Friday, February 8, 2013

Mardi Gras Menu: Gumbo, Salad, Shrimp Etouffee and more~

Welcome to Mardi Gras season! This is my third year writing a post about one of my favorite cities so please join me in the celebration.

My husband Doug and I love New Orleans, the delicious food, lively music, eclectic and friendly people. I don’t need a reason to cook up some great Cajun or Creole foods, but with Mardi Gras season upon us I usually find myself in the kitchen whipping up our favorite New Orleans cuisine and preparing to host a Mardi Gras party, usually the Saturday prior to Fat Tuesday.

Several weeks ago prepared a large pot of Gumbo and froze a portion of it and I just pulled it out of the freezer to thaw for this Saturday’s celebration.

I wrote my first Mardi Gras post in 2011 on the Friday prior to Ash Wednesday 2011 and that year we experienced a long cold winter in the Carolina’s. Last year in 2012 we had an usually warm winter and it was my first Mardi Gras post on BlogHer. As I write my post for 2013 the sun is shining in my part of the Carolina’s however snow is piling up in the Northeast; closing airports, stranding travelers and who knows how long the kids will be on “snow blizzard” break which of course the children love!

Whether you are snowed in or enjoying a sun filled day, today it the perfect time to indulge in the great food’s of the Mardi Gras season! So take a look at my recipe’s or pull out your favorite New Orleans inspired recipes and come along with me to Mardi Gras!~

I was reviewing my past posts and decided to re-post my menu, that’s not cheating is it?

It can be a little confusing trying to figure out when Ash Wednesday falls, so just to clarifyJ according to “Ash Wednesday is always 46 days before Easter and Fat Tuesday is always the day before Ash Wednesday. Easter can fall on any Sunday from March 23 to April 25 with the exact date to coincide with the first Sunday after the full moon following a Spring Equinox! There you have it! Voila!

For those of you preparing a Mardi Gras celebration or a New Orleans themed dinner here is my go to menu that is always a crowd pleaser.

Mardi Gras Menu
Appetizers- Fresh vegetable platter with dip, smoked salmon spread with crackers, chilled shrimp cocktail. What are your favorite app’s?

My friend Janet introduced me to the Mardi Gras salad, which is a festive salad incorporating the colors of Mardi Gras; purple (red) onion, slices of mandarin oranges and green spinach. The Mardi Gras Salad is a colorful salad that is one of my favorites which I prepare all year long, always pleasing to the palate.

Whether you are entertaining a large crowd or preparing an intimate dinner this salad always delivers and is a great pairing with a spicy gumbo.

I really love to prepare Gumbo on the stove, the aroma from the Gumbo always reminds me of a warm sultry night in the French Quarter of New Orleans, eating fresh steamed crawfish, savoring a bowl of Gumbo and listening to New Orleans jazz.

To satisfy the seafood lovers here is my Etouffee recipe for Mardi Gras or make this any time you are in the mood for a little something spicy. Traditionally Cajun Etouffee is tomato based, where as Creole Etouffee is roux based. Enjoy!

Seasoning: I make my own spicy seasoning which includes herbs, spices and dehydrated onion. So if you don’t have any Cajun or Creole seasoning in the house, here is my blend of what I call “New Orleans” style seasoning. If your want to test your tolerance to hot peppers you can add more cayenne or red pepper and heat up your taste buds! And remember, as you cook your Gumbo the hot peppers increase in intensity!

         2 tablespoons dried minced onion
         2 tablespoons dried garlic powder
         1 tablespoon black pepper
         1 tablespoon dried oregano

The perfect bread to sop up your gumbo and etoffee! I usually purchase a fresh Baguette from my local bakery and one of these days I am going to try my hand at baking my own Baguette!

King Cake is a pastry style cake decorated with frosting in the colors of Mardi Gras; purple, green and gold. In New Orleans traditionally a small baby Jesus or trinket is inserted in the cake and whoever finds the trinket in their slice of King Cake hosts the next Mardi Gras party or brings the
King Cake the next year. I have had the good fortune of finding the baby Jesus two years in a row.

Now that you have your menu for the Mardi Gras party, music is a must so don’t forget to have a great selection of Jazz, Zydeco and any of your party favorites ready to liven up the festivities. And do not forget the Mardi Gras beads, I usually purchase beads at my local party store, toss them in a bowl as gifts for my guests to wear. 

Always a good time to be had!!!!

If you are heading down to Nawlins steer clear of Bourbon Street and enjoy the festivities all over the city and in the parishes. “A time for Local Mardi Gras krewes who bring you the "Greatest Free Show on Earth" do not even parade through the Quarter. That is why you have never seen a parade filmed from a balcony in the Quarter -- you just see the crowds after the parades.”  As for me, I will be celebrating Mardi Gras from the comfort of my home, maybe one day I will attend Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Have you ever attended Mardi Gras in New Orleans? What is your favorite New Orleans style recipe?

Cook Something! Cheers!

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