Ralph Brennan's New Orleans Seafood Cookbook

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Ralph Brennan's New Orleans Seafood Cookbook is the definitive guide to New Orleans seafood cooking, including a comprehensive seafood cook's manual, 170 recipes featuring classic and contemporary seafood preparations, 143 color photographs, and a comprehensive ingredients source guide.

Created by the perfect storm of culinary talent - restaurateur Ralph Brennan, prolific food writer Gene Bourg and storied photographer Kerri McCaffety - Ralph ...
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Ralph Brennan's New Orleans Seafood Cookbook is the definitive guide to New Orleans seafood cooking, including a comprehensive seafood cook's manual, 170 recipes featuring classic and contemporary seafood preparations, 143 color photographs, and a comprehensive ingredients source guide.

Created by the perfect storm of culinary talent - restaurateur Ralph Brennan, prolific food writer Gene Bourg and storied photographer Kerri McCaffety - Ralph Brennan's New Orleans Seafood Cookbook demystifies seafood cooking with detailed, triple-tested recipes that really work. Whether you're a novice or an expert, you'll find recipes to delight you, from the short and simple (Barbecue Shrimp, Grilled Redfish "on the Half-Shell", Crawfish Spring Rolls with Roasted Corn Relish & Chile-Garlic Sauce), to the delectably complex (Crawfish Bisque, Crabmeat Lasagna with Crab-&-Chanterelle Butter Sauce).

Illustrated step-by-step instructions for handling, storing and preparing raw seafood products, a guide to pairing seafood with wine, and a bonus section with substitutions, tips and special instructions to ensure recipes come out right and delicious, every time -it's all here in one luscious volume.

Four years in the making, the majesty of New Orleans seafood cooking is now accessible and available to every home cook, thanks to Ralph Brennan's New Orleans Seafood Cookbook.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780970933683
  • Publisher: Vissi d'Arte Books
  • Publication date: 4/9/2008
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 264,893
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 11.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)



Excerpted from Ralph Brennan's New Orleans Seafood Cookbook © 2008 by Ralph Brennan. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided by Vissi D'Arte Books solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.


For 2 servings

Why this dish goes by the name of barbecue shrimp is anybody's guess, since it's not barbecued and it's not cooked or served with barbecue sauce.

The original version is said to have originated in New Orleans' Italian community a half-century or more ago, to be added to a very long list of the city's Italian-Creole classics. Improvisations on the original recipe are many, but no authentic barbecue shrimp dish could be described as dainty, considering the spices called for.

Since the shrimp themselves are cooked and served with heads and shells intact, they're usually eaten as one would eat whole boiled lobster-with a bib and a willingness to use your bare hands. While the head and tail are always removed before eating, many New Orleanians like to retain the shell covering the shrimp meat, as long as the covering is soft and thin enough to chew properly.

In this recipe, the emulsified sauce's richness is a result of combining butterfat with the shrimp's natural juices, black pepper and worcestershire sauce. The shrimp are cooked just to the point of being done, remaining succulent. And the sauce is a prime candidate for dipping into with crusty bread.

Finger lickin' is optional.

Note: This dish is prepared only two servings at a time because increasingthe number of shrimp beyond 12 would require increasing the dish's amount of sauce. Reducing the larger amount of sauce would require more cooking time, resulting in over-cooked shrimp.

12 raw colossal shrimp,* unpeeled, with heads and tails left on
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
1½ tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper**
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1 to 3 tablespoons water, divided
half of 1 lemon, seeded
1/4 pound (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, preferably Plugra or other European-style butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
warm, crusty French bread, for serving

*If colossal shrimp are not available, use the largest you can find.
**To coarse-grind the peppercorns, use a blender or peppermill. The grind is important to the taste of the finished dish.

1. Place the unpeeled shrimp, worcestershire, coarsely ground pepper, Creole seasoning, garlic, and 1 tablespoon water in a heavy 10-inch, stainless-steel sauté pan. Squeeze the juice from the lemon half over the shrimp and add the rind and pulp to the pan.
2. Over high heat, cook the shrimp while gently stirring and occasionally turning the shrimp.
3. After about two minutes of cooking, the shrimp should start turning pink on both sides, indicating they are nearly half cooked.
4. If the shrimp are the colossal size, now add 2 tablespoons water to the pan. Otherwise, don't add water.
5. Reduce the heat to medium-high and continue cooking as you gradually add the cold pieces of butter to the pan. While turning the shrimp occasionally, swirl the butter pieces until they are incorporated into the pan juices, the sauce turns light brown and creamy as it simmers, and the shrimp are just cooked through. This will take about two minutes total if the shrimp are extra-large, and about three minutes total if they're colossal. Do not overcook the shrimp.
Serving Suggestion: Pour the shrimp and sauce into a heated pasta bowl with the lemon-half turned cut-side down, in the center. Serve the shrimp and sauce immediately, alongside slices of warm, crusty French bread for sopping up the sauce.


For 6 main-dish servings for lunch or brunch

The rich but subtle flavor of avocado is a marvelous foil for the taste of fresh shellfish, especially on a warm summer's day when coolness and freshness are so welcome in a lunch dish. This recipe, along with the separate one for the spicy vinaigrette, more than fills the bill.

3 perfectly ripe, medium-to-large Creole* tomatoes
3 avocados, 7 to 8 ounces each, preferably the Hass variety
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups spicy vinaigrette
1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat,** picked through
6 sprigs of fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley (if for a main-dish) or 12 sprigs (if for an appetizer), for garnish

*South Louisiana's Creole tomatoes are preferred for this recipe, although other good, peak-of-season regional varieties can be used.
**If this ingredient is difficult to find where you live, see Ingredient Sources on page 424.

1. Trim the ends from the tomatoes and cut each tomato into three slices, each about ¾-inch thick. Cut each slice in half crosswise.
2. Cut each avocado in half lengthwise, peel the halves, and cut each of them lengthwise into three slices.
3. On each of six chilled dinner plates, alternate three tomato half-slices (placed on their sides) with three avocado slices (also on their sides) on one half of the plate. Season each portion with a total of ' teaspoon kosher salt and ' teaspoon pepper.
4. In a large mixing bowl, vigorously whisk 1 cup vinaigrette to blend ingredients well, then promptly add the crabmeat to the bowl, mixing very gently with a spoon to keep the lumps intact.
5. Divide the crabmeat among the six plates, mounding it on the opposite side of the plate from the sliced tomatoes and avocados. Vigorously whisk 1 cup vinaigrette and drizzle a portion (about 2½ tablespoons) over each serving of sliced tomatoes and avocados, and garnish with a parsley sprig.


For 2 cups

The versatility of vinaigrette goes far beyond its compatibility with green salads. This one can serve as a marinade for fresh crab claws, boiled shrimp and for fish or other seafood that are to be grilled. It would also be a bracing dressing for potato salad or a cold pasta salad.

Note: Prepare the vinaigrette at least one day before using to allow the flavors to develop. It may be prepared up to three days in advance.

1/4 cup minced red onions
1/4 cup very finely chopped red sweet peppers
1/4 cup very finely chopped green sweet peppers
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1½ teaspoons crushed red peppers
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
2 teaspoons mild-flavored honey, such as clover honey

1. In a medium-size, nonreactive mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients, whisking until well blended. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
2. If the oil congeals, return the vinaigrette to room temperature and whisk vigorously immediately before using.
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Customer Reviews

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( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2008

    Terrific seafood cookbook

    I can often tell how good a cookbook is by seeing how many small bookmarks my wife places among the recipes. Between bits of newspaper coupons and paper napkins, or whatever else was at hand, the top of my review copy of Ralph Brennan's New Orleans Seafood Cookbook has become a veritable forest. The recipes actually come from Brennan's restaurants. Given the extended family into which he was born - New Orleans restaurant royalty, with members owning a number of major names in that city's eating establishments - there is little surprise that he went into the business. The beginning of the book has a 'manual' for how to select, store, and handle various types of fish and seafood. I would have liked to see a bit more - for example, not just filleting a whole fish, but also gutting and cleaning it. However, even in the section on fin fish, there was a tip I had never heard for telling if a fish is done. Insert the tip of a knife into the thickest part of a fillet. Then put the tip against the inside of your wrist. If it feels hot, then it's done. And there's plenty of other useful information, like an explanation of the difference among different types of crab meat and crabs. The recipes look fabulous: crab cakes with ravigote sauce, chilled smoked scallops with tomato-and-onion marmalade (making your own stove top smoker is in a tips appendix), oyster and artichoke bisque, baked catfish with sweet potato scales and andouille sauce, shrimp and spinach cannelloni with champagne butter sauce. This is upscale fish cookery. Oddly enough, my eyebrows frowned when I came upon the dessert, side dish, and drinks sections. Heaven knows I love dessert, and there are some terrific recipes in here, and I've also been known to tuck into side dishes and even take the occasional drink (including a rum-based milk punch during a 'Breakfast at Brennan's' at the famous restaurant owned by some of his kin). But there are so many general and even restaurant cookbooks, I found myself wishing that they had just concentrated on the fish alone, expanding those sections even more (not that they are skimpy by any means). But that's just me my wife happily bookmarked through the rest of the pages as well. It's a hefty $45, but you get a hefty amount of hardback for the money. It could make a great gift, whether for someone else or yourself.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2008

    A reviewer

    Okay, so I¿m not a cook¿ I admit. However, I love Ralph Brennan¿s New Orleans restaurants and since this book is supposed to work for even novice chefs I figured that I would give it a go. On first glance the recipes seemed complex, but as I tested the book in the kitchen I realized that some of the recipes are long because each step is laid out for you. Ralph Brennan and his culinary team have triple-tested each recipe and give you everything you need to be a success. From detailed step-by-step recipes, sourcing guide for spices, a photograph guide to filleting fish, cracking crabs and shucking oysters. It¿s all here. I have tested a few other cookbooks, but none were as successful in the kitchen or kept my interest like this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2008

    Ralph Brennan's New Orleans Seafood Cookbook

    Foodies everywhere will be delighted by this insider look into New Orleans seafood secrets. Ralph Brennan has assembled the crème de la crème team to write, photograph, edit and triple test the recipes in this book to create a complete guide to the nation¿s favorite seafood. It¿s no wonder New Orleans has become a culinary mecca with recipes like these. From the classic to the contemporary, Ralph Brennan serves up all the favorites. This book is a perfect opportunity to super-style your seafood!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 12, 2012

    Highly recommended

    This cookbook has become my favorite. I love all the recipes in it. I have eaten at the Brennans restaurant and I have not been disappointed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2008

    The Aromas, the Flavors and the Honest Good Food from New Orleans

    Ralph Brennan writes about his passion for cooking and for preparing seafood a la New Orleans style so well that the recipes seem a bonus. Filling the pages of this well designed, beautifully photographed (by Kerri McCaffety) cookbook are not only some of the finest recipes for seafood in print, but there are also bits of wisdom and humor that spice the presentation, making this one of the classiest cookbooks to come out in a long time. Brennan is careful to give the background of each of the many dishes he shares, starting with the idiosyncrasies of the ingredients and types of seafood he uses, but also the 'how to' aspect of preparation before cooking, step by illustrated step of the preparation , and elegant photographs of the presentation of his works of culinary art. The book is divided into 1( A Seafood Cook's Manual, 2) Appetizers, 3) Gumbos, Soups and Bisques, 4) Salads, 5) Main Courses, 6) Desserts and their sauces, with additional chapters on accompaniments, sauces, dressings, stocks, spirits, and seasonings. From these pages rise such spectacular foods as Crab Bisque with Cauliflower and Brie, Seared Tuna with Shrimp and Capers and Balsamic Vinegar Brown Butter Sauce, and even Fried Oyster Poor Boy sandwiches (the recipe is as much a tale of history as it is a useful guide to preparation). Ralph Brennan not only gives precise and easy to follow directions, but he also makes it sound like such fun to prepare his suggestions that the book is readable as literature. This is a must for lovers of seafood, especially those who have enjoyed the author's restaurant in New Orleans. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2008

    I¿ve been waiting for this cookbook for a long time!

    Seafood is New Orleans specialty. Yet despite the regional popularity of the dish, no one has had the confidence to tackle this subject until now¿ very surprising in a city of competitive chefs and foodies! Ralph Brennan and his talented team have truly captured the essence of Southern Seafood in this beautiful cookbook. In triple-testing each recipe, providing tips for ingredient sourcing and illustrating a complete guide to handling raw seafood this book provides everything you need to make seafood recipes work in your kitchen. Kudos to Ralph Brennan for being brave enough to master seafood recipes and congratulations to his team for creating a cookbook that is certain to become a classic! William S., New Orleans

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2008

    Ralph Brennan's New Orleans Seafood Cookbook

    Ralph Brennan¿s New Orleans Seafood Cookbook is destined to reach ¿Bible¿ status among professional chefs and enthusiastic home cooks who are lucky enough to own a copy. Brennan¿s 430-page book gives the reader detailed explanations of each recipe and technique and holds back no secrets. For the thoughtful chef, there is every reason to succeed! Despite the cookbook¿s claim to be the definitive book on New Orleans seafood 'a region known for incredible delicacies from the Gulf of Mexico, lakes and bayous', the book has something for every chef, from Montana to Maine. Brennan substitutes comparable regional fish for every Louisiana recommendation. No redfish in Rhode Island? No problem! Halibut, John Dory, Walleye or other locally caught fish could be an amazing alternative for dinner tonight. Photographer Kerri McCaffety¿s colorful images of techniques-to-table provide mouth-watering photographs that inspire the culinary wizards in each of us. Brennan¿s New Orleans Seafood Cookbook will have a place of honor in my cookbook collection, next to Julia Child¿s The Way to Cook and Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I look forward to many great meals to come!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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