Fat Tuesday’s New Orleans Feast

Welcome to March! It’s Minnesota Day and Peanut Butter Lover’s Day and best of all, Fat Tuesday. This is our big Hurrah before we get serious with the Lenten Season.

Most of us think of Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, as a single event. It’s actually the conclusion of the Carnival Season – a season of merriment that begins on the evening of January 6, Three Kings or Epiphany. It ends on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, the eve of the Lenten Season. Carnival or Carnaval is said to come from the late Latin expression Carne Levare, meaning “remove meat” or Carne Vale, Farewell to meat. That pretty much sums up the 40 Days of Lent.

The Carnival Season came about during the Christian Middle Ages. For reasons unknown, this period between the Epiphany and Ash Wednesday was a time not just of celebration, but a free-for-all when all sorts of forbidden indulgence was somehow acceptable. Perhaps this attitude of anything goes was overlooked since Lent was a time of penance. People seemed to feel if there was penance, then it made sense to have some sins that needed forgiveness. This merriment reached a fever pitch on Fat Tuesday when everyone took to the streets.

Fat Tuesday was especially important for the poor. Since the well-to-do needed to abstain from butters, creams, meats of any kind, as well as alcohol, they threw public parties as a way of consuming all they had acquired.

Today the restrictions surrounding Lent are not as strict as those of the past. Butters, cheeses, creams, eggs and all sorts of animal byproducts are no longer forbidden. Abstinence is no longer required with the exception of Fridays. It’s hard for Catholics today to imagine a time when Sundays were the only exception of the Lenten restrictions. Or that things like milk and eggs were forbidden. The only exception under Cannon Law were for children. Anyone under 14 had no dietary restrictions.

I know, for Fat Tuesday we should be cooking up a huge roast or stuffing some chickens or roasting a pig or something. Yet most years, I like to mark Fat Tuesday with the flavors of New Orleans. And what says New Orleans better than Jambalaya?

Fat Tuesday New Orleans Feast
Cajun Crab Cakes with Creamy Cajun Sauce

Main Course
Holy Trinity Jambalaya Stew
Warm French Bread

Salad Course
Mardi Gras Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Mardi Gras Cupcakes

Cajun Crab Cakes with Creamy Cajun Sauce
Crab Cakes
1 Lemon
1 Celery Rib
1 Shallot
1 Serrano Pepper
1 tablespoon Parsley, chopped
3/4 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons Cajun Seasoning
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
1 Egg, beaten
2 tablespoon Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Louisiana Hot Sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 lb Lump Crab Meat
2 tablespoons Butter for frying

Slice lemon in half, juice and set juice aside. Finely mince celery, reserve 1 tablespoon for the sauce. Set remaining minced celery aside. Peel and finely mince shallot, set aside. Stem Serrano Pepper, then dice and set aside. Snip parsley, set aside.

In a large bowl, combine breadcrumbs crumbs with Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine an egg with mayonnaise, hot sauce, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, celery, shallot, serrano and parsley.

Pour the mayonnaise mixture into the breadcrumb mixture and mix well with a fork. Add the crab meat; mix by hand. If the crab cakes are not holding together, add in a bit more bread crumbs and possibly more mustard or mayonnaise to help bind cakes together.

Form crab mixture into 6 large crab cakes; set aside on a large plate.

Make the Crab Cake Sauce.

Creamy Cajun Sauce
1 Lemon, divided
1/4 cup Pickled Jalapeno Peppers
2 Garlic Cloves
1/2 cup Mayonnaise.
1 tablespoon Whole Grain Spicy Mustard.
1 tablespoon Louisiana Hot Sauce
1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar.
1 tablespoon Celery, diced .
1 teaspoon Cajun Seasoning

Cut lemon in half. Juice half of the lemon, reserve remaining half to use as desired when serving the crab cakes. Finely mince jalapeno peppers, set aside. Peel and finely mince garlic, set aside.

Place mayonnaise, mustard, hot sauce, apple cider vinegar, jalapenos, celery, Cajun seasoning lemon juice and minced garlic in a food processor and process until smooth.

Pour into a medium bowl and cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Parsley as desired
1 Jalapeno Pepper

Snip or chop parsley for garnish, set aside. Stem pepper, slice into rounds and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add butter, let butter melt, swirling the pan to coat. Add the crab cakes and cook for about 3-1/2 minutes per side, or until nicely browned on both sides.

Plate crab cakes. Place a dollop of Cajun sauce on each cake. Sprinkle parsley over cakes, scatter jalapenos around platter and serve with lemon wedges.

Holy Trinity Jambalaya Stew
1 Red Bell Pepper
1/2 Yellow Bell Pepper
1 Yellow Onion
3 Celery Ribs
3 Garlic Cloves
4 Green Onions
1 lb Andouille Sausage
1 lb Large Shrimp
1 tablespoon Canola Oil
4 bone-in Chicken Thighs
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
2 (15 oz) cans Stewed Tomatoes
2 Bay Leaves
2 cups Chicken Stock

Stem, core and dice bell peppers, set aside. Peel and dice onion, set aside. Clean and chop celery, set aside. Peel garlic. Use a micro plane to thinly slice garlic, set aside. Trim roots from green onion and discard. Slice remaining green onion including bulbs, set aside.

Slice sausage into bit-size pieces, set aside. Clean shrimp, hold on ice until ready to use.

Warm 1 tablespoon of oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Place thighs, skin side down in the Dutch oven, fry for about 5 minutes, then turn and brown the other side. Remove to a plate, and reduce heat to medium.

Add the trinity of onions, peppers, and celery; sauté, until softened. Add the bay leaves, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper seasoning. Cook 5 minutes longer.

Add the stewed tomatoes and micro-planed garlic. Return the chicken to the pot. Add the chicken stock. Simmer on low for about 30 minutes or until chicken is done.

Remove chicken to cool. Remove skin and bones from the chicken, shred the meat.

While the stew simmers and the thighs cool, make a pot of rice to serve with the Jambalaya Stew.

Rice For Serving
2 cups Rice
4 cups Water

Place rice in a saucepan with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is tender. Keep rice warm until ready to serve.

When ready, return the shredded chicken to the pot. Add sliced sausage. Add more stock so that level is just below stew level. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a rolling boil and make a roux.

Roux for Finish
3 tablespoons Canola Oil
3 tablespoons Flour

In a small skillet, heat remaining 3 tablespoons of canola oil. Sprinkle with flour. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until roux has reached a medium-brown color, about 10 minutes. Stir roux into the stew.

Five minutes before serving add the shrimp to the top, cover and let cook.

Place mounds of cooked rice in the center of individual bowls. Ladle Jambalaya Stew around the rice mounds. Garnish with green onions, serve with warm bread and enjoy.

Warm French Bread with Melted Garlic Butter
1 loaf French Bread
1/2 cup Butter, divided
1 tablespoon Roasted Garlic Powder
1 tablespoon Italian Breadcrumbs
1/2 tablespoons Parsley Flakes

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.

Melt 1/4 cup butter in a small microwave safe bowl. Add garlic powder, breadcrumbs and parsley flakes. Smash remaining 1/4 of soft butter into the mixture to create a nice paste of butter that spreads easily on the soft bread. Taste, if more flavor is desired, add a little more garlic powder.

Split bread lengthwise, leaving about 1/2 inch still connected to create a butterflied loaf. CAREFULLY open bread on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the cut-side of bread with butter mixture. CAREFULLY close bread, turn the loaf on its side so that open side is up, hinged side is down. Slice bread half way through, leave “hinge” in tact.

CAREFULLY open bread, place in oven open to warm. Warm until lightly toasted. Using the parchment paper for support, slide the warm bread onto a clean tea towel. Wrap the towel around the bread, then and place into a French Bread Basket.

To serve, pass wrapped loaf around the table, inviting diners to “break” off a piece of bread.

Mardi Gras Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
The Vinaigrette
1/2 cup White Vinegar
1 tablespoon Honey
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
2 teaspoons Salt
2 teaspoons Garlic, minced
1 cup Vegetable Oil

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, honey, mustard, pepper, salt, garlic and oil until thoroughly combined. Chill until serving.

The Salad
1 head Romaine Lettuce
1 head Butter Leaf Lettuce
1/2 head Purple Cabbage
2 Yellow Bell Peppers
1/2 Cucumber

Tear the salad greens into pieces, scatter over a serving platter. Finely shred the cabbage, set aside. Core and slice the bell peppers into strips, set aside. Cut the cucumber into thin rounds.

Arrange salad greens on a large platter. Tuck the cucumber in among the greens. Layer cabbage and bell pepper slivers over greens so that all the colors are visible on the platter.

Serve with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette on the side, allowing diners to drizzle as they please.

Mardi Gras Cupcakes

1 box French Vanilla Cake Mix
1 cup Sour Cream
2/3 cup Canola Oil
1/3 cup Sugar
4 large Eggs, room temperature
3 tablespoons Lemon Gelatin
3 tablespoons Lime Gelatin
3 tablespoons Grape Gelatin

Heat oven to 350-degrees. Line 2 cupcake muffin pans with paper inserts. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, sour cream, oil, sugar and eggs; beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Divide batter evenly among 3 bowls.

Stir 1 flavor of gelatin powder into each bowl until blended. Fill muffin cups with a scant 2 tablespoons of each flavored batter.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 to 20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Once cooled, make the frosting.

Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup Solid Butter-Flavored Vegetable Shortening
1/2 cup Butter, softened
1 teaspoon Clear Vanilla Extract
4-1/2 cups Powdered Sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons Light Corn Syrup or as needed

Cream vegetable shortening and butter in a mixing bowl. Add Vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, sift powdered sugar. Add sugar to creamed butter mixture 1/2 cup at a time.

Whip, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary, until all the sugar has been added. Frosting will appear dry and stiff.

Add corn syrup, one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

Finishing Touch
Purple Decorating Sugar
Green Decorating Sugar
Yellow Decorating Sugar

Place frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe frosting over cupcakes.

Sprinkle with decorating sugars as desired. Arrange cupcakes on a platter, serve and enjoy.

Great with a fresh brewed pot of New Orleans Chicory Coffee.

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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