Mardi Gras / Fat Tuesday, February 12th

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By Denise Murray

Health and recipe blogger

Pre-Lenten balls and parties were enjoyed by the French of New Orleans as early as the 1700s. Banned by the Spanish in the late 1700s, the celebrations weren't reinstated until 1823; 20 years after the United States assumed ownership. By 1827, the masked balls became legal and the first documented parade took place in the streets.

Mardi Gras, which means "Fat Tuesday," always takes place on the day before Ash Wednesday. Carnival season runs from January 6 -- Twelfth Night -- to Mardi Gras Day.

Whether you're planning a Mardi Gras celebration or just want to sample some of the nation's most famous food traditions, you're likely to find something you'll make again and again.

Also known as Twelfth Night Cake, the brioche-style King Cake is prepared in New Orleans bakeries for the period between the Twelfth Night (January 6) and Ash Wednesday.

The tradition is thought to have begun with French settlers, continuing a custom dating back to 12th century France, when a similar cake was used to celebrate the coming of the three wise men bearing gifts twelve days after Christmas, calling it the feast of Epiphany, Twelfth Night, or King's Day.

Though the cakes are baked in many shapes now, they were originally round in shape to portray the circular route taken by the Kings to confuse King Herod who was trying to follow the wise men so he could kill the Christ child.

The cakes usually contain a bean, pea, or a figurine symbolizing the baby Jesus. In 1871 the tradition of choosing the queen of the Mardi Gras was determined by who drew the prize in the cake. It is definitely considered good luck to the person who gets the figure, and that person usually holds the next King Cake party.

The Rex Krewe, a Mardi Gras parade organization, chose the festival's symbolic colors, and since 1872 the colors have been used to tint the cake's icing. The colors of the King Cake are purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.

KING CAKE

(a quick version) ~ not the healthiest of recipes, ~ well it is fat Tuesday~

  • 3 Pkgs. of  Crescent Rolls
  • 1 8 oz. pkg. of cream cheese ( I suggest Neufchatel, ~ 1/3 less fat)
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 can of pie filling of your choice
  • Yellow, purple  and Green Sprinkles

Place crescent rolls on a round sheet pan, or pizza stone in a circle with points pointed to the center.  Sprinkle with flour sugar shaker (flour) and pinch dough seams together or press with a rolling pin.  Leave points in the center separated.  Mix together cream cheese, vanilla, and powdered sugar.  Spread cream cheese mixture over the  dough but not in the points.  Spread pie filling over cream cheese mixture.  Fold outside of dough up and over the pie filling.  Fold points in the center over and tuck under outer edge .

Bake at 375 for about 20 to 25 minutes until dark golden brown.

Beignets

"A traditional New Orleans-style recipe for their famous beignets! Grab a cafe au lait and you're set!"

Prep Time 30 Min. Cook Time 30 Min. Ready In 3 Hrs.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 7 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 quart vegetable oil for frying
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add sugar, salt, eggs, evaporated milk, and blend well. Mix in 4 cups of the flour and beat until smooth. Add the shortening, and then the remaining 3 cups of flour. Cover and chill for up to 24 hours.***(For a time saver and short cut you can use a store bought Pizza Crust and roll mix, or even Frozen Pizza Crust /Yeast Roll dough for this. Follow the instructions for making dinner rolls)
  2. Roll out dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 2 1/2 inch squares. Fry in 360 degree F (180 degrees C) hot oil. If beignets do not pop up, oil is not hot enough. Drain onto paper towels.
  3. Shake confectioners' sugar on hot beignets. Serve warm. 

Louisiana Red Beans and Rice

Prep Time 25 Min. Cook Time 3 Hrs. 5 Min        

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dry kidney beans (Canned beans eliminate the need to soak overnight)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 pound Andouille sausage, sliced
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups long grain white rice

Directions

  1. Rinse beans, and then soak in a large pot of water overnight.***
  2. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onion, bell pepper, garlic, and celery in olive oil for 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Rinse beans, and transfer to a large pot with 6 cups water. Stir cooked vegetables into beans. Season with bay leaves, cayenne pepper, thyme, sage, parsley, and Cajun seasoning. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 2 1/2 hours.
  4. Stir sausage into beans, and continue to simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the rice. In a saucepan, bring water and rice to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve beans over steamed white rice.

Hurricane -single beverage portion 4 oz. Dark Rum 2 oz. Lemon Juice 2 oz. Red Passion Fruit Mix  Serve in a Hurricane Glass filled with Crushed Ice, garnish with an orange slice and maraschino cherry. 

Instead of making these from scratch, find Pat O'Brien's Hurricane Powdered Mix , mix it with water per the instructions, then set out your Hurricane mixer along with dark rum and ice, with orange slices and cherries available for garnish.

Best of Cooking!       

Denise

Reader Comments

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Jean Lotus from Forest Park Review  

Posted: February 12th, 2013 2:43 PM

Yum Denise, I never thought of throwing sausage into red beans and rice. It looks and sounds fantastic.

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