LaBelle Cuisine: Recipes to Sing About

( 18 )

Overview

"From the time I was a little girl, I knew there were two things in this world I was born to do: sing and cook. I've spent my life developing my voice and my recipes, and to tell you the truth, I'm hard pressed to say where I'm happiest--in concert or in the kitchen, making music or making meals."

For Patti, cooking is about love. Taught by the great Southern cooks in her family--her mother, father, and aunts Hattie Mae and Joshia Mae--Patti LaBelle has kept these family heirlooms close to her heart. But now, she...

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Overview

"From the time I was a little girl, I knew there were two things in this world I was born to do: sing and cook. I've spent my life developing my voice and my recipes, and to tell you the truth, I'm hard pressed to say where I'm happiest--in concert or in the kitchen, making music or making meals."

For Patti, cooking is about love. Taught by the great Southern cooks in her family--her mother, father, and aunts Hattie Mae and Joshia Mae--Patti LaBelle has kept these family heirlooms close to her heart. But now, she invites you into her kitchen and serves up more than 100 of her favorite recipes, from treasured down-home favorites--Say-My-Name Smothered Chicken and Gravy, Fierce Fried Corn, and Aunt Hattie's Scrumptious Sweet Tater Bread--to good-enough-for-dinner-parties dishes--Shrimp Etouffée, Roast Leg of Lamb with Rosemary-Lemon Rub, and Aunt Mary's Philadelphia Buttercake.

Wherever Patti goes, so do her electric frying pans and bottles of hot sauce. After her raise-the-roof shows, she often goes back to her hotel room and whips up a meal for her band or celebrity visitors. When she's home--at holiday time and at family gatherings--or just after one of her sold-out concert tours, Patti likes nothing more than to head for her kitchen and cook her Geechee Geechee Ya Ya Gumbo, Pass-It-On Pot Roast, or Burnin' Babyback Ribs. And like her bestselling memoir, Don't Block the Blessings, her accompanying personal reminiscences will fill your heart just as her recipes will fill your stomach.

Patti LaBelle's LaBelle Cuisine has the recipes you'll want to cook, eat, and share with friends. Filled with the legendary diva's favorite dishes and step-by-step instructions on how to prepare them, LaBelle Cuisine makes you feel like Patti's in the kitchen with you, demonstrating the recipes and techniques that can turn anybody into a fabulous cook.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for LaBelle Cuisine:

"She can cook!"
--Bill Cosby

"Voulez-vous mangez avec moi ce soir?  Oui!  Oui!"
--Cyndi Lauper

"Patti is one of those great women:  warm, accessible, and talented.  This book is filled with wonderful anecdotes, making you feel like you're part of the family.  The food is so good it makes you want to say, 'Hey, Patti, how about inviting me over for dinner?'  Maybe Geechee Geechee Ya Ya Gumbo!  YUM!"
--Suzanne Somers

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"From the time I was a little girl," says LaBelle, "I knew there were two things in this world I was born to do: sing and cook." Admirers of LaBelle's Grammy-winning vocal style are sure to find her Southern dishes just as dynamic. Starting with such chapters as Sensational Salads, Soups, and Sandwiches, she cooks and talks her way through Meat, Poultry and Seafood entrees, Fabulous Fixin's and To-Die-For Desserts and Breads. Her famous jalapeno-spiked Potato Salad, Pass-It-On Pot Roast, Screamin' Mean Greens and Wicked Peach Cobbler make colorful appearances, along with practical cooking tips and plenty of exuberant attitude. This is high-style down-home cooking, sophisticated, flavorful, mostly calorie-laden and generally irresistible; the fact that Patti has fixed her Luscious Liver and Onions and Over the Rainbow Macaroni and Cheese for the likes of Mick Jagger, Oprah and Elton John just adds to the fun. LaBelle (author of the bestselling autobiography Don't Block the Blessings) believes in cooking for pleasure and therapy: as she says, "Usually when people are stressed out they want a pill, but honey, give me a pot!" Readers will want one, too, by the end of this book, for LaBelle's enthusiasm is infectious.
Gourmet Observer
If cooking is an expression of love, then LaBelle Cuisine is a lovely, heartwarming tribute to those who inspired and adored her.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780767903141
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/28/1999
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 245,450
  • Product dimensions: 7.70 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

Patti LaBelle has garnered three Emmy nominations, ten Grammy nominations, and the 1992 Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal performance. Her award-winning autobiography, Don't Block the Blessings, was a New York Times bestseller. Throughout her career, "the high priestess of good vibrations," as the New York Times called her, has won admiration not only for her music but also for her tireless charity work and devotion to her fans. She lives with her husband in Philadelphia.

Laura B. Randolph is a journalist and lawyer. She coauthored Don't Block the Blessings, which won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work and was voted the Blackboard: African-American Bestseller List Book of the Year. She lives in Washington, D.C.

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Read an Excerpt

Introduction

From the time I was a little girl, I knew there were two things in this world I was born to do: sing and cook. I've spent my life developing my voice and my recipes and, to tell you the truth, I'm hard pressed to say where I'm happiest--in concert or in the kitchen; making music or making meals. Whether cooking or singing, I feel at ease, at peace, at one with the world.

While reminiscing for this book, I realized why cooking has always been such a labor of love for me. Because it's as much about friendship and fellowship as it is about food. Because, behind the whole process--the shopping, the planning, the preparing, the serving--cooking is really about love. Cooking is a way to show it, share it, serve it. Cooking is as much about nourishment for the soul as it is the stomach.

Especially the kind of cooking I grew up on. We're talking Southern, country cooking. Authentic, down-home, Southern country cooking is a generation-to-generation pass-it-down gift, and I have so many people in my family to thank for mine: my grandmothers, my mother, my father, my aunts Hattie Mae and Joshia Mae. I don't mean to brag, but the people in my family have always been some cooking folks. And that's no idle boast.

I know people think I'm kidding when I tell them I take my pans out on tour with me, but I am as serious as a heart attack. Not only do I take them with me, they're the first thing I pack. If you open my suitcase, you'll find three or four pans right beside my designer gowns. They're like my American Express card--I don't leave home without them.

If I have a really strong craving for something, or if I don't have the ingredients I want, I'll go grocery shopping after a show. Sometimes, if the show runs long and I don't want to go back to the hotel and change my clothes, I will go grocery shopping in my gown. It drives my bodyguard crazy. "Relax," I always tell him. "Nobody is going to bother me in the vegetable aisle."

People have the funniest reactions when they see me in the grocery store. Some stare, some scream, some run up and down the aisles. A lot of people just don't believe it's me. "Patti, that's not really you, is it?" I've been asked more times than I can count.

Once, I gave a mini concert in the seasoning aisle. Some of my die-hard fans, fans from way back in the sixties, spotted me searching for some sea salt. The next thing I knew, they were telling me about all the shows they'd come to over the years. We're talking dozens. They remembered concerts I had forgotten. "You all have been to almost as many shows as I have," I told them.

Of course, that they would come to see me all those times just touched my heart. So, when they asked me if I would please sing a little something, what could I do? My bodyguard didn't speak to me the whole way home.

I have so many more stories--and recipes--to share and they're all in this book. Some stories--like the flying biscuits--are hard to believe. Some stories--like the kindness of Laura Nyro--are hard to forget. But the recipes that go with them are all precious to me. And now they're my gift to you.

Say-My-Name Smothered Chicken and Gravy

There is only one person I know who can pluck a chicken as clean and as fast as my Grandmother Ellen. Chubby Checker. Before he became a famous recording star, Chubby worked at Henry Colt's, the poultry market near our house where my mother did her Saturday-morning grocery shopping.

Of course, he wasn't Chubby Checker back then. Dick Clark's wife had yet to change his name because she thought he was a cute version of Fats Domino. ("Fats" became "Chubby" and "Domino" turned into "Checker.")

When I met Chubby Checker, he was Ernest Evans, the cutest, pudgiest, fastest chicken-plucker in Philly. He was also a big part of the reason I loved grocery shopping with my mother, who was also called Chubby. Before Ernest went in the back of the store to clean and pluck your chicken, he would entertain you with jokes and songs and impersonations.

"I don't have time for that today," Chubby would tell Ernest when he would go on a little too long. "I'm making smothered chicken for dinner tonight, and I have to get home and get it started."

"No problem Mrs. Holte," Ernest would say and disappear in the back with our dinner. We could barely get over to the produce section before Ernest was back with the cleanest chicken I've ever seen. Next to Grandmother Ellen's, of course.

To this day, making smothered chicken takes me back to those Saturday-morning shopping sprees with Chubby and Chubby.

Hungry yet?

Makes 4 servings

One 3 1/2-pound chicken, rinsed and cut into 8 pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 medium celery ribs, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
3 cups chicken broth

Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the flour in a large bowl. Roll the chicken in the flour to coat, shaking off excess flour. Transfer 3 tablespoons of the flour to a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning halfway during cooking, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the oil from the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onions, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the reserved flour and stir well. Gradually stir in the broth and bring to a simmer.

Return the chicken to the skillet. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and shows no sign of pink when pierced at the bone, about 35 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a deep platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Bring the sauce to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring often, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season the gravy with salt and pepper and pour over the chicken. Serve hot.

Aunt Hattie's Scrumptious Sweet Tater Bread

Like so many of my special recipes, my Aunt Hattie Mae gave me this one. It has only been in recent years that I've gotten into baking and, so much of what I know about it I learned from Aunt Hattie and Aunt Josh.

Aunt Hattie and Aunt Josh are some cooking Sisters themselves. In Georgia, the ancestral home of my father's family, their culinary skill is legendary. For years, Aunt Hattie and Aunt Josh cooked in private homes for wealthy White families. More than a few folks stopped speaking to each other after one family visited another for dinner and an awestruck diner tried to hire Auntie Hattie or Aunt Josh away.

Aunt Josh even cooked President Eisenhower his first soul food meal. He'd spent the night with the family she was working for and, the next morning, Aunt Josh rose with the sun and cooked him a soul food banquet: hogshead bacon, sausage scrapple, grits and redeye gravy, sweet potato waffles, and, of course, Grandmother Tempie's flying biscuits. Aunt Josh says President Eisenhower mopped his plate clean. Can't you just see the look on the face of the White House chef when Ike got back to Washington and asked him to whip up some grits and gravy!!?

Aunt Josh and Aunt Hattie are both fabulous cooks, and as much as I relish their food, the stories they have told me over the years about our family are what I love most. When you put Aunt Hattie's Scrumptious Sweet Tater Bread in the oven, invite a very old or very young relative to join you in the kitchen. While it's baking, listen to or pass on your own family's very special legends and lore. You'll be glad you did.

Makes 8 servings

2 medium orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon or 1/8 teaspoon lemon extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan, tapping out the excess flour.

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the sweet potatoes and cook until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain, and rinse under cold water until easy to handle. Peel the sweet potatoes, place in a medium bowl, and mash well. Measure 1 cup mashed sweet potatoes, saving the remaining sweet potatoes for another purpose. In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer on high speed, beat the butter and sugar until combined, about 1 minute. One at a time, beat in the eggs. Beat in the sweet potatoes, evaporated milk, vanilla, and lemon zest. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat the flour mixture into the sweet potato mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.

Bake until the top springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour, 15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Invert onto the wire rack, turn right side up, and cool completely.

Best-Ever Banana Bread: Substitute 1 cup mashed ripe bananas for the mashed sweet potatoes. Reduce baking time to 1 hour.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 18 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 19 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2007

    Brings back memories....

    When I received this book, I couldn't put it down. It was like I was a little girl again remembering my mother's recipes and methods of cooking. Try the 'Back to Life' soup, 'Gichee Gichee Ya Ya Gumbo' and the Shrimp Etouffe. They are delicious! It made me realize that truly delicious food is not about always taking short-cuts and/or using 'convenience' food. So many cooks today (especially some on Food Network) emphasize fast, fast, fast and they end up sacrificing flavor and have no emphasis on family & making memories. I grew up on many of Patti's dishes. Her 'mac & cheese includes more cheese varieties than my mom's, but it's still a winner!' I want my kids to know how good REAL food is--not like that mac & cheese that comes out of a box. I give Patti's book two thumbs up!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2005

    horrible cookbook

    i did not like this book because she doesnt have enough everyday meals in it. Plus she didnt even have a real recipe for dressing... I am sorry Patti but this is not what i call Great cooking!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2003

    A 'Good Read' and good food!

    I love cookbooks that have more than just great recipes, and this is one of the best. This is the first 'celebrity' cookbook I've ever purchased -- after seening Miss LaBelle and Oprah having so much fun cooking, who could resist? The recipes are superb and the one for Jammin' Jambalaya has permanently replaced a jambalaya recipe from the N.Y. Times that I've been using for over 20 years. Just ordered 'Patti LaBelle's Lite Cuisine' without ever having seen it or read a review.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2002

    Excellent Recipes

    I have tried almost every recipe in the book. They are all good. Especially the home made carrot cake, macaroni and cheese and fried corn. This book stays in my kitchen. Great job!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2000

    Tasty, Tasty

    I tried Patti's peach cobbler and my husband would not let anyone near it, he said it reminds him of peach cobbler grandma use to make. I can't believe how easy the recipes are and tasty too. I would recommend this book to any and everyone who likes down home cooking....

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2000

    Sensational Soul Food

    Pattie's cookbook and motivated me to cook again. The recipes are easy to follow and delicious to eat. The stories are as good as the recipes that follow. This book has everything you need to become a great cook. It truely is the best gift I have ever received. I haven't really cooked in years, but now I cook almost everyday. I can hardly wait for volume II.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 1999

    Ms. Patti Strikes Platinum Again!!

    With each turn of the page culinary delights abound! Ms. LaBelle has hit the stratosphere once again, this time with her wonderful family recipes. She most generously shares many of her fond childhood food memories with the public. All recipes are easy to follow and many include Patti's tips that allows one the chance to really do it right! The best cookbook to grace my shelves in many a year. The peanut butter cookies and the tasty macaroni and cheese are now staples in this household, thanks to Ms. Labelle.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2013

    This book is truth! It's guaranteed to work. Patti leads and if

    This book is truth! It's guaranteed to work. Patti leads and if you follow you WILL be pleased. For newly weds this should be a staple you can't eat like this daily but monthly it should be your treat. 

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  • Posted September 28, 2010

    Disappointing Soul Food

    Patti LaBelle shares entertaining anecdotes and wonderful photos in this cookbook, but the recipes are lackluster and tasteless. If you are looking for delicious, award-winning Southern recipes, I would recommend a cookbook by James Villas, Paula Deen, or Mama Dip. Southern Living also publishes a number of wonderful volumes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2007

    Make room for the cheese!!!!!!

    Labelle's over-the-rainbow macaroni and cheese is absolutely to die for. This Holiday season i'm going to try her famous potatoe salad and wicked peach cobbler, more than likely they too will get a Great review.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2007

    A Good Cookbook

    I enjoy having this book in my collection. The recipes in the book end up on my Sunday dinner table quite a lot.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2006

    The best cookbook

    I have over 50 cookbooks and I must say this is the only one I'm using now. Patti Baby Back Ribs with the Bodacious Sauce is the best barbecue I have ever tasted. I will never buy the store brand sauce again. Her Geeche Geeche gumbo is to die for, and my husband is a geeche from Charleston lowcounty can vouch for that. My sister love this cookbook also.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2006

    ***LOVE IT***

    This cookbook was for someone looking for food with amazing taste. Every dish I made was absolutely delicious. My top picks were the Shrimp Etouiffe and Carrot Cake.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2004

    Umm.. Umm.. Good

    My friend bought this book a while back. Since then I have made the Smothered Chicken, Smothered Porkchops, Mac and Cheese, Carrot Cake and the Baked Chicken w/ Homemade BBQ Sauce.. I love, love, love them! Im buying myself and grandmother the book this holiday!! Must have!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2003

    Recipes that actually taste good

    This cookbook is awesome. I use it often, especially around the holidays. The stories that accompany each recipe is an extra treat!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2002

    Outstanding

    Her book was sensational and it had plenty of recipes with alot of wisdom and stories about her own family life. She represent strength and determination against all odds. I love her cookbook and her voice, she is wonderful. Hats off to Pattie!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2001

    When You Taste This It Feels Like Heaven!!!!!!

    Hey- I am so happy that someone finally wrote a book about how to keep your diet if you're a diabetic. Pattie's recipes are great and I am so happy that my grandma enjoys her food as well because if your grandma don't like then it really isn't worth cooking!! When I get rich and famous I hope to meet Pattie just to taste her Mac & Cheese and that great peach cobbler. You go Girl!!! Kenneth-Hanover Park, IL

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2000

    The book stays on my kithcen counter like the coffee pot

    I have two words to say about this sista's book.......it's **** the bomb **** .You will be lickin your fingas!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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