“The tradition of colorful beads and elaborate parades now stretches from New Orleans, Louisiana to all across the country. Mardi Gras is one of the fastest growing celebrations in the world and a great excuse to enjoy Cajun flavors. Ingredients such as shrimp, and bread pudding, and Louisiana yams are all representative of this unique cuisine. Everyone assumes that Louisiana food is hot and spicy, but I prefer to call it ‘well seasoned.’”
Prepare to host the party of a lifetime with perfect decorations and a star-studded Mardi Gras menu. Consider these Mardi Gras party food suggestions and recipes to help you plan your Carnival party.
Mardi Gras Food Suggestions
Depending on the amount of time you have and your own creativity, the food possibilities at your Mardi Gras party are virtually limitless. Baton Rouge based cookbook author of the trim&TERRIFIC cookbook series Holly Clegg offers the following Mardi Gras party food recipes from her latest book, trim&TERRIFIC Gulf Coast Favorites.
Mardi Gras Salad Recipe
“Get in the spirit with this festive salad of oranges, bacon, carrots, red onions, and green spinach representing Mardi Gras colors with a delicious slightly sweet dressing,” says author Holly Clegg. “Make the dressing ahead of time, have the salad ingredients ready to mix together, and toss when ready to serve.”
Makes 8- 10 servings
2 teaspoons finely chopped onion
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground dry mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1 head red tip lettuce, washed, drained and torn into pieces
1 (10-ounce) package baby spinach, washed and drained
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 (11-ounce) cans mandarin oranges, drained
1/3 cup shredded carrots
4 slices center cut bacon, crisply fried and crumbled
1. In a small bowl, whisk together onion, vinegar, sugar, mustard and olive oil.
2. Refrigerate until ready to toss salad.
3. In large salad bowl, combine lettuce, spinach, red onion, mandarin oranges, carrots and bacon.
4. Toss dressing with salad when ready to serve.
Terrific Tip: Cook bacon in the microwave for crispy bacon without the fat. Drain on paper towels after cooking. Center cut bacon is a better choice to use.
Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya Recipe
“Of course, the best jambalaya is prepared in huge black cast iron pots, but here’s a quick home version that is equally good,” shares Clegg. “I used chicken and sausage but add pork or ham, if desired. This Louisiana favorite serves as a great family one-dish meal or is perfect for a large crowd.”
Makes 6-8 servings
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
14 ounces reduced fat smoked sausage, sliced ½ inch thick
2 cups chopped onion
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 cups rice
3 cups canned beef broth
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1. In large pot coated with nonstick cooking spray, brown chicken over medium heat until done, turning constantly.
2. Remove and set aside.
3. In same pot, coat with nonstick cooking spray and cook sausage until lightly browned.
4. Remove and set aside.
5. Coat the same pot with nonstick cooking spray and sauté onion, pepper, and garlic until tender about 5-7 minutes, scraping brown bits from bottom of pan. This adds color to the jambalaya.
6. Add rice, broth, chili powder, thyme, cayenne, salt and pepper, browned chicken and sausage and bring to a boil.
7. Lower heat, cover, and continue cooking until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 25- 30 minutes.
8. Uncover, stir in green onions, and continue cooking over medium heat another 5 minutes.
Terrific Tip: When sautéing the chicken and sausage, the brown bits that stick to the pan give the jambalaya the lovely brown color and will come up when the broth is added. A secret tip is some add a little Kitchen Bouquet for that rich brown color.
Shrimp, Corn, and Sweet Potato Soup Recipe & Beignets…
Shrimp, Corn, and Sweet Potato Soup Recipe
“These wonderful ingredients blend to make a savory, satisfying soup,” Clegg says. “Put this recipe at the top of your list.”
Makes 12 servings
1 red onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cups diced peeled Louisiana yams, (sweet potatoes)
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen corn
1 (15-ounce) can cream-style corn
1 (10-ounce) can chopped tomatoes and green chilies
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
4 cups fat-free canned chicken broth
1.5 pounds peeled medium shrimp
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped green onions, optional
1. Coat large pot with nonstick cooking spray, and sauté onion, celery, garlic, and green pepper until tender.
2. Add sweet potato, frozen corn, cream-style corn, tomatoes and green chilies, tomato paste, and broth; bring mixture to boil.
3. Add shrimp, bring to boil, reduce heat and continue cooking until shrimp are done, about 10 minutes.
4. Season with salt and pepper; garnish with green onions, if desired, and serve.
Tips for Making Homemade Beignets
New Orleans’ legendary Café du Monde confided that they use 100% cottonseed oil to create their popular beignets. Burt Benrud, vice president of Café du Monde, explains that cottonseed oil is ideal for creating beignets because it can reach extremely high temperatures without burning.
“Arriving at a high temperature, around 370 degrees, is a crucial step,” Benrud says. “Use the count test to determine if the cottonseed oil is hot enough. If the dough rises to the top of the oil within eight seconds, it’s ready. Café du Monde uses giant fryers and gallons of oil. At home, most cooks use a smaller skillet and a smaller quantity of oil, which together hold less heat. With smaller beignets, the heat reaches the inside more easily, making them perfectly light and puffy.”
To try out the authentic Mardi Gras style recipe for beignets, please see http://www.cottonseedoiltour.com/mardi-gras.
Burt Benrud is vice president of Café du Monde. For more information, please see http://www.cafedumonde.com.
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