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Books That Cook

By April 2002Comments

BRENNAN’S OF HOUSTON IN YOUR KITCHEN by Carl Walker offers more than one hundred pages of beautiful images and easy-to-follow recipes. For about 35 years, Houstonians have known about their city’s outpost of Brennan’s—the original Brennan’s, in the French Quarter, is a must for anyone visiting New Orleans. In this book chef Walker has put his delicious dishes—Brennan’s favorites include the Southern Pecan Fish and Risotto Jambalaya—onto pages that you can take and use in your own kitchen. In fact, in the foreword Alex Brennan-Martin states: “Carl told me that he would only consider this book a success if he got to ‘sign some with pages that were stained and dirty.'”

Brennan’s of Houston is divided into seven chapters, from best of beginnings to grand finales. In the introduction Walker states: “I recognize the need to make recipes that are useful and that don’t scare people off with the number of ingredients or the perceived difficulty of preparation. I’ve included short-cuts like canned beef broth or the bouillon cube for intensifying flavor, as well as the longer process of making stocks from scratch.” In fact, throughout the book for each recipe, there is a “Chef’s Tip” provided. For example, the chef’s tip for the Ringneck Pheasant and Foie Gras recipe states: “Pheasant is a very lean, white-meated bird, so be careful not to over cook. The trio of sautéed onion, carrot and celery forms what chefs call a ‘mirepoix’ (mihr-PWAH). For this dish, mirepoix functions to season the pheasant as a stuffing and to supply an aromatic bed for the bird to rest on during roasting.” Of course, dining at Brennan’s translates to more than just delicious food. “What’s more, we spend a lot of time incorporating the little extras—from choosing a good wine to folding a linen napkin—that make a meal a dining experience,” Walker says in the introduction. Another interpretation of “a little something extra” comes from the Cajun-Creole world “lagniappe,” which Brennan’s uses to define special offerings. The following is a sampling of recipes you can expect to find in Brennan’s of Houston. Note: The most popular dish at Brennan’s in the Bayou City is Turtle Soup—you can find the recipe for it on page 61.

Mint Julep
Chili-Fried Gulf Oysters (a favorite of former president George Bush)
Beefsteak Tomato and Crabmeat Salad
Eggs Hussard
Baked D’Anjou Pears
Oatmeal-Crusted Pork Loin
Texas Bobwhite Quail
Texas Cornbread Pudding
Jack Daniel’s Molasses Vinegar
Bananas Foster
New Orleans—Style Pralines

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