Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mardi Gras

Thirteen Years ago on Fat Tuesday I went into labor after eating a massive Cajun meal! My daughter Emma Rose was born on Ash Wednesday at 4:44. A.m. This time of year I always crave red beans and rice! My friend Barry Cooper is one of the best Southern/Cajun chefs I know. His slow, sensuous approach to food is just how I think of cooking on the Bayou. His corn Maque Choux is one of the most amazing things I have ever tasted. I have learned so much about this type of cooking from him. If you are in the mood for something to do with the kids, making French Beignets can be a Mardi Gras blast! I usually make up to the point of rising, and when we are ready to go I roll out and let the kids have a blast. The traditional way is to cut out in ribbons and then to squares, but I let the kids use cookie cutters or cut out whatever fun shapes they like. I also keep the kids way away from the deep-frying. I think with all that is happened in New Orleans this year it is a great time to have a party and celebrate life and those you love.

Red Beans and Rice
1 pound red beans
4 tablespoons oil
2 Medium onions chopped fine
1 green bell pepper
2-teaspoon salt
1-teaspoon black pepper
1/2-teaspoon red pepper
1/2-teaspoon white pepper
2 cups chopped scallions
1 cup chopped parsley
2 smoked ham hocks (or salt pork)
2 pounds andouille sausages
3 garlic cloves
1-teaspoon sugar

Mahatma Brand Rice
3people per dry cup
3 bay leaves
Soak beans over night, and then drain saving the water. In a big pot over medium heat sauté’ onion, bell pepper, garlic and sausages. Then add beans, 1-cup scallions, and all seasonings and cover plus one inch with reserved bean water. Add ham hocks and bring to a hard boil. Lower to medium heat. Stir occasionally for 2 hours. (Add water if drying out) Take out 3 cups of beans and mash them up and put back into the pot. Garnish with scallions and parsley and serve over rice.

Shrimp Creole
3 pounds, peeled, deveined shrimp
1/4-cup butter
6 tablespoons flour
16 oz can of tomato sauce
1 chopped onion
3 stalks chopped celery
1 chopped bell pepper
8 cloves chopped garlic
1/2-cup hot water
Juice of one lemon
4 bay leaves
1/2-teaspoon sugar
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
1/2 cup green onions

In a heavy pot melt butter. Sauté all seasonings until tender (about 5 minutes.) Add flour and blend well. Add tomato sauce, hot water and sugar. Cook over medium heat approximately 30 minutes. Season to taste. Add shrimp and cook 30 minutes longer.

Corn Maque Choux (otherwise known as Smothered corn ya dern fool)
. It is also a great side for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, …for that matter any time you want to be a darn fool. The keys to the dish are “spicy”, “sweet” and “rich.” So before serving, adjust all three of these elements if needed with additional cayenne pepper, sugar and butter. Some people make it even richer by adding a well-beaten raw egg and some evaporated milk. (Not sweetened, condensed milk.) Some people also combine this dish with boneless chunks of chicken, and serve over rice as a main dish.

7 cups fresh corn off the cob or frozen corn kernels (appox. 18 ears-More trouble than it is worth)
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 onion, chopped very fine
1 green pepper chopped very fine
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups pork or chicken stock
1/8 to 1/4 cup sugar (to taste)
1/2-teaspoon thyme
1/2-teaspoon basil or 2 bay leaves (you’re choice, but not both)
1/2-teaspoon paprika
1/2-teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4-teaspoon black or white pepper
2 tablespoons cream
3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon minced parsley
4 tablespoons butter
Cut corn from cob by cutting down through the kernels, then scraping the pulp. Sauté’ the onion and pepper in oil over medium-high heat. Add the corn and seasonings. If using fresh corn wait until the bottom forms a crust before stirring. If it is sticking excessively, thin with stock. Add remaining ingredients, including 1 cup of the stock. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a very low temperature. Simmer covered, 30-45 minutes, stirring to make the flavors blend.

Corn Bread
1-cup buttermilk
2 eggs, well beaten
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1-cup flour
1-teaspoon baking powder
1/2-teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar.
Spray a 9-inch square pan with bakers joy. Combine buttermilk, eggs and butter. In a medium bowl mix cornmeal, flour baking powder, sugar and salt. Stir in the buttermilk mixture until just mixed. The batter may be a bit lumpy. Pour into the greased pan. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes until the top of the bread is golden brown.

Jalapeno Cornbread
Great flavor with a nice kick!!!
4 eggs
1-cup buttermilk
2 cups corn, fresh, frozen or canned
2 sticks melted butter
4 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
2 cups cornmeal, blue, yellow or white
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Mix in a large bowl. Spray a loaf pan with bakers joy. Bake at 350 for about one hour or until golden on top.

Rice Pudding
5 eggs beaten
3 cups sugar
6 cups milk
2 cups cooked rice
1-tablespoon vanilla
1-tablespoon nutmeg
1-cup raisins (optional)
In a double broiler, heat milk over medium heat until hot. (Do not boil.) Add eggs and sugar, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. Add vanilla, nutmeg and rice. Blend well. Remove from heat and refrigerate until cool.

Lemon Meringue Pie
1 1/2 cups sugar
Pinch of salt
1/12 cups water
1/3-cup cornstarch
6 tablespoons butter
5 eggs, separated
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 baked 9- inch pie shell (page)

In a large saucepan, combine sugar and salt with butter, egg yolks and water. Heat over low heat until well dissolved. In small bowl blend cornstarch and 1/2 cup cold water. Add to hot mixture. Heat over low heat for five minutes. Remove from heat and add lemon juice and rind. Cool slightly and pour into baked pie shell.

2/3-cup sugar
5 egg whites
1/4-teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tarter, constantly beating. Add salt and sugar, gradually until peaks form. Ice pie with meringue. Brown 10 minutes at 375.

French Beignets
5 cups all purpose flour
2 sticks butter
1 package yeast
1/2-cup sugar
1-cup milk
4 large eggs at room temperature

In a large bowl, put 5 cups of flour. In the middle of the flour, make a well. In the well, place the yeast and one teaspoon sugar. Dilute 2 sticks butter in 1-cup milk. Warm up and add to flour and yeast. Beat 4 eggs slightly and add to flour mixture. Work dough until smooth and elastic. More flour may be added to bring it to the right consistency. Work dough for 5-7 minutes. Make ball and place in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place a towel over the bowl.
Let rise until it doubles in size. Roll out with a rolling pin to the thickness of pie dough in the shape of a rectangle. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut ribbons about 2 inches thick, and then cut into squares. Fry in Crisco drain on a paper towel and sprinkle with powder sugar.

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