Mardi Gras and more!

If you’re anything like me the extent of your Mardi Gras knowledge doesn’t go past beads, New Orleans, and something about a baby in a cake. So it’s time we figure out what Mardi Gras is all about, especially since it is Fat Tuesday! Let’s find out all the history, parties, and food related to this fun holiday!

Mardi Gras dates back thousands of years as a prelude to lent. So the day before Ash Wednesday, also known as Fat Tuesday, people gathered together to celebrate one last time before the Catholic lent began. While Mardi Gras has been celebrated in different countries for years, it is said that the first Mardi Gras came to New Orleans in 1699, so New Orleans has been Mardi Gras central for hundreds of years! Which is also why Louisiana is the only state that Mardi Gras is considered a state holiday! But just because Louisiana is the only state it is a “legal” holiday, doesn’t stop other states from joining in on the fun!

So now that Mardi Gras is celebrated in several states and countries, traditions of food have spread through out. Here are a few fun recipes to try today!

King Cake

Okay so now why is there a baby in the cake? Originally, the baby or bean was meant to symbolize Jesus but later has come to represent luck and prosperity for whoever finds the baby.

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Recipe from Epicurious.com

Serves 10-12

INGREDIENTS

  • For the cake:
    • 1 cup lukewarm milk, about 110°F
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 tablespoons dry yeast
    • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup melted butter
    • 5 egg yolks, beaten
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon zest
    • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
    • Several gratings of fresh nutmeg
  • For the icing:
    • 2 cups powdered sugar
    • 1/4 cup condensed milk
    • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
    • Purple, green, and gold decorative sugars
    • 1 fève (fava bean) or plastic baby to hide in the cake after baking

 

PREPARATION

  1. For the cake, pour the warm milk into a large bowl. Whisk in the granulated sugar, yeast, and a heaping tablespoon of the flour, mixing until both the sugar and the yeast have dissolved.
  2. Once bubbles have developed on the surface of the milk and it begins to foam, whisk in the butter, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add the remaining flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg and fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a large rubber spatula.
  3. After the dough comes together, pulling away from the sides of the bowl, shape it into a large ball. Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is smooth and elastic, about 15 minutes.
  4. Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a draft-free place to let it proof, or rise, for 1 1/2 hours or until the dough has doubled in volume.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough between your palms into a long strip, making 3 ropes of equal length. Braid the 3 ropes around one another and then form the braided loaf into a circle, pinching ends together to seal. Gently lay the braided dough on a nonstick cookie sheet and let it rise until it doubles in size, about 30 minutes.
  6. Once it’s doubled in size, place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake until the braid is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven, place on a wire rack, and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
  7. For the icing, while the cake is cooling, whisk together the powdered sugar, condensed milk, and lemon juice in a bowl until the icing is smooth and very spreadable. If the icing is too thick, add a bit more condensed milk; if it’s a touch too loose, add a little more powdered sugar.
  8. Once the cake has cooled, spread the icing over the top of the cake and sprinkle with purple, green, and gold decorative sugars while the icing is still wet. Tuck the fève or plastic baby into the underside of the cake and, using a spatula, slide the cake onto a platter.

 

Shrimp and Grits

For grits:ShrimpAndGrits

  • 1 cup grits
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ container Gordo’s Cheese Dip (Any Flavor)

For shrimp:

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • ½ red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound medium to large shrimp, peeled, rinsed, and patted dry

Prepare grits according to the package instructions. Stir in salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Allow grits to thicken. Add butter and allow to melt. Stir in cheese dip until smooth. Cover and keep warm until ready to add shrimp. For the shrimp, mix together paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin, garlic, red pepper, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Toss shrimp in spice mixture. Add olive oil to a medium skillet over medium heat. Add shrimp to the skillet. Cook shrimp for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until pink. Spoon shrimp and olive oil mixture over grits, top with chopped bacon. Enjoy.

Chicken and Okra Gumbo 

Recipe from Delish.com
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 large white onion
  • 3 stalk celery
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 3 clove garlic
  • 6 c. chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 6 oz. andouille links
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp. prepared jerk paste or 1 tablespoon ground jerk seasoning
  • 1 tbsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp. smoked hot paprika
  • ¾ lb. fresh or thawed frozen okra
  • 1 rotisserie chicken
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Tabasco
  • Steamed rice
  • 2 scallions

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, whisk the flour with 1/2 cup of oil until smooth. Cook the roux over moderately low heat, whisking often, until deep brown, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Add the onion, celery, bell peppers, and garlic and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until the onion is translucent, about 20 minutes.
  2. Gradually add the stock to the casserole, whisking until smooth. Add the andouille, bay leaves, jerk paste, thyme, and paprika and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the okra to the casserole and simmer until tender, 15 minutes. Stir in the chicken meat and season the gumbo with salt, pepper, and Tabasco. Discard the bay leaves, ladle the gumbo over rice, garnish with the scallions, and serve with Tabasco.

Beignets

Recipe from Tebeignets-2-683x1024natthetable.com

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 teaspoonss yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 cup cream or half ‘n’ half
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 7 cups unbleached AP flour
  • 1 quart frying oil (Cotton seed is suggested for best flavor)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)

Instructions:

  • In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add sugar, salt, eggs, cream, and blend well. Mix in 4 cups of the flour and beat until smooth. Add the softened butter, and then the remaining 3 cups of flour. Cover and let rise for 1-2 hours or chill for up to 24 hours. Pour out the dough and fold it over itself a few times to make a relatively rectangular shape. Roll out the dough into a 1/4 in. thick rectangle. Cut it into 2×2 in. squares. Heat your oil for frying in a deep and wide, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat to 360 degree F.Slide dough squares slowly into the oil to avoid splattering and fry until they puff up and are golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Carefully remove onto a rack with paper towels underneath and allow to cool until you can handle them. Mix together the powdered sugar and cinnamon if using. Arrange the beignets on a platter or cookie sheet, and dust them with the powdered sugar mixture using a fine mesh strainer. Eat warm.