Mardi Gras dinner
I'm trying to plan a Mardi Grad dinner for around 10 people. I know I want to have red beans and rice for the main course, since it's cheap and traditional and feeds a crowd, and some sort of king cake for dessert.
But does anyone have suggestions for side dishes? Or appetizers I can put out when people arrive? I'm OK with things that have lots of prep work, but ideally I'd like to spend some time with my guests, so nothing that requires me to be in the kitchen individually assembling things at the last minute.
Laissez les bons temps roulez!
Historically speaking, Mobile was the birthplace of Mardi Gras in our nation. A great Mobilian dish is West Indies salad--wonderful crab and onion marinated in vinegar served over greens (iceberg lettuce is probably traditional but you can use other greens as well). It's a great starter.
We serve jambalaya; bourbon creole mustard glazed pork loin sliced thin with rolls for quickie sandwiches; several dips, chips, nuts; King Cake; spiked banana pudding; gallons of Hurricanes. But we have 40-60 friends for a 'party', not 'dinner'. Almost everthing is made ahead of time.
The macaroon with chocolate sounds great - add gold sprinkles.
Monday is Red Beans and Rice Day in New Orleans, my dear hometown. On the menu from the fanciest places to the most humble carryouts because everybody eats it.
Traditional sides are French bread and a crispy green salad with an oil and vinegar dressing. Salad is usually simple with onion, green peppers, olives, crouton, not a lot of fussy stuff and the dressing is on the tart side. I always serve with a big bowl of raw chopped mild onion. Keep it simple.
Higher-end places might serve pork chops or sausage on the side. When I serve this for a company meal, I put hunks of sausage in the beans or larger pieces of ham. My kosher or halal version is made with smoked turkey legs. Works just fine.
Apps popular in New Orleans:
charcuterie of all sorts - grilled sausage slices with mustard for dipping, head cheese, paté
antipasti - NOLA has a huge Italian population
good olives - try warming them with a little olive oil
oyster and artichoke dip - use the artichoke leaves for dipping
oyster and spinach dip (tastes like oysters rockefeller if you add fennel seed)
shrimp remoulade - NOLA version of this sauce is Creole mustard based, not with mayo
mini crawfish pies
crawfish, crabmeat or shrimp cheesecake
turtle soup - "mock" turtle soup is made with veal - in demi-tasse cups
daube glacée - beef in aspic served with French bread - cheap, a little bit of work
Beloved New Orleans desserts are:
Cannollis from Brocatto's - easy to make with purchase shells
Spumoni ice cream - also from Brocatto's - Edy's make it too
Doberge cake from Gambino's Bakery - a multi-layered (8?) cake with a pudding-like filling and a dark chocolate glaze. Available by mail order. I've made it myself. Also lemon version.
You have to have King Cake. - the best is a good coffee cake, the decoration sets it apart
Pecan Pralines - make them small, it's easier.
Pecan pie - never walnuts, no maple syrup. Louisiana grows sugar cane and pecans.
Anything with Coconut in honor of King Zulu - macaroon will be great, put a big chocolate Z on each one.
Bread pudding with bourbon sauce. - Commander's Palace recipe is great. Others are simpler.
You can make drinks pretty close to Pat O'Brien's Hurricanes with Hawaiian Punch, Limeade and Rum. Make a ceremonial pitcher full.
Learn how to make Sazeracs, which most NOLA natives much prefer to Hurricane (storms and drinks.) One of the world's GREAT cocktails!
Mardi Gras colors are Purple, Green and Gold. Order a few wonderfully tacky things from Oriental Trading and enjoy. Happy Mardi Gras!
I've seen hors d'ouevres muffalettas made on tiny buns -- it was adorable and fun.
Lots of great ideas are posted here. I've also seen a tricolor salad made with the traditional Mardi Gras colors - Purple, Green and Gold -- made from different types of cabbage... I think other salads could also be made with those colors, especially using beets and greens... if you want something on the lighter side.
Below are some ideas, check out the list and if you want the recipes they're at this link.
Cajun Smashed Potatoes
Easy Cranberry Salad
Easy Crawfish and Corn Bisque
Mardi Gras Cheese (& Shrimp) Dip
Best Dessert Ever
Holiday Pecan Pralines
Ma's Pecan Pie
Mardi Gras King Cake
Creole Coffee Ice Cream Punch
Italian Marinated Vegetables
Spicy Dirty Rice
Another suggestion is www.orientaltrading.com for Madri Gras decorations and favors.