Cool Kids Cook: Louisiana


JENNIFER EDWARDS

ELIANA

Cool Kids Cook:  Louisiana

By Kid Chef Eliana with Dianne de Las Casas

Illustrated by Soleil Lisette

Pelican Publishing  Company (Gretna 2013)

Ten-year old Eliana has competed on the series Superchef Kids and has her own global, weekly radio show titled “Cool Kids Cook” on the VoiceAmerica Kids Network. She’s also been profiled as one of 13 Latinos in an exhibit at Southern Food and Beverage Museum. She’s also a featured young chef on the kids’ food website ZisBoomBah.com. Young Eliana gets around, having also cooked with Chef John Besh.  She wants kids to know there’s more to food than chicken nuggets and French fries

In this attractively illustrated book, she shares her Louisiana repertoire with other kids. First, she sets out the recipes that lay the groundwork for Louisiana flavors, like Creole seasoning and “The Trinity,” a “recipe” for onions, bell pepper and celery (it’s chopped, not sautéed, in this recipe; the sautéing comes later). There are “Chef’s Note” sidebars throughout, like the one for roux (including pronunciations of foreign-named dishes like Muffuletta and Remoulade).  There’s a Glossary of Cooking Terms, and illustrations of what the young chef needs to cook—like a saute’ pan and a food processor!

The book doesn’t sound much like it’s written by a kid, and the recipes seem a little strange to a native Louisianan—for example, the Red Beans and Rice recipe makes use of that roux to add to the beans. That’s not the way we roll, as a rule, in Louisiana, but it might get the flavors across if you don’t want to include a ham bone.  Another editing oversight, perhaps, is the recipe for a  Muffuletta, the Sicilian import to New Orleans sandwiches—it calls for “olive salad,” and mentions in the Chef’s Note that the olive salad is what  makes a Muffuletta unique, but fails to include either a recipe for olive salad or a definition. That’s something that non-natives might need to make the recipe-either kids or their parents.

All in all, though, the book includes the usual suspect recipes for Louisiana fare, like Natchitoches meat pies, jambalaya, dirty rice, boudin balls, blackened redfish a la Paul Prudhomme, and pralines.  The illustrations, by Eliana’s sister Soleil Lisette, are charming and attractive, and the photographs are illustrative (although in some cases misleading, as in the photograph accompanying the recipe for Chicken and Sausage Gumbo that includes tomatoes when the recipe doesn’t).

This book will no doubt please Kid Chef Eliana’s fans, and it teaches them a bit about Louisiana fare, but it’s a long way from authentic, and sometimes it’s downright confusing. For example, the recipe for Crab Cakes calls for “16 oz. crab leg, finely chopped.” What exactly does that mean?  It’s not really a book for beginners in the kitchen because it leaves too much information out, but it does serve as an illustration of Louisiana’s greatest culinary hits.  And there’s not a recipe for French fries or chicken fingers anywhere.

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One thought on “Cool Kids Cook: Louisiana

  1. Dear Ms. Jennifer:

    Thank you very much for taking the time to review my cookbook. I wrote all of the recipes in my cookbook, which came out earlier this year when I was twelve years old. I am thirteen years old now and I write and cook recipes every week for my weekly radio show. I actually wrote my first recipe when I was four years old but it was super simple. LOL My nana taught me how to make red beans and rice with a roux. It might not be traditional but it sure is delicious. There are no tomatoes in the gumbo. You may be seeing andouille and red bell peppers in the photo. I used a combination of green and red bell peppers for color. My sister will be ecstatic that you love her illustrations. She is a professional graphic designer and illustrator, and works for a firm in Baton Rouge. My next cookbook comes out in Spring of 2014: Cool Kids Cook: Fresh and Fit. I am so very grateful to SoFAB for all their support. They are listed in my acknowledgments in my first cookbook: Eliana Cooks: Recipes for Creative Kids and in the upcoming cookbook. They have been hosting my cooking demos since I was ten years old! Cooking is my love and I am excited to get kids and families in the kitchen together. It’s definitely what brings my family together. I wish you the best and glad that you share a love of food like I do.

    Bon Appetit,
    Kid Chef Eliana

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