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Louisiana Eats! Keeps It All In The Family

Chris Kehoe
Leah Johnson's niece Elna Stokes, Poppy Tooker and Elna's daughter Suzie Stokes at Leah's Pralines.
Credit Joe Shriner
Poppy interviews Ella Brennan in Ella's Garden District home.

Have you ever noticed how many family business center around food? That’s especially true of the restaurant business! On this week’s Louisiana Eats!, we hear from several multigenerational restaurateurs of note.

Ella Brennan, the matriarch of the Brennan clan, remembers her brother, Owen, founder of the original Brennan’s restaurant. The legendary Ella goes on to discuss her life in restaurants and the superstar chefs who got their start in the Commander’s Palace kitchen, including Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse.

Rick Blount, 5th generation proprietor of Antoine’s, the nation’s oldest continuously operating restaurant, time travels back 175 years to tell the story of founder Antoine Alciatoire and the ensuing restaurateurs who have kept the family jewel alive.

Mark Defilice chef and co-owner of the centennial old Pascal’s Manale relates his family’s history. Then, Elna and Suzie Stokes of Leah’s Pralines serve up sweets from their Vieux Carre candy shop for dessert.

It’s all in the family on this week’s Louisiana Eats!

Shrimp Henican
From Commander’s Palace Kitchen Cookbook

8 appetizer servings

  • 24 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 ounces tasso, cut into twenty-four 1 inch strips
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • Creole seasoning
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup Crystal Hot Sauce Beurre Blanc (see below)
  • ¾ cup Pepper Jelly
  • 12 pieces pickled okra, cut in half top to bottom

Cut a quarter inch deep incision down the back of each shrimp where it has been deveined and place a tasso strip in each incision. Secure with a toothpick. Combine the flour with the Creole seasoning and lightly dredge each shrimp.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and fry the shrimp in the hot oil for about 30 seconds on each side. Shrimp should be firm with a red-brown color. Remove the shrimp and drain briefly on a paper towel. Toss the shrimp with the Crystal Hot Sauce beurre blanc in a bowl, coat thoroughly and remove the toothpicks.

Place a portion of pepper jelly on each of 8 appetizer plates and arrange 3 shrimp on each place, alternating with 3 pieces of pickled okra.

Crystal Hot Sauce Beurre Blanc

Makes ¼ cup

  • ½ cup Crystal Hot Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • Kosher salt to taste

Place the hot sauce, shallots, garlic and cream in a small saucepan. Over medium heat, simmer until reduced by half, stirring frequently. Slowly whip the softened butter, a bit at a time into the pot, being careful not to let the sauce break. (The cream acts as a stabilizer.) Strain and keep the sauce warm. Add salt to taste.

Poppy is the host and executive producer of the weekly show, Louisiana Eats! Food personality, culinary teacher and author, Poppy Tooker is passionate about food and the people who bring it to the table.