Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Tabasco Cookbook: Recipes with America's Favorite Pepper Sauce

Title:  The Tabasco Cookbook: Recipes with America's Favorite Pepper Sauce
Author:  Paul McIlhenny and Barbara Hunter
Publication Information:  Clarkson Potter. 2016. 144 pages.
ISBN:  0770435394 / 978-0770435394

Book Source:  I received this book through the Blogging for Books program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Time was when you could tell the length of a marriage by the level of Tabasco Pepper Sauce left in the bottle." [from the original introduction]

Favorite Quote:  "Hot regards from Avery Island!"

A variety of hot sauces, including a variety of Tabasco hot sauces, are a staple in my kitchen. Every person has their favorite, from the red original Tabasco to the green chili Tabasco. In my household, we use hot sauce as a topping for food and also as an ingredient in cooking. As such, I am intrigued whenever I see a cookbook based around such an ingredient. What uses does the book suggest that with that I haven't tried before? What flavor combinations?

I am also intrigued by the history I might learn. The original version of this cookbooks was published in 1993. Even at that time, the book was subtitled 125 Years of America's Favorite Pepper Sauce. That means, at this time, Tabasco sauce has been around for almost 150 years, with a long history on Avery Island, Louisiana and a history of the McIllhenny family.

This version presents a new foreward by Chef John Besh, a preface by the current President and CEO of the McIlhenny Company, and the original introduction written by Paul McIllhenny himself. The two new addtions are not as much about the sauce as they are an homage to Paul McIllhenny who passed away in 2013. Paul McIllhenny's introduction provides a very brief history of how Tabasco sauce came to be. Scattered throughout the book are other brief historical notes such as advertising billboards and the role of Tabasco at the White House dining table.

The remainder of the book is the recipes organized by meal or type of dish:  breakfast and brunch; soups, starters, and drinks; mains; sides and sauces; and desserts. At under a 150 pages, this is not a big book and has fewer than 100 recipes. Many recipes are those you would expect in a book with its roots in the South - Cheesy Grits, Fiery Catfish Fingers, Eula Mae's Cajun Seafood Gumbo, Shrimp Creole, and Judy McIlhenny's Crawfish √©touff√©, to name a few. Others such as Peppery Polenta with Tangy Tomato Sauce, Portobello Nachos, Salmon Steaks with Cucumber Sauce, and Spicy Pumpkin Tart are more unexpected. The recipes seem to cover a variety of dishes and can serve as a starting point for experimentation of your own. Maybe add a little Tabasco sauce to your favorite recipe and see what happens.

Each recipe includes an indication as to the level of heat or piquancy of the recipe. Each is also marked as to whether it is from the "classic" original cookbook or a new addition.  Each recipe has a brief introduction which either explains the dish or gives a short note as to who the dish is named form. Recipes are one to two pages, with a clear ingredient list, number of servings, and paragraph style instructions. The table of contents presents only the main categories of recipes; however, an index includes a listing of recipes. The book ends with an invitation to tour Avery Island, the home of the Tabasco Visitors Center and the Tabasco Country Store.

In our house, we have a tendency to splash a little hot sauce into almost everything, and look forward to trying some new ideas. For me, this book is a piece of history and Americana as is the sauce itself. It would make a cute gift for a fan of Tabasco.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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