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Norbert's Cheese Bytes

Cheese Bytes November 2007 - Norbert and Susan Spicer

Norbert: Hi, weíre upstairs at The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills and we have Susan Spicer with us. Hello Susan.

Susan: Hello Norbert. Itís been many, many years.

Norbert: How many years?...

Susan: We decided we wouldnít say.

Norbert: Susan is here signing books. She now has a new one called ďCrescent City Cooking.Ē Tell us a little bit about it.

Susan: Ok. Well, "Crescent City Cooking, Unforgettable Recipes From Susan Spicerís New Orleans" is sort of the culmination of my 29 years of cooking professionally, and it contains family recipes, it contains the signature recipes of my two restaurants, Bayona and Herbsaint in New Orleans, as well as other things I learned along the way cooking with other people and at some of the other restaurants I worked at while I was learning.

Norbert: What are some of those influences?

Susan: Well I am a product of a father from Georgia, and a mother from Denmark, so we grew up eating a lot so different kinds of food in my household. My mom is a great cook. Right before we moved to New Orleans, we lived in Holland, so she learned some of the indigenous dishes that were popular over there, and I trained with French chefs, and grew up in New Orleans. So itís New Orleans from a global perspective I suppose you would say.

Norbert: Well, New Orleans is sort of a global perspective...

Susan: It is. The Creole cuisine is a blend of French, Spanish, West Indian and all that, and we have a big Vietnamese population in New Orleans now, so really there are a lot of influences and factors, and of course, thatís all on top of having the great seafood: oysters, crawfish, shrimp, and all that. My style is probably using traditional ingredients in non-traditional ways.

Norbert: Susan and I actually grew up together in New Orleans, went to school at LSUNO. You know that I have to say that New Orleans has the best kitchens, the best restaurants in the United States. Hate to say that, being here in LA...

Susan: Well, itís a very strong and indigenous cuisine.

Norbert: Right.. And the influences are incredible: the Italian, the Spanish, the French, and its own sort of Creole thing. What are some of your favorite dishes in the book?

Susan: Well...

Norbert: Signature dishes...

Susan: Well signature for the restaurant. One of the ones I like the most is a goat cheese crouton with mushrooms and Madera cream. I use a fresh goat cheese, mixed with a tiny bit of butter, spread on a piece of multigrain bread and we trim the crust on that, pop it into the broiler at the last minute till itís really bubbly and brown. I serve that with oysters and shiitake mushrooms, and when I can get some chanterelles we throw those in too...but the mushrooms are sautťed until they are sort of crispy and a nice rich brown. Then we put garlic, shallots, Madeira, kind of a medium dry Madeira, in a pan, the Madeira sort of reduces and the mushrooms absorb it, and you hit it with a little bit of cream at the last minute. Then pour that over the toasted goat cheese, and itís one that you can prepare in a lot of different stages. You can prepare almost all of it ahead of time, then put it all together at the last minute, so itís great for entertaining.

Norbert: Sounds great. What did you make for us here today? That was incredible.

Susan: Thank you. That was a little goat cheese mixed with some fresh herbs and garlic confit, and then spread on a crouton with a little roasted tomato compote.

Norbert: Where are you getting your goat cheese from?

Susan: We buy Judy Schadís Capriole goat cheese thatís from right outside Louisville, Kentucky. Sheís actually in Indiana. So we buy her fresh goat cheese. We use that for several different dishes, and we buy some of her aged goat cheese like the Wabash Cannonball and her old Kentucky Tomme.

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