“Gumbo: a SAVOR THE SOUTH cookbook” by Dale Curry

114-page hardcover

“Shrimp: a SAVOR THE SOUTH cookbook” by Jay Pierce

116-page hardcover

“Catfish: a SAVOR THE SOUTH cookbook” by Paul Knipple and Angela Knipple

All from University of North Carolina Press, $18

140-page hardcover

Gumbo, shrimp and catfish, all favorites of Louisiana diners, are the topics of the three latest additions to the University of North Carolina Press’ wonderful “Savor the South” series of cookbooks that looks at the favorite foods and culinary traditions of the American South.

Like the earlier volumes in the planned 24-book series, each of the three little books (they are only 83/4 inches by 51/2 inches) contains about 50 clearly and concisely written, easy-to-follow recipes, but no photographs and no nutritional information.

Of the three books, “Gumbo: a SAVOR THE SOUTH cookbook” probably will generate the most interest locally. That’s because it’s written by Dale Curry, the Times-Picayune food editor for 20 years who now writes about food for New Orleans Magazine.

All three books open with a short introduction and offer a bit of history with their recipes.

In her “Gumbo” book, Curry also explains the difference between Cajun and Creole cooking and offers a few rules for cooking gumbo, like never add filé while the gumbo is cooking. But, don’t expect four dozen recipes for gumbo. Curry provides 16 gumbo recipes, including a roux-less version and others featuring quail, catfish and cabbage. The remainder of the book includes recipes for jambalaya and a “lagniappe” section with such recipes as alligator sauce piquant, crawfish bisque and turtle soup.

Jay Pierce is a Louisiana native, so I was surprised that he chose to open his “Shrimp: a SAVOR THE SOUTH cookbook” with a recipe that uses rhubarb in the sauce on his bacon-wrapped shrimp brochettes.

A restaurant chef in Charlotte, North Carolina, Pierce offers an eclectic collection of recipes from shrimp ceviche to bisque and étouffée dishes that both use brandy.

Paul and Angela Knipple, who grew up in the Memphis, Tennessee, area, discuss how to catch, buy and prepare catfish in their cookbook, “Catfish: a SAVOR THE SOUTH cookbook.”

They offer recipes for frying catfish, for using catfish in appetizers, in soups and stews, salads and sandwiches and as entrées, such as Beer-Battered Catfish and Chips and Jerk Catfish. They also include a few “go-with” recipes, like tartar sauce, Hushpuppies and something they call Cajun Cabbage, which is flavored with Cajun seasonings and andouille.

Cookbook signing

Author Jyl Benson and photographer Sam Hanna will be at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, 1504 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 21, to promote and sign copies of their new book, “Fun, Funky & Fabulous” (Pelican Publishing). Fulton Alley chef Michael Nirenberg also will be on hand with samples of his recipe for Andouille Tots, which is featured on the book’s cover.

Cheramie Sonnier is The Advocate’s food editor. Her email address is csonnier@theadvocate.com.

Shrimp and Okra Gumbo

Serves 8. Recipe is from “Gumbo: a SAVOR THE SOUTH cookbook” by Dale Curry. Copyright ©2015 by University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press, www.uncpress.unc.edu. “Creoles and Cajuns have long survived on this basic gumbo, and there is none better. The ingredients are pure Louisiana. Use fresh okra and shrimp if available, but frozen will run a close second. The only accompaniments needed are rice and French bread.”

3 pounds small-to-medium shrimp in shells with heads or 1½ pounds peeled and de-veined frozen shrimp, thawed

1 pound fresh okra, cut into ¼-inch pieces, or frozen cut okra, thawed

1 tablespoon plus ½ cup vegetable oil, divided

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 large onion, chopped

1 bunch green onions, chopped, white and green parts separated

1 green bell pepper, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 quarts shrimp stock or water

1½ teaspoons Creole seasoning

2 bay leaves

½ teaspoon dried thyme

¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Cooked long-grain white rice, for serving

French bread

1. If using fresh shrimp, de-head, peel, and de-vein them, placing the shells and heads in a medium pot. Add enough water to cover the shells by at least 2 inches and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes. When slightly cooled, strain the stock into a large measuring cup and discard the shells.

2. If using fresh okra, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium-to-large skillet. Over medium heat, cook the okra, stirring occasionally, until the stringy liquid disappears. Set aside.

3. Heat the remaining oil in a large, heavy pot over high heat. Add the flour and stir constantly until the roux begins to brown. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the roux is the color of milk chocolate. Add the onions and the white parts of the green onions and cook, stirring, until the onions begin to caramelize. Add the bell pepper and celery and cook until wilted. Add the garlic and cook a minute more.

4. Add the tomatoes and gradually stir in the stock or water. Add all the seasonings except the parsley, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the shrimp and simmer until the shrimp turn pink, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add green onion tops and parsley and remove the bay leaves.

5. Serve in bowls over hot rice with hot French bread.

Esma’s Shrimp Stew

Serves 8. Recipe is from “Shrimp: a SAVOR THE SOUTH cookbook” by Jay Pierce. Copyright ©2015 by University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press, uncpress.unc.edu. Pierce writes, “My mother’s grandmother was the benchmark cook in our family; everyone still compares their cooking to hers. Esma Richoux was born in LaRose, Louisiana, where she was head of the household by the age of 16. After relocating to the suburbs of New Orleans with her husband, Norba Trosclair, she hosted all of our family’s memorable meals. She was allergic to shrimp, so this is based on her chicken stew recipe. My mother, Collette Boudreaux, loves shrimp, so she omitted the lima beans and chicken and added shrimp.”

¾ cup canola oil

¾ cup all-purpose flour

1 medium onion, chopped

¾ cup chopped celery

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small green bell pepper, chopped

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup water

2 teaspoons kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon thyme

4 bay leaves

1 tablespoon Creole seasoning

2 pounds large shrimp (26?30), peeled

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1. Combine the oil and flour in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Stir, slowly and constantly, until the roux is the color of chocolate, 20-30 minutes. Add the onion, celery, garlic and bell pepper; mix well, and remove from the heat.

2. When the vegetables stop sizzling and producing steam, transfer the mixture to a Dutch oven or similar-sized heavy-bottomed pot. Gradually add the chicken stock. (You may add water as needed — the stew should be thinner now than you want the end result to be).

3. Add the salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaves and Creole seasoning. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the shrimp and simmer for 15–20 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and add the parsley in the last few minutes. Serve over rice.

Catfish Burgers

Serves 4. Recipe is from “Catfish: a SAVOR THE SOUTH” cookbook by Paul and Angela Knipple. Copyright © 2015 by Paul and Angela Knipple. Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press. uncpress.unc.edu. The authors write, “With its moist, flaky texture, catfish makes a great substitute for crab in crab cake recipes. Instead of getting fancy, this recipe makes hearty patties perfect for burgers. You could plate these as catfish cakes — a dollop of tartar sauce and you’re set — but that just wouldn’t be as much fun. … These burgers are based on the famous shrimp burgers of the South Carolina coast.”

1 pound catfish fillets, diced

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup panko bread crumbs

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons diced celery

1 tablespoon grated sweet onions

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

11?2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cayenne pepper

3 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil

To serve:

4 large hamburger buns


Tomato slices

Tartar sauce or coleslaw

1. In a medium bowl, combine the catfish, eggs, panko, mayonnaise, celery, onions, parsley, lemon zest and Worcestershire sauce, stirring with a wooden spoon until everything is evenly distributed. Season with salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper to taste.

2. Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions and form patties about 1 inch thick.

3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the patties for 4 minutes, or until the bottoms are browned, before carefully flipping them over. Cook for another 4 minutes so both sides are browned. Serve on soft buns with lettuce, tomato, and tartar sauce or coleslaw.