Leah Chase, affectionately known as the Queen of Creole Cuisine, made an indelible mark on the world of culinary arts.
Born in 1923, she spent decades mastering and sharing her love for traditional Creole cuisine.
Her journey was not just confined to the kitchen of Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in New Orleans, a landmark in its own right, but also extended into the literary world through her cookbooks.
These books are stories of tradition, resilience, and the rich tapestry of African-American cooking.
In this article, we explore her notable cookbooks: “The Dooky Chase Cookbook” and “And Still I Cook.”
“The Dooky Chase Cookbook,” published in 1990, is a treasure trove of Creole recipes and more. It represents a lifetime of experience and passion that Leah Chase poured into her cooking.
This book is more than a culinary guide; it is a narrative that intertwines the history of New Orleans, the evolution of Creole cuisine, and the personal journey of Leah Chase herself.
Within its pages, readers find a blend of traditional Creole dishes, reflections on Leah’s life, and her philosophy towards food and culture.
The recipes range from hearty soups and stews, like the quintessential Gumbo, to elegant desserts like Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce.
Each recipe is detailed with personal anecdotes or historical notes, giving readers a deeper understanding and appreciation of the dishes.
8 Of The Best Recipes In “The Dooky Chase Cookbook”
Below, we’ve picked out some of the very best recipes from The Dooky Chase Cookbook:
- Shrimp Clemenceau: This dish is a standout representation of New Orleans’ seafood cuisine. Shrimp Clemenceau is made with fresh, plump shrimp, sautéed to perfection, and typically served with potatoes and peas. The dish is known for its robust flavors, melding garlic, butter, and herbs to create a rich, satisfying meal.
- Southern Fried Chicken: Leah Chase’s Southern Fried Chicken is a classic recipe that has been perfected over the years. This dish involves coating chicken pieces in seasoned flour and frying them to achieve a crispy, golden crust while maintaining a juicy, tender interior.
- Crawfish Etouffée: A beloved Creole dish, Crawfish Etouffée features succulent crawfish tails smothered in a thick, flavorful roux-based sauce. This dish is a harmony of flavors, with the crawfish and a rich blend of spices, bell peppers, onions, and celery.
- Split Pea Soup: Leah Chase elevates this simple soup to a flavorful delight. Made with split peas, ham, and a medley of vegetables, it’s slow-cooked until creamy and rich.
- Creole Jambalaya: Jambalaya in Leah Chase’s cookbook is a vibrant, one-pot rice dish bursting with flavors. It combines rice with a variety of meats like chicken, sausage, and sometimes seafood, cooked with a blend of Creole spices.
- Court Bouillon: This is a rich, flavorful fish stew steeped in a tomato-based sauce with a mix of herbs and spices. The Court Bouillon is a fine example of Leah Chase’s ability to blend flavors, creating a dish that’s both comforting and sophisticated.
- Lemon Meringue Pie: A classic dessert with a perfect balance of sweet and tart, Leah Chase’s Lemon Meringue Pie features a smooth, zesty lemon filling topped with a light, fluffy meringue.
- Gumbo des Herbes: A unique take on the traditional gumbo, this version is notable for its use of a variety of greens. Gumbo des Herbes is a flavorful, hearty dish, rich in both history and taste.
Leah Chase’s second book, “And Still I Cook,” released in 2003, is an extension of her culinary philosophy and a reflection of her life’s journey.
This book combines her deep knowledge of Creole cuisine with stories from her life, making it a compelling read for both food enthusiasts and history buffs.
Here, Leah Chase delves deeper into the fusion of food, culture, and the importance of preserving culinary traditions.
The recipes featured are a mix of old family favorites and modern adaptations, reflecting the evolving nature of Creole cuisine.
Leah’s narratives accompanying the recipes provide context and personal insight, making each dish more than just a meal but a story to be shared and cherished.
6 Of The Best Recipes In “And Still I Cook”
These are our top picks from this book:
- Gumbo z’Herbes: Leah Chase’s Gumbo z’Herbes is a unique and flavorful dish traditionally served during Lent. It featured in the first book and is back again – it’s a true classic.
- Shrimp Clemenceau: Featured again in this book, Shrimp Clemenceau is a beloved New Orleans dish. In “And Still I Cook,” Leah Chase showcases her ability to adapt and evolve traditional dishes while maintaining their essence.
- Veggie Jambalaya: This new recipe is a testament to Leah Chase’s adaptability and awareness of evolving culinary trends. Veggie Jambalaya is a vegetarian take on the classic, packed with a variety of vegetables and spices.
- Rice Pancakes with Ham and Tomato-Basil Sauce: This creative dish is a delightful blend of flavors and textures. The rice pancakes provide a unique base, complemented by savory ham and a fresh, aromatic tomato-basil sauce.
- Oxtail Stew: A traditional favorite, Oxtail Stew is a rich, hearty dish that exemplifies soulful cooking. The oxtails are slow-cooked until tender, absorbing the flavors of the broth and vegetables.
- Sweet Potato Soup: This soup is a smooth, comforting dish with the natural sweetness of sweet potatoes complemented by a blend of spices. It’s a simple yet elegant soup, reflecting Leah Chase’s ability to create dishes that are both nourishing and flavorful.
Leah Chase’s cookbooks represent a journey through the heart and soul of Creole cuisine, as well as the vibrant spirit of New Orleans.
These books offer delicious recipes alongside narratives of a rich culinary tradition told by a woman who was not only a chef but also a cultural icon.
Leah Chase’s legacy in the culinary world is cemented through these works, which continue to inspire and educate future generations about the art of Creole cooking and the rich history it carries.
Yes, Leah Chase authored “The Dooky Chase Cookbook” and “And Still I Cook.” These books are celebrated for their rich collection of Creole recipes.
“The Dooky Chase Cookbook” features a wide array of Creole recipes, including classics like Shrimp Clemenceau, Creole Gumbo, Jambalaya, Fried Chicken, and Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce.