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Mar 2, 2011 04:53 AM

Mardis Gras 2011 -- What's Up?

Well, Mardis Gras is less than a week away. Have you planned anything to celebrate? What's your menu? Recipes?

I found this article with some food history about New Orleans, along with recipes.
Thought you'd enjoy it.

Laissez les bons temps rouler.

And to get you in the mood.... the incomparable BB King!
or Dr. John
...and when the good times have rolled.... Allen Toussaint!

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  1. We celebrate the tying of shoes here so we certainly celebrate Mardi Gras. This year I think I'll revisit Bon Appetit Y'All and choose 3 recipes that may be appropriate. OTOH, that Trout with Pecans from the web site you referenced looks good as does Mr. B's Gumbo Ya-Ya. What will you do, Alkapal?

    22 Replies
    1. re: Gio

      hey miss gio! mr. alka loves shrimp étouffée, so i think that'll be our main deal. gumbo is also easy and delicious. the trout with pecans is tempting, though! what would you suggest for side dishes?

      what about booze? any new orleans' specialties?

      1. re: alkapal

        How 'bout a Bayou Salad...I recently saw a recipe: lettuces, diced tomato, diced Swiss chz., diced smoked ham and green olives with a Worcestershire sauce vinaigrette. I'd add thinly sliced red onions. Black Eyed Peas Casserole is another possibility, green beans, and I guess there has to be a rice dish... Corn bread and/or buttermilk biscuits should be in there too. We don't have a favorite NO drink. Suggestions??.

        1. re: Gio

          hmm, maybe i'll ask the "spirits"! ;-).

          and they say, "the sazerac"!

          (ps. fellow hound "striper guy" is a wealth of info, and gives his rundown on the different kinds of "bitters," which are used in the sazerac : ).

          1. re: alkapal

            I just asked the google goddess and she reminded me of The Hurricane. There's a Hurricane or two in my past. Lethal and too blue to be a regular drink. Makes me think of windshield cleaning fluid.

            1. re: Gio

              a hurricane is blue? oh, maybe i'm thinking of a different drink. maybe a planter's punch -- yes, i think that's what i was thinking of.

              1. re: Gio

                Hurricanes are red, not blue.

                1. re: JMF

                  They come up just as red as they go down!

              2. re: alkapal

                Just remember that the sazerac is a medicine..when the doctor says "take two" you better leave it at that...

                You can make a sazerac without Angostura but you cannot make one without Peychauds. Some schools use both but never with only Angostura

                1. re: hazelhurst

                  It's the Vieux Carre that uses both Peychauds and Angostura bitters. The Sazerac always and only uses Peychauds. A Sazerac has to one of the simplest cocktails, but sublime in the alchemical matching of ingredients.
                  2 oz. rye whiskey
                  2 dashes Peychauds bitters
                  Rinse glass with Herbsaint or absinthe and pour out. Add 1/2 oz simple syrup or 1 sugar cube and a splash of water, rye, and bitters, stir on ice. Strain into a chilled glass and garnish with a lemon twist. Serve up, never shake.

                  1. re: JMF

                    As purist I agree 100%...but Commander's used to use both and was very popular. The Vieux Carre always seemed to be various variations on a variant. But Peychaud is essntial I agree I have known people who liked a bead around the top but again I agree it should not be cloudy. I always said..even when almost no one drank them anymore, thirty-five yeas ago, that it was the last supreme example of the 19th Century cocktail...appeals to sense of sight, smell, and taste. I suppose you could get hearing in there if youadore the sound of clinking ice--whcih I do. It says "cool" to me.

                    I think Peychaud's makes a better Pink Gin than Angostura but the latter is the more traditional. Angostura did provide the money for the Wizard of Oz actor, Frank MOrgan, to live a life of ease. He was originally a Wupperman, the family that drove Angostura to prominence after teh good Surgeon General came up with the stuff.

                    1. re: hazelhurst

                      The vieux carre has a definite creation date and recipe that can be pinpointed. By Walter Bergeron in 1938 at the bar at the Monteleone Hotel.

                      1. re: JMF

                        Yup, that's the old story...I am always leery of those, though. How man times has Brennan's claimed to have invented oysters rock? But what I was getting at was that I have seen "Vieux Carre" cocktails made with rum, of all things, but I agree with Monteleone's version as the classic. It was not ordered much when I was young..unless you were at the hotel. And the other point was that it is different from a sazerac. Again, I prefer a sazerac with just Peychaud but you;d be surprised how many places use both...and for years it was almost always made with bourbon..rye did not reclaim its rightful place until several years ago (except at the roosevelt where they used Wild Turkey Ryr, 101 of course..almost eveyone else who had rye--and they were few-had Old Overholt.)

                        1. re: hazelhurst

                          I love this. You two arguing the fine points of libations - I'm homesick, now. :-[)

                          1. re: sancan

                            Sorry..intended no distress. It funny, I was reading about cocktails long before I was of legal age, just because the stories in the books were so good and also becuase some of the stuff seemed so complicated that I wondered who'd go to that much trouble? When it was legal to drink the stuff, i was the only guy in my generation making things like Gin Fizzes and raffles' Slings. I find the cocktail "renaissance" amusing as well as interesting.

                            Now if we could just get people to focus on the ice quality...

                            1. re: hazelhurst

                              In the major cocktail cities ice quality has become very important in the fine cocktail bars. NYC, Boston, Chicago, NoLa, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle to name a few. Cold Draft ice machines, or even using large, clear, hand carved block ice; are common place in the upper cocktail circles.

                              1. re: JMF

                                I had a sense of this from various reading but have not first hand knowledge. I am delighted to hear you say it. My friends teased me that, when my father died over 30 years ago, that I was the last "ice snob" on earth. I was desolated when Galatoire's gave up the big blocks and went to goddamn ice machine crud.

                                I wasn;t the last, though..Mr Ernest Hansen, whose seat in the Pantheon is asssured by virtue of his Sno-Bliz, would hand select the blocks of ice he'd use..or he used to...

                                It really is important...good, hard, clear ice makes superior cocktails that don't dilute as quickly. Perhaps we can get New Orleans, with its historic sense of libations, to take note again (I heard, but never sampled, about someplace near the Texaco bldg that had block ice.)

                                As final note: there is a fun book called "The Frozen Water trade" about the development of the ice business in the early 19th century and the eventual fortune-making trade of shipping ice from New England to India. There was much debate about whose ice was best....

                                1. re: hazelhurst

                                  A few places in NYC have actual 'ice programs' and get huge blocks of crystal clear ice, as well as custom sizes delivered, and then hand break them down with picks and knives. I even know one place that bought one of the machines that makes the two hundred pounds pure clear blocks. It takes three days per block, freezing with running water to wash away impurities and air bubbles.

                                  I have photos from Dutch Kills bar (the first place in NYC to set up a modern ice program) of some fruit and a cocktail sitting on top of a foot square cube of ice. The ice doesn't show up in the photos except for ones taken by flash on the angle, then the edges just barely show up. It looks like the fruit and cocktail are floating in mid air.

                                  I enjoy carving ice for cocktails. I have gotten to the point I can carve an iceball with a sashimi knife or an ice pick in a few minutes. I'm working on carving ice jewels now. you need a VERY sharp sashimi knife for this.

                                  1. re: JMF

                                    Yike! You are more dedicated than I. (But I can't even carve a rose from a tomato and that should be fairly simple I'm told,]

                                    The most art-y I get is the "Gn & Ti-tonic" 'cubes' which have little 4-stack ships and little icebergs floating in your drink

                                  2. re: hazelhurst

                                    Two summers ago at Tales of the Cocktail in NoLa the group of cocktail writers rented a house and bought a Kold Draft ice machine and used it for the two weeks, then sold it cheap to a local bar. If you go to Cure they have great ice, as do a few other of the fine cocktail bars like the French 75 bar at Arnaud's. And a few other places.

                                    The cruddy ice many places use can be pretty good if it is 'dried.' basically letting it sit in a cooler for a few hours and the water drains off and the ice 'sets' harder and at equilibrium. I did this with really lousy ice from an old second hand ice machine in the winery I was partner in up in Maine. I would fill up coolers with sopping wet, fragile ice, close them up, wrap a comforter around them for additional insulation, and let sit overnight. then the ice would be very good. not large chunks, but great for stirring or shaking up cocktails.

                                    1. re: JMF

                                      That's good to know..I've frozen old milk cartons and plastic gallon jugs and done pretty well with it. Put in garbage bag and drop on a hard pick for the rest.

                                      I've not done the cocktail circuit as I am not that young...too set in my ways nowadays. Apart from restaurants, the only bars I get to are when I am invited to a club or a few classics in NYC and Boston. One "destination" bar I always loved--and it is not as though I go all the time, I hasten to add--is the American Bar at the Savoy where it was always said you could get the only real martini in London..on the rocks,too, if you want (although my American Standard Dry MArtini and Safety brochure condemns this practive. But in New Orleans, I like it better...besides, it reminds me, pleasantly, of my father). I love the "view" at teh American Bar...wall of the building and the THames in the distance

                                      1. re: JMF

                                        BTW, I understand that Tales of the Cocktail presented Mr Franzell with a talk on my old favorite, Charles H Baker, Jr. I grew up reading his stuff which my folks had laid in in the 1940's. I love it so much that I bought a copy of the 1939 Derrydale edition.

            2. So funny you brought that up. I've been lusting after King Cake, after seeing it in the stores. I know it won't be the real deal (I'm in Georgia after all), so I've resisted temptation. Has anybody made one this year? I've also been wondering if I could make an acceptable Grits and Grillades with soy grits, which we really like with lovely cheeses and butter. Libations, hmmm. If anybody wants it, here's a link with some traditional drink recipes. Oh, and alkapal, thanks for the music. Dr. John's a fav - and Louis Armstrong, of course.

              9 Replies
              1. re: sancan

                oh looky at all of those lovely cocktails! thanks for the link, sancan.

                i didn't know hurricanes were made with passion fruit juice. is that why i like them? isn't the flavor similar to hawaiian punch? ;-). <maybe i'm thinking of a planter's punch instead>.

                also, on a different note, i've never had soy grits. how are the texture and the flavor?

                1. re: alkapal

                  Yep, passion fruit is the major flavor you recognize (Gio - I've never seen a blue hurricane, but then.....). I do think hurricanes taste exactly like hawaiian punch, which is why they are so lethal. Many a tourist has sucked a few down waaay too fast, and suffered for it. Which, of course, calls for a Cajun Bloody Mary the next morning, complete with pickled green bean.

                  The soy grits aren't bad, with lots of butter, cheese and other goodies. Frankly, regular corn grits are better with the goodies, too. You can order soy grits online, but I just soak dry soybeans overnight, drain them and whiz up with an immersion blender. Before somebody says Frankenfood, I hasten to add that we have dietary restrictions, y'all. Soy grits n grillades better than NO grits n grillades.

                  1. re: sancan

                    Oh... what the heck was I thinking about then. There's a drink that absolutely looks like Windex. And no... to your next question.

                    ETA: Like the thought of a Cajun Bloody Mary, though. With a shrimp as garnish.

                    1. re: sancan

                      I've seen blue hurricanes made with blue curaçao. I'm not certain how traditional they are, but they definitely exist.

                      1. re: JungMann

                        Thanks JungMann. I knew I'd seen and imbibed.

                        BTW: I'll have an order of your Deviled Eggs, the Muffuletta antipasto platter, and the Duck and shrimp gumbo. The creamsicle flavored shot sounds decadant... (as if we don't have a culinary imagination...)

                        1. re: Gio

                          I figured that. So much has changed since I lived down there. I visit often, but don't drink much anymore. Bet your blue Hurricane was killer. Once upon a time I drank some lovely little blue shots at Pat O'Briens. Also killer, but don't remember the name.

                          1. re: sancan

                            "Killer" is exactly right. Very, very sweet, tho. I don't like sweets in general but you know. When in Rome, or in my case, Scranton PA. LOL

                        2. re: JungMann

                          The hurricanes are not blue, at Pat O's the Skylab fallout or Pete's Special as we called them as kids, became a bluish green when stirred. Hurricanes are always red

                          1. re: JungMann

                            I found it...! A Bicardi Blue Hurricane. So there.


                            Laissez les bons temps rouler ....

                    2. fellow hound, "monch," on the spirits board has provided a list of new orleans favorites:

                      thanks mr. monch!

                      1. I start planning the next Mardi Gras right on Ash Wednesday! This year's menu is mostly the same usual suspects with a few substitutions here and there.

                        Deviled eggs
                        Pickled vegetables and grapes
                        Muffuletta antipasto platter
                        Pimento cheese soldiers
                        Scallion and bacon cocktail biscuits

                        Duck and shrimp gumbo
                        Natchitoches meat pies
                        Hush puppies
                        Pork cracklins
                        Deviled crab cakes
                        EDITED: Also making potato doughnuts with beef gravy "coffee"

                        King cake with cream cheese filling
                        Compost cookies
                        Cajun fries with duck fat powder (if I can find maltodextrin!!)

                        Still debating drinks. I'm currently infusing vodka with milk, oranges and vanilla for a creamsicle flavored shot whose name I cannot print in a family forum such as this. I'll probably also put out pink gin with Peychaud's and a sangria.

                        20 Replies
                        1. re: JungMann

                          wow, jungmann, you're doin' it up!

                          i love that idea for the muffuletta antipasto platter.

                          pimento cheese soldiers? p-cheese in celery?

                          compost cookies? LOL!

                          do you pickle the grapes?

                          mmm, i want those cocktail biscuits. they'd be good with some jalapeño jelly or honey or jezebel sauce.

                          btw, everyone, i encourage you to make jezebel sauce and use it for SOMEthing on mardis gras.

                          1. re: alkapal

                            The cheese soldiers are just finger sandwiches cut into long rectangles instead of triangles. I think I might have time to make jalapeño jelly, so that might be an option for the biscuits, otherwise, since it's Carnival, I'll make a compound butter or some sort of griebenschmalz from my duck fat.

                            Grape pickle recipe:

                            1. re: JungMann

                              have you ever made pineapple butter? i had it at "lunch on limoges" restaurant (dade city, florida) on their mini zucchini muffins. it is slightly sweet, and not identifiable as pineapple -- just delicious.

                              neat idea to pickle grapes!

                              1. re: JungMann

                                I think ya gotta have headcheese..either solid or melted(as a dip) or both....and the eternal block of softened cream cheese with Pickapeppa sauce poured over it

                                1. re: hazelhurst

                                  I was going to do cream cheese with Pickapeppa and Triscuits, but I am having a surprisingly difficult time locating Pickapeppa. I plan on visiting a few more stores with a large Caribbean customer base.

                                  Alkapal, I'd love your recipe for pineapple butter. The combination of pineapple with bacon would be perfect.

                                  1. re: JungMann

                                    for the butter, just reduce some juice from canned crushed pineapple and blend with softened butter. add some of the pineapple itself for texture, i you'd like.

                            2. re: JungMann

                              Can I make the meat pies ahead and reheat on a grill? We're BBQing while skiing with a Mardi Gras them!

                              1. re: sillysully

                                You can definitely make the meat pies ahead, but I've never tried reheating cooked dough on a grill. You could probably do it with indirect heat on a gas grill -- though charcoal might lend a pleasant smokiness. Baked meat pies are also not bad at room temperature.

                              2. re: JungMann

                                Can I please get your scallion and bacon cocktail biscuit reecipe.

                                1. re: drewb123

                                  They're just a standard recipe for buttermilk biscuits with crumbled bacon and chopped scallions added to the mixture. I ended up not making these for last night's Mardi Gras, but they were not missed as the hush puppies turned out very well with their buttermilk dip.

                                  The infused vodka was also a pain to filter, but the results were extremely smooth and luscious. The entire bottle was quickly and eagerly consumed.

                                  1. re: JungMann

                                    Jungmann: I am only cooking for 3 people and Jambalaya (chix and andadouille) is going to be my main. Looking for a yummy app to go nicely with the main...any suggestions?

                                    1. re: drewb123

                                      Frank Brigtsen's rabbit over grits cake is so awesome that even when I substitute a humble chicken tenderloin for the rabbit we all still moan and swoon.

                                      1. re: AreBe

                                        that recipe looks very appetizing indeed. thanks for posting the link.

                                        for the convenience of other 'hounds, i'm posting the link to the website of creole and cajun coookery from which that recipe comes:
                                        by chuck taggart.

                                        he quotes:
                                        "New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin."
                                        -- Mark Twain, 1884

                                        chuck taggart's list of great new orleans cocktails:

                                      2. re: drewb123

                                        I think pimento cheese canapes are one of the South's greatest treasures. Certainly those were one of the biggest hits at my Carnivale party this year (next to the perenially-loved deviled crab cakes). If you are doing a seated dinner for just 3 people, however, I might take that as license to go adventurous and make something interesting as an appetizer like shrimp and grits cakes, scallops on macque choux, duck gumbo or shrimp creole with garlic crostini. These are big suggestions to be sure, it is carnivale afterall, but if you are looking for something small to whet the appetite before dinner, cracklins/grattons and Abitas would be hard to beat. And their simplicity is hard to match. In any case, go with something with some texture to pit against the jambalaya.

                                        1. re: JungMann

                                          oh, my sister adores cracklins, and i confess that i'm a big fan, too.

                                          1. re: JungMann

                                            any recipes you would like to share for the shrimp crostini or pimento cheese canape?

                                            1. re: drewb123

                                              I make pimento cheese by grating sharp cheddar and mixing it with mayonnaise, diced roasted red peppers, garlic powder, a bit of grated onion and a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Let it sit in the fridge overnight. To make the canapes, simply spread a generous amount over crustless white bread and cut into triangles. Garnish with dill fronds.

                                              As for the crostini, I actually meant to write shrimp remoulade which I envisioned served on a bed of greens with 3 garlic crostini radiating from them. Shrimp creole, a light brown roux base with the trinity, diced tomatoes, shrimp stock, thyme, allspice and Sriracha is too much like jambalaya to be a good contrasting starter.

                                    2. re: JungMann

                                      JungMann, are you celebrating in a similar way this year?

                                      1. re: prima

                                        We celebrated a week early this year and focused the menu just a bit to make up for a smaller guest list and allow me the luxury of spending less time in the kitchen and more with my guests.

                                        This year's drinks were spicy bourbon bucks and a shot made from orange rind-infused milk, coffee tequila and amaretto.

                                        1. re: JungMann

                                          Thanks for the link to your post. Sounds like it was a decadent dinner party!

                                    3. here's a tip on some mardis gras tv programming: