[Creole and Cajun Cooking] [Basic Cooking] [Other Cookbooks]
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Chuck's Recommended Cookbooks

in association with Amazon.com Books
I've been accumulating a frighteningly large collection of cookbooks, particularly since I began my studies at the now-defunct culinary program at UCLA Extension. I began when I first left New Orleans, since I knew I'd need to know how to make my favorite comfort foods while in a bizarre foreign country like California. And as is usually the case with me, the collection has gotten a bit out of hand.

We've made it easy, safe and secure to purchase any of these books online through links to Amazon.com Books, "Earth's largest bookstore", with over 1 million titles on hand. I'm a satisfied customer myself; they've always provided prompt, easy to use service, and their prices are great -- most books are discounted. (For instance, Chef Charlie Trotter's books, normally $50, are available here for $35!)

Click any highlighted book title to order it through Amazon.com. If a title I recommend is not available through Amazon.com, I'll try to include mail-order information.

I'll start off with some of the essential Creole and Cajun cookbooks, and then add to this list gradually until I've catalogued my entire collection here.

Creole, Cajun and related cookbooks

Apuzzo, Andrea. La Cucina di Andrea's, Cucina dell'ART/Andrea's Restaurant, 1989
Chef Andrea's cooking is northern Italian, not Cajun/Creole, but he's been a New Orleans chef for many years, using many local staples, and his restaurant is one of the finest in the country. Mail-order directly from the restaurant, (504) 834-8583.

Brennan, Ella & Dick Brennan. The Commander's Palace New Orleans Cookbook, Crown Publishing, 1984.
The crowning jewel of the Brennan family's New Orleans restaurant empire, and the restaurant consistenly named by New Orleanians at the best in the city, and the 1996 James Beard Foundation Award winner for Best Restaurant in the United States. Now try your hand at preparing some of their classic dishes at home, including their astonishing Bread Pudding Soufflé!

Burton, Nathaniel & Rudy Lombard. Creole Feast: 15 Master Chefs of New Orleans Reveal Their Secrets, Random House, 1978

Cajun Revelation: Cooking Secrets from Acadiana's Award-Winning Chefs, American Culinary Federation, Acadiana Chapter, 1995

Folse, Chef John D., C.E.C. The Evolution of Cajun & Creole Cuisine, Chef John Folse and Company, 1989.
Chef Folse, former president of the American Culinary Federation and multiple award-winner for his cuisine, is the owner and chef of Lafitte's Landing Restaurant in Donaldsonville, Louisiana. This marvelous book is more than a cookbook -- it explores the history and evolution of the cuisine, and puts the food in a historical and cultural perspective, a setting that is unfortunately rare in many regional and "ethnic" cookbooks. With dishes old and new (and all luxurious), you can't go wrong with this book.

Folse, Chef John D., C.E.C. Plantation Celebrations
Chef Folse celebrates the fine cuisine as served on the great plantations, in the great plantation homes along the River Road, and near his native Donaldsonville.

Great Chefs of New Orleans, Volume I, Great Chefs Television, 1982
In my opinion, the "Great Chefs" series was the finest series of cooking programs ever, with apologies to Julia. Beginning with the first two classic series set in New Orleans, we watch real chefs making real food in their own restaurant kitchens, enabling you not only to recreated their fabulous dishes yourself, but teaching valuable techniques along the way.

Great Chefs of New Orleans, Volume II, Great Chefs Television, 1984

Guste, Roy F. Jr. Antoine's Restaurant Cookbook, Since 1840: A Collection of the Original Recipes from New Orleans' Oldest and Most Famous Restaurant, W. W. Norton, 1989

Guste, Roy F. Jr. The 100 Greatest New Orleans Creole Recipes. Pelican Publishing, 1994.

Guste, Roy F. Jr. Gulf Coast Fish: A Cookbook

Guste, Roy F. Jr. Louisiana Light: Low-Fat, Low-Calorie, Low-Cholesterol, Low-Salt Cajun and Creole Cookery

Guste, Roy F. Jr. The Tomato Cookbook

Chef Emeril Lagasse
These are by far the most popular books on this site, due in part to Chef Emeril's popular television programs on the Food Network. It's also primarily due, I think, to the fact that he makes some of the most fabulous food I've ever had in my life. Here's a sample of one of the meals I had at the restaurant and see for yourself. Here are the books he currently has available:

Lagasse, Emeril & Jessie Tirsch. Emeril's New New Orleans Cooking, William Morrow, 1993
Chef Emeril Lagasse is one of the most creative, innovative, and mind-boggling culinary artists in the nation. His restaurants, Emeril's and NOLA in New Orleans, are at the forefront not only of local cuisine but of American cuisine. In this first cookbook, you can find many of the dishes that have appeared on the fabulous menu at Emeril's and NOLA, plus more favorites of the Chef. One of my favorite cookbooks in the world. You'll be guaranteed to wow your guests with these dishes. As Chef would say ... "BAM!!"

Lagasse, Emeril & Marcelle Bienvenu. Louisiana Real and Rustic, William Morrow, 1996
Chef Lagasse digs deep into the roots of classic, rustic Cajun and Creole cuisine in his newest book, concentrating on the flavors of Acadiana, plus lots of surprises, such as the recipe for his Worcestershire sauce (always house-made for the restaurants), and much more. Don't miss his TV program "The Essence of Emeril", on the TV Food Network.

Lagasse, Emeril & Marcelle Bienvenu. Emeril's Creole Christmas, William Morrow, 1997
Equipped with New Orleans traditions, 70 photographs and over 100 recipes, this delightful book provides complete menus, down to the shopping lists, for a Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas Day brunch, and New Year's Eve and Day suppers (although you could make them for any special occasion -- this book isn't just for Christmas!). Also included are instructions for making stocking stuffers such as homemade Worcestershire sauce, buttercream mints, and cocoa rum balls.

I recently attended a book signing for this one at Book Soup Bistro in West Hollywood, and Chef was also in the kitchen that night, cooking a special prix-fixe menu of dishes from this book. I had the Salad of Spinach, New Potatoes and Roasted Walnuts with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette, topped with intensely delicious Maytag Blue Cheese; a dark, rich and smoky Quail and Andouille Gumbo; the Crawfish-Stuffed Pork Chop (2 inches thick!) with Crawfish Bordelaise Sauce; and for dessert, a sinfully delicious Chocolate Bread Pudding with Spiced Cream. Mmmmmmmmmmmm. Get the book ... an ideal Christmas gift! :-)

Lagasse, Emeril with Marcelle Bienvenu and Felicia Willett. Emeril's TV Dinners, William Morrow, 1998.
A cookbook geared more towards fans of Emeril's TV programs.

Patout, Alex. Patout's Cajun Home Cooking, Random House, 1986

The Picayune's Creole Cookbook, Dover Publishing.
A fascinating look at Creole cooking of the 19th Century. This classic collection of New Orleans Creole cuisine was put together by The Picayune (now The Times-Picayune), New Orleans daily newspaper, in 1901. It's fascinating to see how much of the food then was still solidly French in influence, but still with many local touches. It's also fun to look at how they made certain classic dishes then, as compared to how we make them now ... boiled crawfish was particularly interesting! Very inexpensive, and a MUST-GET for any good Creole cookbook collection.

Prudhomme, Paul. Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen, William Morrow, 1984
The man that started the "Cajun craze" of the 1980s, and the book that launched his national fame. Chef Paul was not only an innovator in bringing Cajun cuisine to New Orleans and the world, but he also influenced a generation of chefs who initially trained in his restaurant. Also, though its his own technique and not a "traditional" one ... if you want to learn how to blacken, all you need to know is here.

Prudhomme, Paul. The Prudhomme Family Cookbook: Old-Time Louisiana Recipes by the Eleven Prudhomme Brothes and Sisters and Chef Paul Prudhomme, William Morrow, 1987.

Prudhomme, Paul. Chef Paul Prudhomme's Seasoned America, William Morrow, 1991.

Prudhomme, Paul. Chef Paul Prudhomme's Fork in the Road: A Different Direction in Cooking, William Morrow, 1993.

Prudhomme, Paul. Chef Paul Prudhomme's Pure Magic, William Morrow, 1995.

River Road Recipes, The Junior League of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1959.
Now in its seventieth printing, over one million copies sold. One of the most popular Louisiana cookbooks ever.

River Road Recipes II: A Second Helping, The Junior League of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1976.
Twenty-fifth printing, over 400,000 copies sold.

River Road Recipes III: A Healthy Collection, The Junior League of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1994.

Talk About Good! Le Livre de la Cuisine de Lafayette, The Junior League of Lafayette, Louisiana, 1967. Twenty-first printing, 1993.

Talk About Good II: Le Livre de Cuisine des Acadiens, The Junior League of Lafayette, Louisiana, 1979. Sixth printing.

Books on the Fundamentals of Cooking

Child, Julia and Simone Beck. Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1 and Volume 2.
The classic books that brought French cooking to the American home kitchen.

Child, Julia. The Way to Cook
Julia updates her recipes and techniques in a more user-friendly volume than the above books, with lots of illustrations and anecdotes. I use this one a lot.

Corriher, Shirley. Cookwise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking
An excellent addition to your library for encyclopedic basic cooking knowledge. According to Amazon's cookbooks editor, it's "a unique combination of basic cooking know-how, excellent recipes -- from apple pie to beurre blanc -- and reference source. She makes the science of cooking entirely comprehensible, then livens it up with stories, such as when her first roast duck blew up because she overstuffed it and the fat from the bird caused it to expand beyond capacity." One professional chef calls it "the best book i have seen in a long time ... amazing, full of really concise information."

The Culinary Institute of America. The Professional Chef, Seventh Edition, Van Nostrand Reinhold.
The new edition of this superb reference contains additional information on such management issues as cost control, waste control, inventory, and pricing strategies, and covers such new topics as environmental impact and professional behavior. New chapters feature vegetarian recipes, international cuisine, and sandwiches, as well as a complete overview of the fundamentals of choosing, storing and preparing food. Over 1,000 recipes and 1,400 color photos. The most practical, up-to-date, comprehensive reference guide available on the culinary world, and a must for any cookbook collection.

Escoffier, Auguste. The Escoffier Cookbook: A Guide to the Fine Art of Cookery, Crown Publishing.
Escoffier was The Man, the one who established everything from the role of the chefs and different chef positions in the kitchen to codifying and establishing the basics of classical French cuisine. Read this book and cook from it, and from there you can go anywhere.

Gisslen, Wayne. Professional Cooking
This was the main text for the first three Professional Cooking courses in the now-defunct Culinary Arts program at UCLA Extension, where I was a student. Thorough, and an excellent overview of professional cooking technique.

Rombauer, Irma, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker. The New Joy of Cooking
The venerable American classic cookbook, now in its third and most recent major revision. A good all-purpose cookbook.

Willan, Anne. La Varenne Pratique: The Complete Illustrated Cooking Course: Techniques, Ingredients, and Tools of Classic Modern Cuisine
Chef Willan is the founder and principal instructor of the prestigious La Varenne cooking school in France. This book is extremely detailed, extremely thorough, and has a wealth of illustrations and photographs (which I find quite valuable).

Books by Chefs I Admire

I've studied the writings and recipes of many chefs, both on my own and as part of my culinary arts studies at UCLA Extension ... here are some of my favorites of them.

Trotter, Charlie. Charlie Trotter's
Chef Charlie Trotter is one of the most brilliant and inventive chefs in America today. His dishes are works of art, and are presented as such in this beautifully illustrated coffee-table book. He's said that he doesn't really expect people to make such complex dishes at home, but I urge you to try -- you can learn a lot about presentation and melding of flavors from Chef Trotter. We made many of his dishes in my advanced classes at UCLA Extension's culinary arts program. Go for it. Chef Trotter's books are on sale here for 30% off their normal price of $50, so this is the place to get 'em!

Trotter, Charlie. Charlie Trotter's Seafood
All seafood dishes in this third volume of Chef Trotter's amazing creations, just as gorgeous as the other two. On sale, 30% off!

Trotter, Charlie. Charlie Trotter's Vegetables
Chef Trotter's second gorgeous volume of recipe and photographs, and a boon for vegetarians in search of dazzling, creative and sophisticated cuisine. On sale, 30% off!

Trotter, Charlie. Charlie Trotter's Desserts
Astonishing desserts, beautifully presented, and somewhat more accessible to the home cook than some of the previous volumes.

Various Cookbooks and Food-Related Books of Interest

Here's a variety of stuff, from general cookbooks to extremely specialized ones, to books on food and cooking that I recommend.

Conrad, Barnaby III. Absinthe: History in a Bottle.
This book might be of interest to the 700 or so people who access my article on absinthe each week, since this odious beverage has been gaining quite a bit of popularity as well as notoriety of late ...

New Orleans was a hotbed of absinthe consumption, and that legacy is still visible in the French Quarter's Old Absinthe Bar, on Bourbon Street. One hundred forty-four proof, notoriously addictive, and the drug of choice for 19th-century poets and Storyville madams, absinthe is gaining bootleg popularity after almost a century of being banned. Due to popular demand, this book is back in a new paperback edition. 60 color photos. 100 illustrations.

Czarnecki, Jack. A Cook's Book of Mushrooms
With 100 Recipes for Common and Uncommon Varieties

Kavena, Juanita Tiger. Hopi Cookery
Ever wanted to know how to dress and roast a prairie dog? Well, you'll find it all out here, in this fascinating look into the traditional culinary practices of the Hopi people. Some recipes are only of cultural or historical interest for non-Hopis, but there are many practical, hearty and delicious recipes in here. Hopi omelettes are yummy.

McCauley, Dana and Rich Archibold. Last Dinner on the Titanic: Menus and Recipes from the Legendary Liner, Hyperion, 1997.
Dine in the luxury of the great ship's First Class dining room, in your own dining room, and you don't even have to sink your house. If you can't make it to The Chef's Table restaurant in New Orleans, where the last dinner is served every Tuesday, give it a shot yourself. This book is fascinating, and great fun.

McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
Ever wanted to know why you can't whip milk, but you can whip cream? Ever wonder the reason behind some of those kitchen disasters that had you saying, "I have no idea what went wrong."? McGee, in an extremely detailed and very informative and entertaining book, serves up food science in a way that'll make you understand how and why things work and don't work in the kitchen. Absolutely indespensible for a serious home cook as well as the professional. Hardcover edition available as well.

McGee, Harold. The Curious Cook: More Kitchen Science and Lore
Continuing where his previous book left off, with more fascinating food science that you can put to work in your own kitchen. Fun to read as well as informative. Hardcover edition available as well.

Montignac, Michel. Dine Out and Lose Weight: The French Way to Culinary 'Savoir Vivre'.
We all complain that we get too fat by eating out too much. Here's a terrific book that thoroughly explains metabolism, digestion, fat storage, what foods to combine, what not to combine, what you can eat and what you must give up. Some chefs I know claim to have lost 20-30 excess pounds by following what they learned here. Now you can eat, enjoy your food and not get fat!

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Chuck Taggart (e-mail chuck)