• Tommy Centola

Recipes from Palace Cafe cookbook

A while back, I wrote about the first family of New Orleans restaurants, the Brennans. The last line of that article I mentioned one day writing about Dickie Brennan. Today is that day.

Dickie currently owns four restaurants in the French Quarter, Palace Cafe, Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse, Bourbon House, and Tableau. What makes Dickie stand out from the rest of the family is the fact that he is the only trained chef in the family. He started apprenticing under Paul Prudhomme at Commander’s Palace. He also spent time in Mexico and New York City learning his craft. After a year in France, he came home to open Palace Cafe in 1991. He has since stepped out of the executive chef role into the traditional family position of managing his empire.

Today I will share with you recipes from his Palace Cafe cookbook: Crabmeat au Gratin, Pasta St. Charles and Cafe au Lait Creme Brulée.

Crabmeat au Gratin has numerous variations. You can use almost any type of cheese you wish. I have seen many versions that have mushrooms in them. I like mine without mushrooms to make the crabmeat the star of the dish.


Crabmeat au Gratin

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

4 ounces Port Salut cheese, chopped

4 ounces Romano cheese, grated

1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat

1 cup green onions, chopped

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350℉.

Bring the cream to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the cheeses. Heat until the cheeses melt, stirring constantly.

Strain the cheese sauce over the crabmeat in a large mixing bowl. Add the green onions, and toss lightly to avoid breaking up the crabmeat. Season with kosher salt and cracked black pepper and toss lightly.

Spoon into ramekins and top with the breadcrumbs. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the crabmeat is heated through and the bread crumbs are toasted.

Note: Cracked Blacked Pepper is freshly ground Pepper.

Pasta St. Charles appears frequently as a lunch special. St. Charles Avenue is the tree lined street on which the Street Cars travel. This street has many mansions in the Uptown and Garden districts of the city. It is also home to my high school De La Salle, which Dickie graduated from a year before I did.

Pasta St. Charles

2 cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons Creole mustard

12 ounces andouille sausage

2 tablespoons butter

16 ounces jumbo (21-25 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 tablespoons garlic, minced

1 teaspoon Creole seasoning

8 ounces penne pasta, cooked al denté

2 tablespoons butter, chilled

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Green onions, sliced for garnish

Parmesan cheese, grated for garnish

Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until reduces by 1/2. Whisk in the Creole mustard and remove from the heat.

Cut the sausage into halves lengthwise and then slice. Sauté in 2 tablespoons butter in a large sauté pan for 1 minute. Add the shrimp, garlic and Creole seasoning. Sauté for 5 minutes or until the shrimp are cooked through.

Stir in the reduced cream sauce. Fold in the pasta and 2 tablespoons chilled butter to richen the sauce. Season with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Garnish servings with the green onions and Parmesan cheese.

Creme Brulée is on of my favorite desserts, to eat and to make. This coffee flavored recipe calls for it being cooked in a large pan. You can also prepare them in individual servings.

Cafe au Lait Creme Brulée

1 quart heavy cream

1/3 cup coarsely ground Espresso beans

3/4 cup sugar

11 egg yolks

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon Turbinado (raw) sugar

Preheat oven to 225℉.

Combine the whipping cream and ground espresso beans in a heavy small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar until dissolved. Whisk the egg yolks and vanilla gently in a large bowl. Whisk in the warm cream mixture gradually. Pour through a fine strainer into another bowl, check for coffee grains and re-strain if necessary.

Pour the mixture into a 9x12-inch baking dish. Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the custard is set enough to jiggle as a unit when the dish is tapped; the center should still be slightly liquid. Cool to room temperature and chill, covered in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours or until set.

Before serving, sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. Caramelize the sugar with a small kitchen torch and serve.

If you are in New Orleans, a meal at any of Dickie’s restaurants will be a highlight of your trip.


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