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How it's organized: The book starts out with traditional New Orleans sweets like beignets, bananas foster, and king cake. Then it moves on to other southern favorites, grouped by pies/breads, cakes, custards/puddings, ice creams/sorbets, jams/jellies, and lagniappes, which are the little "extras" (candy, etc.) that are a Louisiana tradition.
What we've tried: Last night we made TAG's PB Brownies, really dense brownies with a peanut butter swirl. The recipe was incredibly simple, which worked well on a busy weeknight.
What we've bookmarked: Many of the other recipes are a bit more complicated, but we're dying to make the Gâteau de Sirop, a gingerbread cake soaked with cane syrup. We just need to find authentic cane syrup and we're all set... The old-fashioned Banana Pudding looks amazing. And the Sweet Potato Tart Tatin, above, sounds easy and interesting. Speaking of, here's the recipe:
Sweet Potato Tart Tatin
1 sheet all-butter store-bought puff pastry, thawed
3/4 cup sugar plus 1 tablespoon for pastry
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (try to buy potatoes of relatively even width and few bulges), peeled, ends removed, and sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
Ice cream for serving (optional)
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the puff pastry sheet on your work surface and cut out a 10-inch circle. Set the circle onto the prepared baking sheet. Prick the pastry all over with a fork and refrigerate.
Place 3/4 cup of sugar in a small saucepan and cover with 1/4 cup of water. Gently stir with a spoon to make sure all of the sugar is wet (it should have the consistency of wet sand), place a cover on slightly askew, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Keep the mixture covered until the syrup is clear and producing syrupy-looking medium-size bubbles, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the cover and continue to cook until the sugar is a light butterscotch color and its temperature reaches 320 degrees. Turn off the heat (the sugar will continue to cook in the pan even though the heat is off). Once the temperature reaches 350 degrees (this will take only a few minutes), whisk in the butter, 1/2 tablespoon (1 piece) at a time, waiting until each addition is completely incorporated before adding the next. Stir in the vanilla and the salt, and pour the caramel into a 10-inch cast iron skillet.
Cover the caramel with the sliced potatoes, starting in the center and overlapping in a spiraling outward circle as you go. Top with the puff pastry circle. Beat the egg and the milk together and brush over the pastry, and then sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar. Bake until the edges are deep amber and the pastry is puffed and golden, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a large plate (make sure the diameter of the plate is larger than 10 inches!). Slice into wedges and serve with or without ice cream.
Related: Book Review: Glorious Grits
(Images: Ellen Silverman)