Thursday, January 29, 2009

Almost Time for Mardi Gras!

Although Mardi Gras Day ( Feb. 24) is still a few weeks away, the Carnival season actually began, in Louisiana, on January 6, or "The Twelfth Night" meaning the twelfth night after Christmas. They say that Mardi Gras or "Fat Tuesday", originated in Medieval Europe, and was brought to New Orleans by French explorers in the 1700's. New Orleans has the biggest celebration in Louisiana, but Acadiana more than holds it own, when it comes to big parties. 

Lafayette, which hosts the second largest Mardi Gras celebration, holds many lavish balls and parades. Many people belong to a Mardi Gras Krewe which is a social club that centers around Mardi Gras,but has parties for all occasions, year round. The Mardi Gras season is a magical, fun-filled time when you get to wear outrageous costumes, catch lots of shiny beads at parades, go to fancy balls and listen to really great music. Downtown becomes alive with revelers and each club has a festive party going on.

Cajun Field becomes home to the "Mardi Gras de Lafayette", where there is a huge amusement park and a stage with the best Cajun and Zydeco bands playing. Also around Acadiana, you will find the "Country Mardi Gras" where families and neighbors ride together on horseback, to gather the ingredients for a giant communal gumbo. Once the ingredients are obtained, there is a "fais do do", (street dance), while the feast is prepared. It all adds up to a whole lot of FUN, which of course, is what the Cajuns are known to love.. Lassier Les Bon Ton Rouler! Hope to see you there! Mais Oui?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mardi Gras King Cake

Here is a fabulous recipe for the king of all cakes, in Louisiana, the Mardi Gras King Cake. This delectable cake originated in Europe and came with French settlers to New Orleans in the 1870's. They have been a part of the Mardi Gras tradition, since then, and King Cake parties are popular throughout Louisiana. The King Cake is made with a rich dough and covered with icing and sprinkles in the Mardi Gras colors, purple, green and gold. They can be filled with many different fillings, such as lemon, strawberry, chocolate, or cream cheese. It takes a little time, but it is well worth the effort. The person who finds the plastic baby in his or her piece is said to blessed with good luck throughout the year. Enjoy!

Cream Cheese Filled King Cake

 1 16 oz. container sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp. salt
2 envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tbs. sugar
2 beaten eggs
6 cups bread flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. each of cinnamon and nutmeg
2  (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1 large egg
1 tsp, vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
Purple, green, and gold sugar sprinkles
Vanilla frosting
1 small plastic baby doll

Cook first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan, on low heat, stiring often, until butter melts. Set aside. Stir together yeast, warm water, and sugar in a small bowl.

Beat sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, eggs, and 2 cups of the flour, and the cinnamon and nutmeg,with an electric mixer, until smooth. On low speed, continue to add the remaining flour until a soft dough forms. 

Place dough on a floured surface and knead until smooth. Place in a well greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour. Punch down dough and divide in half. Roll each section into two rectangles.( 22x12 inches, each)

Beat the sugar, cream cheese, egg, vanilla and almond extracts with an electric mixer at medium speed, until smooth. leaving 1 inch border, spread the cream cheese mixture evenly on each rectangle.

Starting with 1 long side, roll up each rectangle. On a lightly greased baking sheet, place one of the dough rolls, seam side down. Bring ends of roll together to seal, to form an oval. Repeat with second dough roll. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes minutes or until golden. Let cakes cool for about for about 10 minutes. Insert the plastic baby doll into the cake. Spoon icing onto cake and spread on top, only. Sprinkle evenly, alternating with colored sugar sprinkles. Cool before serving.

Makes 2 cakes. (15 servings each)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cajun Super Bowl Party !

With just one week to go until the big game, I have decided on a Super Bowl buffet for the group of friends that I will be entertaining next Sunday. We will be watching Super Bowl XLIII, when The Pittsburg Steelers will take on the Arizona Cardinals in the most exciting football game of the year. I've decided to go all out, for this year's bash, with an emphasis on what else, but Cajun and Creole recipes. Cest bon, cher!

 My Super Bowl Menu will include:

Spicy Cajun Buffalo Wings ~  Spicy Creole Jambalaya ~  Cajun Party Meatballs ~

Crawfish Enchiladas ~ 7 Layer Salad,  Mardi Gras King Cake, ~  and who knows what else! 

Click on title to see recipes.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Crawfish Are Back + Crawfish Etouffee !

Well, they're finally here! You won't find them just anywhere, yet, but here are a few places around Acadiana that are serving boiled crawfish. In Lafayette, you'll find them at Acadiana Crawfish Express on Roselawn Blvd., or your local boiling pot. In Abbeville, you can eat boiled crawfish at Richard's Seafood patio, 1516 S. Henry St., better known to locals as the Pumping Plant Rd. I could tell some stories about my adventures along the Pumping Plant Rd., while in high school, but that's another post.

Tis' the beginning of the season for Crawfish, those delectable, succulent morsels of tail meat, that are at the heart of Cajun cuisine. They can be prepared many different ways, but my favorite is Crawfish Etoufee. Crawfish tails smothered with onions, peppers, and celery, also called "the trinity", in a heavenly stew and served over rice. The only thing better is crawfish, shrimp, and crab etouffee'. So if you can't get crawfish, shrimp or crab etouffee is divine, too. Ca cest' bon', cher!

 Crawfish Etouffee' 

 1 cup each of chopped onions and bell peppers
1/2 cup of chopped celery
2 tsp.'s minced garlic
1 small can of Rotel brand tomatoes and green chilies, drained
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup of chopped green onions (divided)
1 tbs. Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
1 tsp. of basil and a pinch of thyme
Salt to taste
1 1/2 cups of water or seafood stock

First, you make a roux.
4 tbs. butter
4 tbs. flour

Melt the butter in a large heavy pot, on medium heat. Add the flour and stir constantly, until a light to medium brown color is reached. (about 10 to 15 minutes)

Add the chopped onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, and tomatoes, and cook on low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Slowly add the water or seafood stock,mix well, and bring to a boil. Add the crawfish, parsley, seasonings, and half of the green onions, and mix well.

Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 40 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over cooked rice and top with the remaining chopped onions.

A tossed green salad and french bread compliment the spice nicely. Enjoy!

No time to make a roux? Click on product to order this excellent Etoufee Mix.

LOUISIANA Cajun Etouffee Mix 2.65 oz