• Tommy Centola

Gone, but good recipes, not forgotten

New Orleans is full of culinary characters. Frank Davis certainly falls into this category. His love and knowledge of South Louisiana has enriched many kitchens in the area.

Frank started his media career as a live sportsman’s radio talk show, following a brief stint with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. From radio, he transitioned to fish and game reports on WWL-TV. His subject matter shifted to on-air featured stories and interviews as his subject matter expanded from fishing in South Louisiana to New Orleans Mardi Gras and the cuisine of New Orleans.

Frank wrote 4 cookbooks. One of his culinary legacies is a style of cooking that I use often, bronzing, a toned-down version of blackening. He created a line of seasonings that are still flying off the shelves in Louisiana. His Franksgiving special was always must watch TV.

Unfortunately, Frank passed away in 2103. His recipes, however, have not. His culinary papers were donated to the SoFab Culinary Library and Institute. SoFab, the Southern Food and Beverage museum is located in New Orleans. While in the museum planning stages, I was the Curator for the Arkansas exhibit, assisting with food related questions about the Natural State.

Frank was known for his Crawfish dishes. As you can see from the ingredients of this dish, he was not a trained chef. His use of pre-made soups makes his recipes easily accessible to the home cook. His flavors, however, were always spot-on.

Crawfish LaCreme

2 cups Onions, chopped

2 cups Mushrooms, chopped

4 cloves Garlic, finely chopped

1 stick (8 tablespoons) Butter

1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup

1 can Cream of Chicken Soup

1 can Cream of Celery Soup

1 1/2 cans Evaporated Milk

1 1/2 cans Skim Milk

1 pound mild Mexican Velveeta Cheese, cubed

2 packages Frozen Broccoli, chopped, cooked and drained

1 pound Louisiana Crawfish Tails and Fat

2 teaspoons Frank Davis Seafood Seasoning or Creole Seasoning, more or less to taste

1/2 cup Flat Leaf Parsley, minced

Sauté onions, mushrooms and garlic in butter until mixture wilts and clears. Immediately stir in all three soups, plus evaporated milk and skim milk. When mixture begins to bubble, drop in cheese; slowly stir until completely melted. Then add broccoli, crawfish tails and fat. Stir together until chowder is hot and bubbly.

When you are ready to eat, sprinkle in Seafood Seasoning to taste. Then ladle chowder into deep soup bowls, garnish with a pinch of parsley, and serve with hot French Bread.

Arguably an Amish recipe, buttermilk pie surprises almost everyone who cuts a slice of it and settles down to it for dessert. Creamy, sweet, and somewhat toasty, it goes great after almost any entree from beef to pork to chicken to seafood. And the best part is. . .it's not all that difficult to make!

Simple Buttermilk Pie


1/2 cup unsalted Butter, melted

1-1/2 cups granulated Sugar

3 whole Eggs, well beaten

1 teaspoon pure Vanilla

3 tablespoons All-purpose Flour

1 pinch Salt

1 cup Buttermilk at room temperature

1 deep dish Pie Shell

Start off by preheating the oven to 400 degrees. If you have a convection heat, use it for this pie to toast up the top (and make sure the rack is in the center of your oven).

Now while waiting for the temperature to reach the proper degree, beat the melted butter and the granulated sugar together until it turns a pale yellow. Then drop in the eggs and beat them into the butter and sugar. When they're incorporated, whisk in the vanilla until it, too, becomes uniformly mixed into the batter. At this point it's time to combine the flour and the salt in a separate bowl and sift it gradually into the mixture, alternating it with the buttermilk. Then beat everything together once more until velvety smooth. All that's left is to pour the fully blended batter into a 9-inch deep-dish pie crust and bake the resultant pie at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Then. . .reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for 50-60 minutes more. When it's done, the pie will turn a rich golden brown, toasted in the style of a Creme Brulee. It's done to perfection when a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

There is only one way to end an article on Frank Davis, by using his tag line. He was definitely “Naturally N’Awlins”.

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