Following her best-selling debut book, Julia Reed’s South, this brand-new cookbook from frequent ED contributor Julia Reed offers recipes, party playlists, and bit of New Orleans history for anyone who wants to throw a spirited Big Easy bash.
($50, Rizzoli; on sale April 30) opens with a little NoLa backstory, including how Creole cooking was influenced by French and African immigrants, and Cajun cooking drew from German settlers’ fresh sausage-making. Reed infuses anecdotes and her inimitable sense of humor into every chapter, telling the reader things like “I’ve put away hundreds of Pimm’s Cups at the ” and “I’ve had countless lunches that have spilled into dinner (I think my record is eight hours, but I am hardly alone in that achievement).”
Reed expertly divides the book by occasions, with menus for a Mardi Gras brunch, an Italian feast, a gumbo lunch, and much more. Cajun and creole classics like Crawfish Etouffée, Seafood Gumbo, and King Cake fill the pages of this beautifully illustrated book, and Reed features fresh new takes like Strawberry Salsa and Cheese Thumbprint Wafers with Hot Pepper Jelly.
One section, called “Heaven in Your Hands,” contains portraits of six of NoLa’s iconic sandwiches—such as Cochon Butcher’s Cochon Muffaletta and Pêche Seafood Grill’s Louisiana Shrimp Roll—and the people who dreamed them up.
And, of course, don’t forget to save room for dessert. The sweets and confections here range from delicious Meringue Shells with Coffee Ice Cream and Orange-Chocolate Sauce to Satsuma Cake with Mascarpone Cream.
Reed accompanies each menu with a playlist sure to set the right mood: Louis Armstrong’s “When the Saints Go Marching In” pairs perfectly with a Mardi Gras brunch; “It’s Raining,” by Irma Thomas, pokes fun at the fickle spring weather during Jazz Fest; and Reed recommends listening to Jimmy Buffett’s “I Will Play for Gumbo” while whipping up a batch of her Seafood Gumbo.
The book is peppered with personal stories from Reed’s time in New Orleans and completed by a resources section at the back that tells readers exactly where to shop for ingredients. The result is more than just a cookbook; it’s equal parts memoir, city guide, and warm invitation into Reed’s home.