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Dec 18, 2009 08:10 AM

New Orleans Christmas... thoughts, menu ideas, recipes?

My sister and I have decided to base our Christmas menus on food/dishes typically associated with New Orleans (we do a different theme every year). Any ideas, recipes you have would be appreciated. Here is what we have planned so far:

Christams Eve (Game Night)-
Mufaletta sandwiches
Zapp's potato chips
Roasted Shrimp w/ remoulade

Christmas Morning-
Sliced Meats
Chicory Coffee

Christmas Dinner-
Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo (first time making)
Crispy Okra
White Rice
??? I think we need something else to round the dinner out
Banana's Foster Cheesecake


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  1. I love Cajun food...and your menu sounds nice..just a couple suggestions...why not make the crispy okra (my favorite veggie, by the way) with the muffaletta; change your white rice for Christmas dinner to red beans & rice and add a salad of some sort, perhaps something like a spinach/orange/roasted beet etc. with a citrus vinaigrette for a little acid and brighten the heavy meal? JMO.....UncleBob what say you?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cherylptw

      I was just assuming that her white rice on the list was for the gumbo, not to be eaten on the side. Trading it out with dirty rice wouldn't work, but using leftover rice to make dirty rice the next day for lunch would be awesome and easy!

    2. Native in the house: I'm assuming you don't want a traditional New Orleans Christmas dinner, right? But if you were interested in that, I'd suggest oyster "dressing" (known as stuffing in other parts), which is almost always on local holiday tables. Or oyster patties, a typical hors d'ouevre ( we always have these on Christmas Eve). Spinach Madeleine is a typical side dish. If you're interested in any of these, I'll type out the recipe(s).

      4 Replies
      1. re: nomadchowwoman

        What is a traditional New Orleans Christmas Dinner?

        Actually, no one in our family eats oysters. So anything with oysters would not go over well. I would be interested in the recipe for Spinach Madeleine- sounds yummy!

        Do have a gumbo recipe you wouldn't mind sharing?


        1. re: danagrace

          Going out to lunch in a bit, but I will answer fully, w/recipes, later this afternoon.

          1. re: danagrace

            Mind you, I am not saying you should have a *traditional Christmas* New Orleans dinner, was just curious about what kinds of suggestions you were looking for. I love the idea of your themed celebrations and wish I had a family member or two who were game for something different. It's been very difficult, with my family, over the years, to tweak the holiday dinners to make them my own.

            Like people everywhere, New Orleanians put on a special spread for Christmas, and as everywhere the traditions differ from home to home, family to family. But there are some things that are pretty typical--although people have very particular traditions about what is served on Christmas Eve vs. Christmas Day.

            It would not be typical (doesn't mean it never happens, of course) to have red beans and rice or okra or fried seafood on the holiday table. Now the serving of gumbo is another story. When I was growing up, we always had seafood gumbo on Christmas Eve, and I know lots of people who still do. I don't make it in my house simply because we always have so much other food on Xmas eve--and then there's the next day's spread coming. (In the African-American community, however, gumbo is often the centerpiece of the Christmas day groaning board. My neighbor makes about 20 gallons (!) to take to a large family gathering--and we are the lucky recipients of a quart of it every year.) We also usually had a dish of lasagna on Christmas Eve, and the aforementioned oyster patties as well as a hot crab dip.

            --Typical to have a big roast of some sort--pork or beef rib roast or a glazed ham and/or a turkey. (In my childhood home, we always had turkey and roast pork loin.) I now serve beef tenderloin (and roast pork or my sister would revolt).
            --Oyster dressing is very common. We always have it (a version made with half cornbread and half french bread) and Mom's "Yankee Bread Dressing." When I was growing up, we also had rice dressing or "dirty rice" contributed by my aunt.
            --Potatoes: mashed w/gravy, but almost everyone serves a sweet potato dish. Most people have something cloyingly sweet like candied yams. Some do a sweet potato souffle. I usually just mash them w/butter as I'm not a fan of sweetening already sweet potatoes.
            --Spinach Madeleine (recipe follows)
            --Other typical sides: green beans amandine, cauliflower gratin, Le Seur petit pois, asparagus (we always have the peas w/mushrooms, cauliflower gratin, and creamed onions)
            --Cranberry relish (and my sister always makes a cranberry, nut, and cream cheese "salad"--it's really a dessert)
            --Pies: Sweet potato is as common, if not moreso, than pumpkin; pecan; custard. (In our house it's always buttermilk custard pie, pecan pie, chocolate cream pie (a must for my brother), and my mom's mince pies.
            We, like Uncle Bob, often make shrimp remoulade as a X-mas day appetizer, which we munch on along w/leftover hors douevres from the night before while sipping mimosas and preparing the feast.
            A lot more than you wanted to know, I'm sure!

            Here's a gumbo recipe: it is one I adapted from one of Paul Prudhomme's many gumbo recipes. I've made minor changes along the way. It's delicious, and I use this as a base whether I'm making seafood gumbo or poultry gumbo. You may want to adjust the seasoning. I'm always careful with the salt because the seafood, sausage, or whatever poultry I might be using can be salty. Since you all don't eat oysters, I'd use two pounds of shrimp instead of one. If you can't get fresh crabmeat or don't want it, just omit it. I've tried substituting canned when I've been places where I couldn't get fresh, and it disintegrated into shreds, adding nothing to the finished product.
            Also, a note on the roux: I like using less oil. Many roux recipes call for equal parts flour and oil; some for two parts flour to one part oil. I've found my proportions to work just right for what I want. But you can adjust to more conventional proportions.
            As for stock: you can make a simple stock from the shrimp shells; you can use fish stock. I have found that, in a pinch, mixing chicken stock w/bottled clam juice (about half/half) makes a great stock for seafood gumbo.


            Holy trinity:
            2 c chopped onions
            1 ¼ c chopped green bell pepper
            1 c chopped celery

            Seasoning Mix:
            2 whole bay leaves
            1 tsp salt
            1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
            1/2 tsp black pepper
            ¾ tsp dried thyme leaves
            1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves

            1/2 cup vegetable oil
            3/4 cup all-purpose flour

            2 T minced garlic
            8 c seafood stock
            ½ lb. andouille (or other good pure smoked pork sausage), sliced
            1 lb. peeled and deveined medium shrimp
            1 ½ dozen medium to large oysters in their liquor)
            1 lb. fresh crabmeat

            3-4 c hot cooked rice (brown or white)

            Have all ingredients ready before you start.

            Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over high heat until it just begins to smoke, about 5 minutes. Gradually add the flour, whisking constantly with a long-handled metal whisk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until roux is dark reddish-brown, almost chocolate-colored, 3-5 minutes, being careful not to let it scorch. (It is very important to whisk constantly when making roux over high heat. You can make it over a bit lower heat, but it will take longer.) As soon as the roux is the right color, add half the “holy trinity” vegetables and stir well, switching from whisk to a spoon. Continue stirring and cooking about 1 minute. Then add the remaining vegetables and cook about 2 minutes longer. Stir in the seasoning mix and continue cooking about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn off the heat and add the garlic; stir well. Remove from heat.

            Meanwhile, bring stock to a boil in a lg. saucepan or Dutch oven. Add roux mixture by spoonfuls to the boiling stock, stirring until dissolved between each addition. Bring mixture to a boil. Add andouille and return to a boil; continue boiling about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes more. (You can make ahead to this point; just bring back to a boil before adding the seafood.) Add seafood. Return to a boil over high heat and cook until shrimp is just barely cooked , as it will continue to cook after you remove from the heat. Serve immediately.

            Serves 8 as a main course.

          2. re: nomadchowwoman

            Ok, here's the Spinach Madeleine, really just a take on creamed spinach. I'm copying out John Besh's recipe. I tried it recently, and it's much better than the recipe I'd previously used. One thing I do add that he doesn't is a bread crumb topping.


            4 T. butter
            2 shallots, minced
            1 clove garlic, minced
            2 T. flour
            2 pounds fresh spinach, well washed (or 2 pkgs. Frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out)
            1 cup heavy cream
            2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
            ¾ tsp celery salt
            ½ tsp cayenne pepper
            ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
            2 c. creole cream cheese or Mascarpone

            1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Melt the butter in a lg. nonreactive, heavy-bottomed pot over moderate heat.
            Add the shallots and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 2-3 minutes. Add the spinach to the pot and cook, stirring often, until the spinach is wilted, 3-5 minutes. Add the cream, black pepper, celery salt, cayenne, and Worcestershire and cook for 5 more minutes.

            2. Add the Creole cream cheese or mascarpone, stirring it into the spinach as it melts. Season with salt. Spoon the spinach into an ovenproof dish and bake for 20 minutes.

          3. You may find an idea or two here to go along with your ideas......

            Christmas Eve ~~~~(Game Night)
            Cocktails... Bourbon, Ramos Gin Fizz, Sazerac, Abita Beer.
            Raw Oysters.......
            Zapps Chips

            Christmas Morning ~~~~
            Bloody Mary, Mimosas, Milk Punch
            Café Au Lait.......

            Christmas Dinner ~~~~
            Shrimp Remoulade......
            Duck/Chicken & Sausage Gumbo....
            Grilled Steaks/Cream Horseradish Sauce/Meuniere Sauce/etc
            Orange Glazed Yams (Sweet Potatoes)
            Steamed Broccoli/Asparagus/etc.
            BF Cheese Cake or Bread Pudding/Bourbon Sauce/etc

            Have Fun & Enjoy!!!!!!!!!

            1. Beignets aren't a breakfast treat!.
              Grillades and cheese grits, if you want to be a bit more real.
              The Grillade recipe below is so good that you'll really learn something about the spices and way that the coastal folks cook: less expensive ingredients made better through lovin' cooking.


              Bananas Foster is also so good over ice cream; it's not the same if the ingredients are added to a cheese cake. If you can flambe the bannanas you'll be even better.

              Instead of roasted shrimp, could you stand the calories of the dish called BBQ shrimp (which are BBQ at all, but shrimp baked in butter that's well and strongly seasoned, and then served with bread for sopping the butter up.

              1. I'm doing seafood gumbo for Christmas Eve and serving with dirty rice and cornbread.