Laura Lane McNeal
Dollbaby, title image



Queenie didn't learn to cook at cooking school. She learned the way many New Orleans cooks do — by watching their mothers or grandmothers in the kitchen. The key to their cooking is improvisation, a willingness to experiment and come up with their own recipes. Many of the recipes you will find in the section are just that, a combination of recipes I have found over the years or recipes I have tweaked to make them better. These are all very traditional New Orleans recipes, most of which combine the African, Creole, Caribbean, Spanish, Indian and other cultural influences that make New Orleans such a melting pot of flavors. Enjoy!

cocktails COCKTAILS
(All are for one serving unless otherwise indicated)

Old Fashioned

Sugar (dash or to taste)
Aromatic Bitters such as Angostura (one or more dashes)
2 to 3 ounces Bourbon or Rye Whiskey (whichever you prefer

Pour above ingredients in an old fashioned or double old fashioned glass (a tumbler with straight sides and a thick bottom, but any glass will do). Stir well. Add ice if preferred. May also add an orange twist if using bourbon and a lemon twist if using rye.


1 ¼ ounce brandy
3 ounces half and half
1 teaspoon confectioners sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients except nutmeg in a glass and stir. Top with ground nutmeg.

Here is a simple recipe for a bourbon based milk punch using ice cream that is good for a crowd:

1 quart vanilla ice cream
½ gallon milk
2-3 cups bourbon
vanilla to taste

Mix above ingredients in a large pitcher or container. (It's easier if ice cream is left out to soften.) Sprinkle a dash of nutmeg in each glass when poured. Best if made a day ahead. I often empty ½ gallon containers of milk to make this recipe. This makes about one gallon.


Pimm's Cup

2 ounces Pimm's Cup Number 1 (a gin based liqueur with the flavor of fruit and spice)
2 to 3 ounces lemonade
splash of club soda or 7-Up
cucumber slice

Pour all ingredients into a tall glass such as a Collins glass. Add Ice. Mix. Add cucumber slice for garnish.



Originated in New Orleans in 1838 by the owner of an apothecary, Antoine Peychaud, who would mix this drink with bitters he made himself using a double-ended egg cup called a "coquetier", which was pronounced ko-k-tay, which is where the word cocktail was derived. For more information on the origination of this cocktail go to

1 cube sugar
1 ½ ounces rye whiskey (such as Sazerac) or bourbon
¼ ounce Herbsaint
3 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
lemon peel

Pack an old fashioned glass with ice. In another old fashioned glass, place the sugar cube, add the bitters, then crush the sugar cube in the bitters. Add the whiskey or bourbon to the glass with the sugar and bitters. Then empty the ice from the first glass and coat it with the Herbsaint, discarding any extra floating at the bottom. Finally, empty the glass with the whiskey and bitters into the Herbsaint coated glass and garnish with a lemon peel.

appetizers APPETIZERS

Queenie's Famous Deviled Eggs

6 eggs
1/3 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon horseradish mustard
5 teaspoons mayonnaise
a few drops of hot sauce such as Tabasco or Crystal
¼ teaspoon onion juice
a few sprigs of parsley

Place eggs in a saucepan of cold water, bring to a hard boil, then reduce heat while letting eggs boil slowly for about 15 minutes. When done, run cold water into pan to cool eggs off then peel under cold running water. Cut eggs lengthwise and place yolks into a bowl. Mash yolks with a fork and add mayo and other ingredients except parsley and paprika. Mix well. If too dry, add more mayo. Fill the egg white halves with the mixture. Sprinkle lightly with paprika and garnish with parsley. Serves 6.


Cheese Puffs (Gougeres)

½ cup butter
1 cup water
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 cup (plus 2 tablespoons to top the puffs) of shredded natural sharp cheese
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a medium saucepan, combine butter and water and cook over moderate heat until mixture comes to a boil. Combine flour and salt and add to pan. Stir constantly over low heat until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat and beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, then stir in cheese until blended. Drop cheese batter by heaping tablespoons onto a greased cookie sheet so that they form a circle with sides touching. It will make 12 to 14 tablespoons. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 40 minutes. Turn off oven and let sit another ten minutes. Break puffs apart and serve. Serves 6.


Queenie's Redfish Courtbouillon (Fish Stew)

5 pounds redfish (red snapper or catfish may be substituted)
1 cup water
salt, black pepper and red pepper
1 cup bacon drippings
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
6 stalks celery, chopped
1 can tomato paste
1 can water
1 cup red wine
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 bunch parsley, chopped
6 bay leaves
sweet basil
¼ teaspoon oregano

Cut the thick meaty part of the fish into two-inch squares and set aside. Cook the remainder of the fish (head, bones and small bits of meat left on the fish) in a cup of water seasoned with salt and pepper to make fish stock. Remove head and bones and reserve stock. In an iron pot, sauté the onion, celery, and bell pepper in the bacon drippings slowly until they are no longer opaque, but do not brown them. Add tomato paste, the can of water, the cooled fish stock, then add the wine and the remainder of the seasonings. Add garlic and herbs. Cook two hours at a very low temperature. Then add the squares of fish and cook at the most twenty minutes as you do not want the fish squares to fall apart. Serve over hot rice. Serves 6 to 8.


Stuffed Mirliton

4 large mirliton (vegetable pears)
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
½ cup chopped celery
3 tablespoons shortening
¾ pound fresh cooked shrimp, cleaned and peeled
½ cup grated sharp cheese
¼ cup buttered breadcrumbs
salt and pepper to taste

Parboil mirliton until almost tender but not soft. Cut in half and scoop out insides. Set aside. Sauté onion and garlic in a heavy skillet until transparent. Add celery and cook until tender. In a separate bowl, mash mirlitons and mix with shrimp and cheese then add to mixture in the skillet. Fill shells with mixture, cover with additional cheese and breadcrumbs and bake at 350 degrees until crumbs are browned. Serves 8.


Seafood Gumbo

Best if made a day ahead and stored overnight in the refrigerator, so the flavors have time to marry, as Queenie would say, then heat until warm at serving time.

2 pounds shrimp (can also add ½ pint oysters and a pint of crabmeat, as well as sausage if desired)
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups okra, chopped, or 1 tablespoon gumbo file seasoning
2 onions, chopped
2 tablespoons oil
1 can of tomatoes
2 quarts water
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
optional: garlic and red pepper

Peel and devein uncooked shrimp. Make a dark roux of flour and oil. Make a roux by adding flour to oil in a saucepan and heating until it becomes thick by stirring constantly!

Note: Don't burn the flour, because if you do, you will have to start over or the gumbo will taste like burnt flour. You can smell it if it burns, believe me! If you don't feel like making a roux, some stores now carry pre-made roux in a jar.

Add shrimp to the roux and stir until the shrimp are pink then set aside away from the heat. In another large pot, smother okra and onions in oil over low heat. Add tomatoes when okra is nearly cooked. Then add the water, bay leaf, garlic, salt and pepper. Then add shrimp and roux mixture to this. Cover and cook slowly for 30 minutes. Note: if not using okra, add file seasoning after turning off heat. Serve with rice that is added to gumbo at serving time. Serves 6 to 8.



Originally an African dish of ham (jamba) and rice (paella), it can be made ahead and is good for a crowd.

1 pound smoked sausage, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ pound seasoning ham, chopped into chunks
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon Worcestershire
½ teaspoon soy sauce
¼ teaspoon red pepper (less if you don't want it too spicy)
2 ½ cups water
1 cup uncooked rice
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon granules
1 1/2 pounds raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

Brown sausage. Stir in onion, bell pepper, garlic, ham and spices and stir until softened. Add water, rice and bouillon. Bring to boil and stir well. Cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Add shrimp and cook another ten to fifteen minutes or until shrimp are pink. Serves 6-8 and may be doubled or tripled to serve a crowd. May also add cooked chicken to this recipe along with the sausage if desired.


Red Beans and Rice

Traditionally served on Mondays in New Orleans, which was the designated 'laundry day' in most households, because the beans were an easy dish to put in a pot and cook all day without having to fuss over them.

2 cups red beans
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons seasoned salt
1 bay leaf
1 pinch of sugar
red pepper
ham hocks
cooked rice
hot sauce and red wine vinegar to taste

Wash beans, and soak overnight in water, then drain. Cover beans and all ingredients with cold water in a large pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer several hours until beans are soft and water thickens to a soupy consistency. (Can also be done in a crock pot!) May add smoked sausage in the last 30 minutes of cooking. Serve over rice. Serves 6. Add a splash of hot sauce and red wine vinegar to each serving as desired.


Pain Perdu (Lost Bread)

This is a Creole dish that is usually served for breakfast or at a mid-morning meal.

2 eggs
1 cup milk
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon vanilla
6 slices white bread (stale is better)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
confectioners sugar
honey or jam

Beat eggs, then add sugar, nutmeg, and vanilla and mix well. Soak bread in this mixture for a few minutes, then fry in melted butter. Remove from pan and sprinkle with confectioners sugar and serve with jam or honey. Serves 6.


Grits Soufflé

2 cups quick grits
4 cups water
2 cups milk
2 sticks butter
4 eggs
Shredded cheddar, gruyere or gouda cheese optional (about one cup or more if desired to taste but note cheese will make soufflé not as fluffy)

Stir grits into water over medium fire for five minutes. Add milk and butter, cover and cook for about ten minutes. Remove from heat and add beaten eggs. If desired, add cheese at this time. Pour in greased casserole and bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Serves 8.

desserts DESSERTS
Or as Queenie would call it, the hereafter!

Pecan Pie

3 eggs, beaten
1 cup brown sugar
¾ cup dark corn syrup
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 ½ cups pecan halves or pieces
9-inch unbaked pie shell

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix eggs, sugar, syrup, salt, vanilla, butter and pecans. Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake ten minutes. Reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake 35 minutes or until knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Serves 6. Some serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.


Creole Pralines

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons Karo Syrup
4 cups pecan halves

Put all ingredients except pecans in a three-quart saucepan and cook for 20 minutes after mixture begins to boil. Stir occasionally. Then add pecans and cook until the mixture becomes a soft ball when a small portion is dropped into cold water. Stir well then drop by spoonsful onto waxed paper until hardened. Carefully remove wax paper by peeling it back from the pralines.


Old-Fashioned Lace Cookies

2 sticks butter
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1 egg plus another yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup cake flour
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 ½ cups uncooked oats
3 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, then add sugar and blend well. Add eggs, vanilla, flour, salt, soda, oats and milk and beat rapidly until well blended. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Drop mixture from a teaspoon onto cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown. Cool on a wire rack. Finished cooked may be dipped into melted chocolate.


Bread Pudding

½ loaf stale French bread cut into cubes
1 ¼ cups milk
1/3 stick butter
¼ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
½ cup raisins (optional)
Top with Hard Sauce (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Soak stale bread cubes in milk. Melt butter and add eggs, sugar, vanilla and raisins if desired. Mix together by hand is best. Bake in buttered 8-inch baking pan for about 45 minutes. Serve with Hard Sauce. Serves 6.

For Hard Sauce, take four tablespoons of butter that is at room temperature and mix with 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and a few tablespoons of bourbon or brandy. Whisk together until creamy and smooth and pour over bread pudding.

Dollbaby, Laura Lane McNeal