Fab Food Friday Fotos: Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday Edition — New Orleans, Cajun, Creole Food & Recipes… Let the Good Times Roll
Posted By Vicki McClure Davidson on March 11, 2011
FOOD. GLORIOUS MARDI GRAS FOOD.
Mardi Gras season began this week, so for this week’s Fab Food Friday Fotos, I’m paying homage to foods that are typically associated with Mardi Gras and with New Orleans and Cajun/Creole cooking. Typically inexpensive, filling, spicy, and delicious dishes… Laissez les bons temps rouler.
The terms “Mardi Gras,” “Mardi Gras season,” and “Carnival season,” in English, refer to events of the Carnival celebrations, beginning on or after Epiphany and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday” (in ethnic English tradition, Shrove Tuesday), referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday.
Related popular practices are associated with celebrations before the fasting and religious obligations associated with the penitential season of Lent. Popular practices include wearing masks and costumes, overturning social conventions, dancing, sports competitions, parades, etc. Similar expressions to Mardi Gras appear in other European languages sharing the Christian tradition. In English, the day is called Shrove Tuesday, associated with the religious requirement for confession before Lent begins.
In many areas, the term “Mardi Gras” has come to mean the whole period of activity related to the celebratory events, beyond just the single day. In some US cities, it is now called “Mardi Gras Day” or “Fat Tuesday”. The festival season varies from city to city, as some traditions consider Mardi Gras the entire period between Epiphany or Twelfth Night and Ash Wednesday. Others treat the final three-day period before Ash Wednesday as the Mardi Gras. In Mobile, Alabama, Mardi Gras-associated social events begin in November, followed by mystic society balls on Thanksgiving, then New Year’s Eve, followed by parades and balls in January and February, celebrating up to midnight before Ash Wednesday. In earlier times parades were held on New Year’s Day. Other cities famous for Mardi Gras celebrations include Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Barranquilla, Colombia, Sydney, Australia, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Quebec City, Canada; Mazatlán, Sinaloa in Mexico; and New Orleans, Louisiana, United States.
Carnival is an important celebration in Catholic European nations. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the week before Ash Wednesday is called “shrovetide”, ending on Shrove Tuesday. It has its popular celebratory aspects as well. Pancakes are a traditional food. Pancakes and related fried breads or pastries made with sugar, fat and eggs are also traditionally consumed at this time in many parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.
When available, several recipes will accompany the “Fab Food Friday Fotos” — at least one money-saving recipe will always be included.
Here’s a super-easy recipe for making funnel cake from the food site iFood:
* 2 beaten eggs
* 1-1/2 cups milk
* 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 cups cooking oil
* Sifted powdered sugar
In mixing bowl, combine eggs and milk. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to egg mixture; beat smooth.
In deep skillet heat oil to 360°.
Covering spout with finger, pour 1/4 cup batter into funnel. Remove finger and release batter into oil in a spiral, starting in center and winding out.
Fry till golden, about 3 minutes. Turn carefully; cook 1 minute more.
Drain on paper toweling; dust with powdered sugar.
Boiled peanuts are a favorite snack in the South. For cooking instructions and fascinating information, visit the I Can Believe I Can Fry blog.
The muffuletta (one of its many spellings) has become the signature sandwich of New Orleans. It is believed that it originated at Central Grocery, in the French Quarter of New Orleans. A traditional muffuletta sandwich consists of one muffuletta loaf, about 10 inches across, that is split horizontally. The loaf is covered with a marinated olive salad, then layers of capicola, salami, pepperoni, emmentaler, ham, and provolone. The sandwich is sometimes heated through to soften the cheese. The size of the resulting sandwich is enough to feed more than one person, and many stores sell quarter- or half-muffulettas. There are many varieties of muffuletta — this recipe comes from The Creole & Cajun Recipe Page:
New Orleanian cook and cookbook author Chiqui Collier was kind enough to share this recipe with me for this site, and says, “It is my pleasure to send you the recipe for the original muffuletta sandwich that was created by the grandfather of a lady i worked with 28 years ago.” (Presumably that was Signor Salvadore.)
“The recipe for the olive salad is the exact way it was given to me. It makes over a gallon, but since your comments indicate that you love it, I’m sure you won’t want to cut it down. It stores very well in the refrigerator for many months and makes great gifts along with the recipe for the sandwich. It does appear in my cookbook, “Cookery N’Orleans Style”.
* For the olive salad:
* 1 gallon large pimento stuffed green olives, slightly crushed and well drained
* 1 quart jar pickled cauliflower, drained and sliced
* 2 small jars capers, drained
* 1 whole stalk celery, sliced diagonally
* 4 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced diagonally
* 1 small jar celery seeds
* 1 small jar oregano
* 1 large head fresh garlic, peeled and minced
* 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1 jar pepperocini, drained (small salad peppers) left whole
* 1 pound large Greek black olives
* 1 jar cocktail onions, drained
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl or pot and mix well. Place in a large jar and cover with 1/2 olive oil and 1/2 Crisco oil. Store tightly covered in refrigerator. Allow to marinate for at least 24 hours before using.
* For the sandwich:
* 1 round loaf Italian bread
* 1/4 pound mortadella, thinly sliced
* 1/4 pound ham, thinly sliced
* 1/4 pound hard Genoa salami, thinly sliced
* 1/4 pound Mozzarella cheese, sliced
* 1/4 pound Provolone cheese,sliced
* 1 cup olive salad with oil
Split a muffuletta loaf or a loaf of Italian bread horizontally. Spread each half with equal parts of olive salad and oil. Place meats and cheeses evenly on bottom half and cover with top half of bread. Cut in quarters. Enjoy!
Serves four timid dieters, two hearty New Orleanians, or one incredible maiale.
Photographer/cook Matthew Mendoza provided these instructions for making the above red beans and rice dish:
Made this for dinner tonight. Used a pressure cooker to save some time. Cubed and fried some bacon and some smoked sausage (I used a linguica, but Andouille would also work), with some onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic. Added a pound of red beans, 1 qt of chicken stock, 1 qt of water, salt, pepper, 3 bay leaves, a tsp of thyme, 2 tbsp of Crystal Cayenne Pepper sauce. Sealed, brought to pressure and cooked.
I accidentally opened twice, when it wasn’t quite ready, and it took me about an hour, but if you keep it under pressure and don’t open it at 25 min and again at 45, like I did, 45 min straight should work, I guess.
I then mashed up some of the beans on the bottom of the pan to thicken. Served over white rice with a garnish of scallions and parsley.
Photographer/cook Tim in Sanhazzy wrote this about the colors used in decorating his King Cake:
The traditional color of Mardi Gras are purple, green, and gold — Justice (purple), Faith (green), and Power (gold).
He also provided this recipe for making King Cake, posted with cool historical info, at Cooking with Herb St. Absinthe:
…Traditionally the cake was baked on Epiphany Eve and served the following afternoon to family and friends. Nowadays the cake is made throughout Carnival season and served until Mardi Gras. By the Middle Ages, veneration of the three wise men had spread throughout Europe and Epiphany became known as The Feast of the Three Holy Kings. The cake was baked in honor of the Magi. According to Wikipedia, related culinary traditions are the tortell of Catalonia, the gâteau des Rois in Provence or the galette des Rois in the northern half of France. Latin Americans, like New Orleanians, place a figure representing the Christ child inside the cake. In other cultures, the king cake might contain a coin, bean, pecan or pea. In New Orleans, the person who receives the piece of cake containing a “baby” must provide the king cake for the next gathering of the season.
* 1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
* 2 packages dry yeast
* 2 teaspoons sugar
* 4 to 5 cups flour
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 2 teaspoons salt
* 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
* 1/2 cup warm milk (105 to 115 degrees)
* 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter, cooled
* 5 egg yolks
* 1/2 cup finely chopped candied citron
* 1 pecan half, uncooked dried bean or King Cake Baby
* 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
* 2 tablespoons lemon juice
* 2 tablespoons water
* Purple, green, and gold sugar crystals
Combine the warm water, yeast and 2 teaspoons sugar in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside to a warm place for about 10 minutes.
Combine the 4 cups of flour, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, nutmeg, lemon rind and add warm milk, melted butter, egg yolks and yeast mixture. Beat until smooth. Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place the dough in a well-greased bowl. Turn once so greased surface is on top. Cover the dough and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 1 1/2 hours).
Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Punch the dough down and place on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle with the citron and knead until the citron is evenly distributed. Shape the dough into a log, about 30 inches long. Place the dough on a buttered baking sheet. Shape into a ring, pinching ends together to seal. Place a well-greased 2-pound coffee can or shortening can in the center of the ring to maintain shape during baking. Press the King Cake Baby, pecan half or dried bean into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough. Cover the ring with a towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the coffee can immediately. Allow the cake to cool. For the glaze: Combine the ingredients and beat until smooth. To assemble, drizzle cake with the glaze. Sprinkle with sugar crystals, alternating colors.
Warn your friends that there is a potential baby/bean inside so there are no broken teeth.
The recipe for this glorious dish of Shrimp Creole and Couscous was provided by photographer/cook Bill Roehl at the South Metro News Source site Lazy Lightning — check out the site for more Southern recipes:
Continuing my recent trend of trying to shake things up in the kitchen, I pulled out another Family Circle recipe to cook up for dinner last night. This time it was their Creole Shrimp and Rice recipe (edited for use in my house).
* 3 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 pound frozen shrimp
* 3 teaspoons creole seasoning (mine was a bit saltier than I like and it was very spicy)
* 1 large green pepper, seeded and chopped
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 4 celery stalks, thinly sliced
* 1 14.5 oz can of stewed tomatoes (mine came with basil, oregano and garlic flavor)
* 1 box Parmesan couscous
Prep the couscous per directions and set to side.
Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over med-high heat in a large frying pan (I used a wok) and add shrimp with 1 teaspoon of creole seasoning. Sauté for two minutes on a side. Remove shrimp and place in bowl off to the side.
Add remaining olive oil, peppers, onion, and celery and cook until mostly soft–about 7 minutes. Scrape up any browned bits off the bottom of the frying pan, add stewed tomatoes and remaining creole seasoning. Simmer uncovered for 5-7 minutes while breaking apart tomatoes with your wooden utensil of choice.
Stir in shrimp and serve over couscous.
While I was quite pleased with this dish, my wife complained that none of the ingredients were her thing. Disappointed at first, I realized this meant only one thing–more for me! This dish had a nice kick, and not too much for my wife surprisingly, but with the creole seasoning I chose, I’ll need to scale it back to knock out some of the salt. I’m a little bummed that I won’t be making this one again any time soon. Boo.
Photographer/cook Chris Freeland made this delectable grilled shrimp po’ boy sandwich… the recipe is from the fun food blog CountryPolitan Cooking:
Day 5 at the beach. Made another trip to Joe Patti and picked up a pound of 26/30 count shrimp. Peeled and deveined them, grilled them brushed with melted butter, and served them on a hoagie with lettuce, tomato, and some Creole Mayo for a simple and delicious lighter take on a classic – a Grilled Shrimp Po’ Boy.
Grilled Shrimp Po’ Boy
* 4 hoagie buns
* 24-30 shrimp, peeled & deveined, heads and tails off
* 2 T butter, melted
* 1/2 lemon
* Salt & pepper to taste
* Creole Mayo
Heat grill to high. Peel and devein shrimp, removing tails. Thread onto skewers and grill, covered, for 2 minutes, brushing with melted butter. Turn and brush other side with butter. Grill for 1-2 minutes more until shrimp are firm, pink, and opaque. Remove from grill.
Squeeze fresh lemon juice over shrimp and serve immediately, 6 or so to a hoagie dressed with lettuce, tomato, and Creole Mayo.
Few dishes capture the distinctive flavors of Creole cooking better than a heaping serving of jambalaya. Photographer/cook letouj wrote this and provided this red jambalaya recipe:
A Creole-style jambalaya with a tomato base, chopped dark meat from some chicken drumsticks, and chorizo sausage from the Troy Pork Store. I roughly followed a recipe published online by Chuck Taggart.
Red Jambalaya Recipe
* 1 lb. boneless chicken, cubed; AND/OR
o 1 lb. shrimp, boiled in Zatarain’s and peeled; OR
o 1 lb. leftover holiday turkey, cubed; OR
o 1 lb. of any kind of poultry or fish, cubed; OR
o Any combination of the above
* 1 lb. (hot) smoked sausage, andouille or chaurice, sliced on the bias; OR
o 1 lb. diced smoked ham
* 1 large onion, chopped
* 1 bell pepper, chopped
* 3 – 6 cloves garlic, minced (amount to taste; I like lots)
* 4 ribs celery, chopped
* 3 small cans tomato paste
* 4 large Creole tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced; OR
o 1 28-oz. can tomatoes
* 8 cups good dark homemade chicken stock
* Creole seasoning blend to taste (or 2 – 3 tablespoons); OR
o 2 teaspoons cayenne, 2 teaspoons black pepper, 1 teaspoon white pepper, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teapsoon thyme
* 2 bay leaves
* Salt to taste
* 4 cups long-grain white rice, uncooked (Some people like converted rice, others prefer good old Mahatma. I use Uncle Ben’s converted, as the rice doesn’t get sticky or lumpy that way.)
In a sauté or frying pan, brown the chicken, sprinkling with Tony Chachere’s seasoning if you’ve got it; a bit of salt, black pepper and red pepper otherwise. Don’t brown if using leftover cooked bird, but you still might want to season the meat. Tear or cut the meat into bite-size pieces.
Brown the sliced smoked sausage or andouille and pour off fat. In the pot, sauté the onions, garlic, peppers and celery in oil until onions begin to turn transparent.
In the same pot, while you’re sautéing the “trinity”, add the tomato paste and let it pincé, meaning to let it brown a little. What we’re going for here is an additional depth of flavor by browning the tomato paste a little; the sugar in the tomato paste begins to caramelize, deepening the flavor and color. Keep it moving so that it browns but doesn’t burn. Some friends of mine hate this step, so you can skip it if you want, but then it won’t be Chuck’s jambalaya. :^)
Once the vegetables are translucent and the tomato paste achives sort of a red mahogany color, deglaze the pan with the about 2 cups of the stock, scraping the bottom of the pan to mix up any browned bits, and stir until smooth, making sure the sautéed vegetables, paste and stock are combined thoroughly. It should be fairly thick.
Add the Creole seasoning, tomatoes and salt to taste. Cook over low-medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add the meat and/or seafood and cook another 10 minutes; if you’re using seafood, be careful not to overcook it.
Add the rest of the stock, check seasonings, and stir in the rice, combining thoroughly. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid and is cooked through. If you haven’t checked your seasonings before adding the rice, it’s too late! It’s much better for the rice to absorb the seasonings while it’s cooking. Check seasoning anyway, then turn the heat down to low-medium and let the sauce thicken up a bit, with the pot uncovered, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. Stir thoroughly to combine all ingredients. When the jambalaya has thickened up a bit and has reached the “right” consistency (you’ll know), it’s done.
Serve with salad and French bread.
Food photos selected and posted are credited and have Creative Commons-licensed content with some rights reserved for noncommercial purposes, unless otherwise noted.
Previous three months of Fab Food Friday Fotos posts: