaurant gives a good solid freehand pour. And real bartenders flip, stir, and shake to get their froth. After all, it's all part of the show. We like to see a French 75 poured through a fancy strainer and a Ramos Gin Fizz shaken in a cocktail shaker with drama and flair before it gets strained into a cocktail glass. Now, if you add to that recipe a couple of tall tales and true tales, well, as we like to say, "That's what living in New Orleans is all about."
Cocktails are back-again. The fun of ordering a martini, a French 75, a stinger, a Cosmopolitan, or a Sazerac is back. For most of New Orleans, it never really left. This chapter is filled with our favorites-old and new. Cheers.
Brandy Milk Punch
makes 6 cocktails
Brandy Milk Punch is a smooth drink that helps soothe that morning-after feeling but is just as popular for brunches and Christmas gatherings. I also learned how nice and rejuvenating it is on my Mardi Gras float, where a gallon of Commander's Palace Brandy Milk Punch was the perfect boost during five hours of throwing beads to the crowd. Before long, various float-mates had joined in, and my punch consumption was up to 4 gallons. Years ago, one of them, a Mrs. Slatten, asked for a refill. When I apologetically told her there was no more, she got out her cell phone and sent her car and driver to Commander's Palace for a fresh supply. The driver met our float on the parade route and restocked us. A tradition lived on.
11/2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
12 ounces bourbon
1 egg white (optional)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup very cold water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Nutmeg to taste
Combine the milk, cream, bourbon, egg white, sugar, water, and vanilla in a large pitcher. Stir well, or, if you have a lid, shake. Serve in rocks glasses and sprinkle each cocktail with some nutmeg.
makes 1 drink
To quote Chef Jamie, "Our Bloody Mary is kick-ass." We use homemade horseradish, homemade Worcestershire, fresh vegetable juice, and pickled peppers (marinating in a huge wine barrel in the middle of the kitchen). We dip the rim of the glass into Creole seasonings, and we top off the drink with a splash of vodka from a bottle frozen into a block of ice that's carried to your table-with all eyes in the dining room following it. Now that's a Bloody Mary!
11/2 ounces vodka
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish, any color
1 teaspoon or 2 splashes Worcestershire sauce (homemade, if possible, page 305)
2 dashes Garden Hot Sauce (page 302) or hot sauce of your choice
1/2 cup vegetable juice or tomato juice
Creole Seafood Seasoning (ours, page 294, or store-bought), to taste
1 medium-sized pickled pepper, skewered with sugar cane or toothpick (see Note)
1 medium-sized piece pickled okra, skewered with sugarcane or toothpick (see Note)
Place ice cubes in an Old Fashioned glass until it's two-thirds full. Add the vodka, horseradish, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and vegetable juice. Cover the glass with a shaker, shake well, then let rest in the shaker. Wet the rim of the glass and coat the entire rim with Creole seasoning. Pour the drink back into the glass and garnish with the pepper and okra.
Note: Although at Commander's we use sugarcane for our skewers, outside of our region you may not be able to buy it very readily, so skewer with toothpicks instead.
Chef Jamie's Tips
I use canned vegetable juice when I don't have access to freshly squeezed juice. If you like extra seasoning, as I do, season the top of the drink with a few grindings of freshly milled pepper and a sprinkling of kosher salt. (An Old Fashioned glass is another name for a rocks glass. Any 12-ounce cocktail glass will do the job.)