I have been a dining columnist for St. Charles Avenue magazine since 2014. August 2022 brings a fresh look and new content for the 26-year-old magazine. I was honored when Andy Meyer, the magazine’s new editor of several months, asked me to tackle the 20-page feature that would re-launch Avenue. I put my life on hold and lived the subject of contemporary cocktail culture In New Orleans. I explored the city’s contemporary cocktail bars, interviewed legendary skills hosts, and got to know Neil Bodenheimer, the man behind Cure, Peychaud’s, and Cane and Table and author of the soon-to-be-released “Cure: New Orleans Drinks & How Mix ‘Em” (to be released October 25).
The result is “Cocktail Hour.” I saw the digital version yesterday and I was thrilled. I saw the print version today and my eyes just about popped out (as convenient and compelling as digital may be, print still stuns). We have such a talented team—looking at you Andy, and our art director Ali Sullivan. This thing looks incredible!
If you are a cocktail enthusiast, you like to entertain, or you just like beautiful things, this one’s for you.
When I was a child, after school I used to geek out over “The French Chef” with Julia Child and the “Great Chefs” on WYES/PBS while my friends were watching “The Brady Bunch” and “Speed Racer.”
Imagine my delight when I learned that next Spring WYES will be unveiling a celebration of Leah Chase in a new cooking series featuring the legendary chef’s family. “The Dooky Chase Kitchen: Leah’s Legacy” series began shooting this summer on location in the Dooky Chase kitchen with Leah’s grandson, Edgar “Dook” Chase IV, who now oversees the restaurant’s kitchen; her niece Cleo Robinson, who joined Leah in the kitchen in 1980; and the restaurant’s newest chef, Leah’s great-granddaughter Zoe Chase. Paired with some of the menus are specialty cocktails crafted by Leah’s granddaughter Eve Haydel, who has updated drink recipes from the restaurant’s earlier days.
Each program in the 26-part cooking series will explore a different chapter of the restaurant’s history. On an episode about distinguished guests, the Chase chefs will share a recipe for Grits and Quail that Leah served at the restaurant in 2008 to President George W. Bush during a North American Leaders’ Summit. On another episode the restaurant’s significant place in the history of the Civil Rights Movement will be celebrated with preparation of Creole Gumbo, a dish Leah served to Martin Luther King Jr. and other social activists when they held strategy sessions in the restaurant’s upstairs dining room in the 1960’s.
You can check out a YouTube teaser here.
Another wonderful thing just happened. I received my copy of “Secrets of a Taste Maker,” the definitive cookbook and biography of Al Copeland by Chris Rose and Kit Wohl with photography by Sam Hanna. Over the course of a few years, I collaborated with them on this book. I was the project manager as well as the person who sat in the kitchen with the Copeland’s Research & Development chef and deciphered how recipes meant to serve many could be refabricated in a manner that a home cook could pull off. I was then one of many editors and line editors to pour over the book. Along the way I learned what a fascinating and generous man Al Copeland was. He led the winningest (yes, this is a word) team in offshore powerboat racing history and travelled the world with that sport. He donated lavishly to charity. He had an advanced palate and could discern even the faintest hint of an ingredient in a dish, thereby allowing him to break down any recipe. His sensitivity was almost savant-like.
Those who knew him testify that, with a single taste of any dish, Al Copeland could break it down by its basic elements, ticking off what spices, herbs, oils, blends, fats, greens, proteins, starches, and other ingredients it contained—with stunning accuracy.
The scientific term for this ability is “super-taster,” a label coined by Linda Bartoshuk, a psychologist at the University of Florida who is internationally recognized for her research into the chemical senses of taste and smell. Through her research she identified a rare physical sensitivity in some people that enables them to experience a heightened perception of tastes and flavors.
“People with refined taste buds make great chefs, cooks, and food critics,” she has written. “They can tell the subtle difference between the texture and flavor of foods, so food often becomes more than a hobby and becomes an area of great interest.”
Equally spooky was Al Copeland’s death from a rare form of cancer of the salivary glands. Related? Was his gift also his curse?
This book dives into all of this as well as his flashy personality, collections of fast cars, penchant for beautiful women, and devotion to his children. The recipes are spot-on, too.
The book drops September 13, just in time to tighten up everyone on your holiday list and proclaim yourself “Done!”
From “Secrets of a Tastemaker”
Well known for his flashy style, bravado, and collection of exotic sports cars—including Al’s favorite Lamborghini—this simple-though-decadent dish is as rich as Al himself.
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3 ounces shredded Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
- 4 tablespoons salted butter, cubed
- 1 large egg yolk
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3/4 cup Sauté Butter (recipe follows)
- 1 cup julienned tasso
- 1 1/2 cups Alfredeaux Sauce (recipe above)
- 1 pound fresh fettuccine or (3/4 pound dried)
- 2 cups heavy cream
To make the Alfredeaux Sauce
Pour the heavy cream into a small saucepan set over medium heat and heat to a simmer. Once the cream reaches 180°F, remove the saucepan from the heat.
Place an immersion blender in the cream and with the motor running, gradually add the shredded Parmesan and salted butter. Continue mixing until all the cheese is melted. Once mixed, scrape the side of the saucepan with a rubber spatula to ensure all ingredients are thoroughly blended. Set aside.
Place the egg yolk in a medium bowl. Begin whipping the egg yolk with an electric hand mixer. With the mixer running, add 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cream mixture to temper the yolk. Once the first addition of the cream mixture is incorporated, add the remaining cream mixture and blend thoroughly with the mixer.
Scrape the mixture into another clean, small saucepan. Insert an immersion blender into the sauce and turn the heat to medium. With the immersion blender running, bring the sauce to a simmer. (If the blender is not running, the heat will cause the yolk to scramble and fall to the bottom of the saucepan.) When a simmer is achieved, immediately remove the saucepan from the heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
To make the Fettuccine Lamborghini
Melt the Sauté Butter (recipe follows) in a very large skillet over medium heat. Add the tasso and sauté until the fat has rendered out and begun to foam, about 5 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups Alfredeaux Sauce (there will be some leftover sauce) and set aside.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat to cook the pasta. Generously salt the boiling water, stir in the pasta, and cook according to package instructions until it is al dente (tender but firm to the bite). Drain the pasta in a colander.
Bring the Alfredeaux Sauce mixture to a simmer. Add the heavy cream and the cooked pasta and bring the mixture back to a simmer, tossing the pasta in the sauce. Reduce the heat and allow the sauce to simmer until just slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Divide the pasta among four serving bowls. Add leftover Alfredeaux Sauce if desired.
Makes about 2 1/2 pounds
- 1 1/2 pounds (6 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature plus 1/4 cup (1/2 stick), divided
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
- 1/3 cup Copeland’s House Seasoning (recipe follows)
Melt the 1/4 cup of the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the green onions and House Seasoning and sauté until the onions are wilted, about 2 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and refrigerate until completely cooled but not chilled.
Add the remaining 6 sticks of softened butter to the bowl and mix with a rubber spatula until it is thoroughly blended, and no pale streaks remain in the mixture.
Scrape the butter into an airtight container or form it into logs and wrap in plastic wrap. The butter keeps, refrigerated, for 1 week or frozen for 3 months.
Copeland’s House Seasoning
Makes about 3/4 cup
- 2 tablespoons granulated onion
- 2 tablespoons fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons granulated garlic
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons ground basil
- 4 teaspoons ground oregano
- 1 tablespoon cayenne
- 1 tablespoon ground thyme
- 2 1/2 teaspoons Spanish paprika
Combine the onion, salt, garlic, pepper, basil, oregano, cayenne, thyme, and paprika in a sealable container, close it, and shake to blend. Store the seasoning in a cool, dry place.
Have a great weekend, everyone!