cover image Louisiana Real and Rustic

Louisiana Real and Rustic

Emeril Lagasse. William Morrow Cookbooks, $27 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-688-12721-3

Even before his hit show on the TV Food Network and his New Orleans facsimile in Las Vegas (Emeril's New Orleans Fish House), the chef/owner of Emeril's and NOLA's in the Big Easy was a personality. His warm enthusiasm is present in the pages of his latest friendly, punchy book. Quickly covering some standard Louisiana ingredients like roux and Emeril's Worcestershire Sauce, he then moves on to classics like Crawfish Bisque (complete with stuffed crawfish heads) and Chicken and Dumplings. Notes to the recipes explain the origins of food--such as the native American roots of Natchitoches Meat Pies--and are exuberantly spiked with comments like, ""Mon cher, c'est bon, oui."" Not for the fat-phobic are such dishes as Praline Cream Pie (a stick of butter in the graham-cracker crust, five egg yolks in the filling, a cup of heavy cream in the topping and crumbled pralines in all three layers) and the Peacemaker sandwich (a baguette split down the middle, slathered with butter and filled with fried oysters and tartar sauce). But this is authentic fare, delivered with irresistible conviction. (Sept.)