A little history: Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday) falls the day before Ash Wednesday marking the start of Lent, a time of sacrifice of food, drink, etc…for many Christians. Fat Tuesday is a day to indulge with spicy foods, parades and parties. Below are some of the more popular traditional Mardi Gras foods. Enjoy!
#1 Jambalaya: a spicy mix of rice, sausage, seafood and veggies cooked in one pot.
#2 Gumbo: an easy one-pot soup of okra, meat, seafood and veggies.
#3 King Cake: a colorful cake of purple, green and yellow with a good luck trinket hidden inside.
#4 Mardi Gras Mojito: a refreshing mixture of muddled lime and mint with a dash of rum.
Jambalaya (with Chicken, Sausage and Shrimp) from southernfood.about.com
1 broiler chicken, cut up, about 3 pounds
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound smoked sausage, thinly sliced
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) stewed tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup long-grain rice
2 teaspoons leaf thyme, crumbled
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (Tabasco)
1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
Wash chicken and pat dry; rub with the paprika. Heat olive oil in a large skillet; add chicken and brown on all sides. Remove chicken from skillet. Add onion, green bell pepper, celery, and garlic. Sauté over low heat until onion is tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in sausage, tomatoes, chicken broth, rice, thyme, salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Add chicken and turn to coat with sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minute, or until chicken is tender. Stir in shrimp and cook about 3 minutes longer, or just until shrimp turns pink.
Jambalaya recipe serves 6.
Gumbo: Shrimp, Chicken, and Andouille Sausage Gumbo from Epicurious.com
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all purpose flour
6 large onions, chopped (about 12 cups)
6 red bell peppers, seeded, chopped (about 7 cups)
8 celery stalks, chopped (about 3 cups)
16 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chopped fresh thyme
6 bay leaves
2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes with juice
4 8-ounce bottles clam juice
4 cups low-salt chicken broth
4 pounds andouille sausage, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
3 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 16-ounce packages sliced frozen okra
4 pounds peeled deveined medium shrimp
Minced fresh Italian parsley
Heat oil in heavy 13-quart pot over medium-high heat until very hot and almost smoking. Add flour and stir constantly until mixture is dark reddish brown, about 5 minutes. Add chopped onions, chopped bell peppers, and chopped celery and cook until onions are soft and brown, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes. Add garlic and cayenne and stir 2 minutes. Add wine, thyme, and bay leaves; bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes with juice, clam juice, broth, sausage, and chicken; simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Add okra and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Do ahead Gumbo base can be made 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Bring base to simmer before continuing.
Add shrimp to pot and cook shrimp until just opaque in center, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Season gumbo to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with minced parsley and serve with steamed rice alongside.
King Cake from homecooking.about.com
Color code: Purple=Justice, Green=Faith and Yellow=Power.
4 ounces (half of a large block) cream cheese
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup raisins, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes, drained, and patted dry on paper towels
1/2 cup pecan halves
2 rolls (total of 12 individual crescent rolls) refrigerated crescent rolls in the can
1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar)
3 to 4 Tablespoon (about) milk or cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Purple, green, and yellow colored sugar crystals or food coloring
Place cream cheese, brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process until combined. Add pecan halves and pulse until pecans are chopped to about 1/4-inch pieces. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a pizza pan or baking sheet with butter-flavored vegetable oil.
Unroll crescent roll dough and separate into triangles. Position triangles next to each other with the points toward the center, overlapping the long sides about 1/4-inch, forming a large round. Where the pieces overlap, press the seams together only in the center of each seam, leaving either ends of the seams unsealed so you can fold them up over the filling.
Spread the filling around in a ring covering the center sealed seam of each triangle.
Place a small plastic baby or dried bean somewhere in the filling. (The person who gets this piece will have good luck for the year.)
Fold the short side of each triangle toward the center just to the edge of the filling to cover. Then pull the point end of the triangles toward the outer rim of the pan to fully enclose the filling, tucking under the points. Lightly press the seams.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.
Whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, milk or cream, and vanilla until smooth. The consistency should be fairly thick, but still thin enough to slowly drip down the sides. Add more milk as necessary. Spoon the icing in a ring over the top of the King Cake and allow it to slowly drip down the sides.
To decorate for Mardi Gras, sprinkle wide stripes of purple, green, and yellow colored sugar crystals.
In a cocktail glass or small clear glass of your choice, muddle (crush) mint leaves with simple syrup. Add crushed or cubed ice and rum. Top with carbonated water almost to the top of the glass. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint leaves or lime wedges. Serving with a purple or yellow napkin makes this a festive addition to your Mardi Gras party.
By Jeanne Slaughter, Marketing Manager for Chesapeake Family magazine who finds Mojitos to go nicely with any and all foods.