If you’re a fan of the HBO television series Treme, you will love “Treme: Stories and Recipes From the Heart of New Orleans,” the cookbook by New Orleans native Lolis Eric Elie, a staff writer and story editor for the show.
However, if like me you have never seen the show which begins its fourth and final season in December, its first-person narrative by the show’s characters might be confusing.
The cookbook moves between real New Orleans locals and nationally known chefs who’ve appeared as themselves in the show and first-person narratives from the program’s characters. It is written from the perspective of chef Janette Desautel, a character on the show.
But this isn’t a fan cookbook taking advantage of the popularity of a television program. It has the blessing of its HBO creators. Chef Anthony Bourdain, a writer for the show, wrote the book’s foreword; David Simon, the show’s executive producer and a writer, did the preface; and executive producer Nina Kostroff Noble, the postscript.
The cookbook’s real strength is its author, Elie, and his choice of more than 100 traditional and contemporary New Orleans recipes that capture the city’s culinary spirit. He incorporates recipes from New Orleans chefs and other locals who the character Desautel might have met while working in the Crescent City, such as Emeril Lagasse, Susan Spicer, Donald Link, Anne Kearney, John Besh, JoAnn Clevenger, Greg and Mary Sonnier, Frank Brigtsen, Tory McPhail, Jessica B. Harris and Poppy Tooker.
He also makes the fictional characters’ food memories authentic New Orleans. Cop Terry Colson recalls going to the corner grocery store for Cloverleaf doughnuts and going to McKenzie’s and Sonny Schiler laughs about how “food is like a religion here.”
The character Desautel describes the cookbook as “encompassing the recipes, ideas, and spirits of the many fine cooks I’ve met since I’ve moved down here.” That says it best.
Cheramie Sonnier is The Advocate’s Food editor. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Soa’s Garden Vegetable ‘Fettuccine’ With Fresh Tomato Sauce Serves 4. Recipe contributed by chef Soa Davies is from “Treme: Stories and Recipes From the Heart of New Orleans” by Lolis Eric Elie. The “fettuccine” in this dish is made of ribbons of fresh vegetables.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbls. unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 zucchini, shaved with a vegetable peeler into long strips
1 yellow squash, shaved with a vegetable peeler into long strips
1 carrot, peeled and shaved with a vegetable peeler into long strips
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
1/2 cup shaved pecorino cheese
1. In a heavy skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and toast, stirring, until fragrant and light golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Stir in the wine and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently until the sauce is slightly thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
3. In a large sauté pan or skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the zucchini, yellow squash and carrot ribbons and lightly sauté just until wilted, about 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Divide the vegetable “fettuccine” among four plates and spoon the fresh tomato sauce on top. Garnish with the basil leaves and pecorino. Serve at once.
Note: Substitute any sturdy vegetables you like that will hold up to shaving into these delicate ribbons; use the fresh vegetables available to you.
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