Five Seasons of Louisiana Cooking
Celebrate autumn with seasonal recipes, decorating and inspiration from your local farmers market.
In the foreward to Five Seasons, Chef John Folse writes that as a boy growing up in St. James Parish, he “knew the seasons by what was growing in the garden and what wild game or seafood dish appeared on the dinner table.” Louisiana State University graduates and foodies Erin Nugent and Lauren Beth Landry present the best of Louisiana’s food seasons in their new cookbook — organized by Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer and a lagniappe fifth season of dishes that can be favorites year-round.
We asked this pair of refined ladies to share they’re most looking forward to cooking — and sourcing — for fall, along with a few decorating ideas inspired by the season.
How did the Five Seasons brand and cookbook come about?
We both come from Louisiana families that are passionate about food so we have always enjoyed cooking. We also live in a very rich agrarian culture with tons of local farms. Lauren and I love attending the farmer’s market and are very sensitive to eating ingredients and using materials that are in season. In doing so, we are forced to explore the versatility of various seasonal items, which means we end up cooking a certain ingredient many different ways. For example, our Carrot Paloma and our Herb Crusted Snapper over Carrot Puree or experimenting with the styling of seasonal foliage — cotton is so versatile. When our husbands suggested we start writing some of their favorite recipes down, the cookbook was born.
However, we soon realized that certain ingredients were viable year-round (such as those in our Brown Butter Lemon Pork Chops or Bananas Foster Milkshake) so we developed the “Fifth Season,” a collection of our perennial favorites. The name Five Seasons followed naturally.
People often joke that our seasons in Louisiana are more tied to football, Mardi Gras and festivals than actual changing of the weather. Why was breaking the cookbook up into seasons important to you, and how would you describe the state’s “food” seasons?
While it is true that we pride ourselves on our seasonal festivities, these festivals are often centered around food. Additionally, certain items are celebrated in their own right and help to define the season in which they flourish.
We get so excited at the turn of each season thinking of the following ingredients and dishes that are basically an excuse to party. In the fall, dove and duck bombs are a tailgating favorite; in the winter, we love to have people over for oysters (grilled, raw or Rockefeller style); in spring, crawfish boils bring people together nearly every weekend; and by the end of summer, I can’t even fathom attending another fish fry.
In short, the festivities and the food go hand in hand — you can’t have one without the other.
The cookbook opens with autumn and season-appropriate recipes with ingredients like squash, brussels sprouts, mirliton, pecans and sweet potatoes. What do you love most about fall and what are some of your favorite dishes to make as the weather turns cooler?
What we love most about fall applies to all the seasons — it is the excitement of a new season and the ingredients and festivities that go along with it. For fall, we love football (read: tailgating!), our annual dove hunt, cooler temperatures and Halloween.
Venison tacos are probably the most prevalent dish. We love celebrating Taco Tuesday at our best friend Kallie’s house. The Pumpkin Bourbon Hot Chocolate with Maple Whipped Cream is also an autumn staple.
Five Seasons also offers styling assistance. Could you share a few quick tips for styling a holiday table using seasonal materials?
Greenery, greenery, greenery! Use whatever is fresh and growing in your yard to showcase your seasonal item. Right now, we’re using a lot of pumpkins and antlers. The greenery really helps these materials pop.
Photos courtesy of Five Seasons.