The Kitchen Table Cookbook By Brennan's Of Houston Executive Chef Randy Evans
For 15 years, Brennan's of Houston (3300 Smith St.) has welcomed guests into the heart of its legendary kitchen for an unforgettable meal at the Kitchen Table, situated in the middle of its bustling kitchen. Often credited as one of the first restaurants in the nation to offer a "chef's table", some of the greatest meals and memories in Brennan's of Houston almost 40-year history have been served behind the doors of the kitchen. This November, Executive Chef Randy Evans brings the Brennan's culture of Southern hospitality and outstanding Texas-Creole cuisine to new kitchens with The Kitchen Table (Bright Sky Press, $29.95).
Located in the historic former Junior League building, Brennan's of Houston is one of the city's most beloved restaurants. Pioneering the art of New Orleans cuisine with a Texas accent, and always offering lagniappe - "a little something extra" - to its guests, Brennan's strives to always create a memorable dining experience.
In his warm and conversational foreword, Alex Brennan-Martin, President of Brennan's of Houston, relates the story of how the Kitchen Table - which seats up to 10 guests and is always booked months in advance - came into existence in 1991 when the removal of an obsolete piece of kitchen equipment revealed precious extra space, allowing the rare opportunity for Brennan's to do something extraordinary in its kitchen. Childhood recollections of parties at his Aunt Adelaide's home in New Orleans' Garden District, where he watched the adults crowd into her kitchen for food, cocktails and conversation, provide the perfect backdrop for the study in Southern hospitality that follows.
Working with nearly 40 years' worth of menus, The Kitchen Table presents 83 recipes, varying from the bounties of the season to the classics. Bursting with Brennan's sincere passion for creating lasting memories and always giving a little something extra, the cookbook is divided into nine chapters: Lagniappe; Soup; Salad; Charcuterie; Seafood; Meat; Cheese; Dessert and "Open Kitchen" (cocktails and hors d'oeuvres).
The Kitchen Table opens with the Lagniappe chapter, the definition of Southern hospitality that is the cornerstone of Brennan's Kitchen Table. Each recipe offers a tasty surprise: Brennan's Brunch Hussard; Smoked Catfish Mousse; Shrimp Beignets; Tempura Crab-Stuffed Squash Blossoms; Creole Gravlax and Crawfish Maque Choux with Jalapeqo Corn Pound Cake.
The second chapter, Soups, divulges the creative techniques of Chef Evans with recipes like Brennan's Gazpacho; Crawfish Tortilla Soup; Smoked Chicken and Watercress Soup and Red Beans and Rice Soup, a fun twist on a classic Louisiana dish - Chef Evans' purees the ingredients and tops it off with wild rice relish.
Salads, "the expression of the season," says Chef Evans, offers up nine fresh recipes such as Texas Peach; Heirloom Tomato; Warm Spinach with Charred Wild Mushrooms and Bacon and Duck Confit Bistro.
The fourth chapter, Charcuterie, accompanied by six canning recipes to serve as accoutrements is one of Chef Evans' more recently developed passions and one that often leaves the Kitchen Table guests in wonderment. Championing both of these long-neglected processes, Chef Evans offers straightforward tips on the art of cured meats and canning alongside his recipes for Honey-Cured Bacon; Tasso Ham; Wild Boar Terrine; Lamb and Rosemary Sausage; Pancetta; Venison and Shiner Bock Sliders; and Cider-Poached Foie Gras Torchon, followed by Satsuma Orange Jelly; Prickly Pear Jelly; Satsuma Marmalade; Texas Peach Preserves; Mayhaw Jelly and Jalapeqo Bread-and-Butter Pickles.
On to Seafood, which showcases Chef Evans' ability to turn out strikingly refined and creative recipes that always give a nod to the classic Creole dishes put forth by his predecessors at Bren
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