Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday — no matter what you call it, today’s all about uninhibited celebration full of indulgent eats. If you can’t make it to New Orleans to take part in the annual parades, bring a taste of the experience into your kitchen wherever you are with dishes incorporating the official Mardi Gras colors: purple, gold and green. For dessert, there’s always Louisiana-style king cake — a ring-shaped confection decorated with colored sugar that’s popular with the locals. This Shortcut King Cake made with store-bought crescent roll dough is good in a pinch! If you’re planning a more elaborate feast, try working the Mardi Gras rainbow into your main course or your sides. Trust us — it’s not as hard as it sounds!
Tag: mardi gras
By Kiri Tannenbaum and Erin Zimmer
This Mardi Gras, whether you’re in the Crescent City or celebrating from miles away, you should track down a taste of Creole cuisine. We’ve rounded up the best places to celebrate, whether you’re kicking up your heels with signature cocktails in Washington, D.C., spooning out gumbo in Los Angeles or enjoying a locals-approved French Quarter feast. As they say in New Orleans, laissez les bons temps rouler: Let the good times roll! Read more
Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday — no matter what you call it, tomorrow’s all about indulgent, no-holds-barred eats, drinks and celebrations, especially in New Orleans, where Mardi Gras takes on an over-the-top culture all its own. If you can’t make it to the French Quarter to take part in the annual parades or dress up in the signature purple, green and gold colors, bring a taste of the experience into your kitchen wherever you are by recreating classic NOLA-style classics right at home.
Piled high with layers of Italian deli meats and cheeses and a hearty layer of briny, tangy olive-pepper salad, Jeff Mauro’s Monster Muffaletta (pictured above) serves as a hearty base in your stomach to soak up whatever it is you’ll be drinking all day. But perhaps best of all, this big-batch sandwich is a no-cook standby that can be assembled and ready to eat in only 10 quick minutes.
“First, you make a roux” is the start of many Creole and Cajun recipes. Roux is a cooked mixture of fat (butter) and starch (flour) used to thicken many sauces in classic French cooking. A Creole roux is not the classic French butter-flour mixture, but usually a combination of oil, such as peanut, and flour. Unlike a French roux, which can be white to pale golden, Cajun roux are typically the color of peanut butter, at the very least, and progress to a deep, dark brown. This process can take 45 minutes or so of constant stirring. It is dangerous stuff. If any splatters on you, it will be perfectly clear why this fiery, sticky combination of oil and flour is often referred to as “Cajun napalm!” Read more
by Todd Coleman
I made my first trip to New Orleans in the late ’80s and remember one thing vividly: the muffuletta sandwich. Salty, sweet and tangy between two pieces of bread, it was delicious, perfect. Little did I know how important it was to become to me.
I grew up as an Air Force brat, moving all around, all the time, and had just moved from Germany to Florida with my family in 1986. It was a shock, to everyone. Quickly, instinctively, my dad took us on a trip to New Orleans. The relief set in immediately. I reveled in the old buildings, the Stephen King novel I was reading, the endless cultural thingamajigs and the food. I read about the muffuletta in my dad’s guidebook and begged to go the Central Grocery — the sandwich’s creator.
The Mardi Gras parade, dating all the way back to the late 1830s, included street processions of maskers with carriages and horseback riders — some carrying fascinating gaslight torches. Fast-forward to present day, the parade now consists of over-the-top floats, exotic costumes, lots of beads, balls and never-ending feasts of King Cakes.
Louisiana native David Guas knows a thing or two about Mardi Gras, especially when it comes to food. His restaurant, Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery, is the first Washington, D.C. establishment to offer authentic delectable Southern sweets and savory casual eats. While King Cake gets all the glory during this time (as it deserves), we went to David and asked him, “If there were such a thing as parade route food, what would that be?” His answer: the classic hot dog. Well, sort of classic: “the Gras Dog,” he dubs it.
Why hot dogs? “There’s something to be said about the all-beef hot dog,” David says. “It’s about as American as they come and I think they’re the best. This is how you make a Gras Dog — Louisiana-style — and when it’s Mardi Gras time, your most important concern is how you juggle catching beads and keeping a cocktail or beer in the other hand. So when you take a break to eat and free up one hand to get some food fuel in your system, it has to be easy and take only a few bites to finish. After that, back out to catching beads.”
When Mardi Gras rolls around in New Orleans, king cake reigns supreme. Local bakeries crank out thousands of the ring-shaped cakes, topping each with purple, green and gold sugar and baking a plastic baby inside (getting the slice with the baby is considered good luck!). But when the holiday hits this February 12, fans will be drinking their cake too: Big Easy bartenders are using new king cake-flavored vodka, introduced last year, to create king cake cocktails, including this fun one from Carousel Bar & Lounge at the historic Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans’ French Quarter (214 Royal St.; hotelmonteleone.com). Just like a traditional king cake, the drink is cinnamon-spiced and decorated with colored sugar. We snagged the recipe so you can try it at home.
Try the recipe: Parade Time Cocktail
Courtesy of Besh Restaurant Group
Louisiana native and Next Iron Chef finalist John Besh has been celebrating Mardi Gras since he was a young boy. He remembers, “Night parades were for the older crowd but Mardi Gras Day (Fat Tuesday) was getting together and eating jambalaya on Saint Charles Avenue with my parents and all of their friends and spending the whole day eating and enjoying friends and family. We’d be on the hunt for a Zulu coconut from the first parade to run that day.” That tradition continues with his wife and kids by visiting the parade routes throughout Mardi Gras and on Fat Tuesday eating red beans and rice, fried chicken and jambalaya.
And, of course, beginning on Kings Day, everyone starts eating King Cake. As a kid, Besh recalls, “You’re eating King Cake in class least once a week if not more until Fat Tuesday and with every slice you’re thinking about the excitement of Mardi Gras Day.” With all this King Cake consumption Besh has definitely found his fair share of the porcelain figures called feves, one of which is hidden in the cake. The custom requires the finder to supply the next year’s cake, and we’re betting that everyone is pretty happy when Besh gets that job.
There is something so appealing about a hi-hat cupcake. It brings me back to childhood summers when we would sit outside the ice cream shop and desperately try to lick up the ice cream as it melted down our arms. Cherry-dip was always my favorite, but I was always outnumbered by the chocolate lovers.
With Mardi Gras around the corner, I thought I’d bake up something the whole family can enjoy. New Orleans is known for many institutional cocktails, but these sweets will allow the little ones to participate in the fun too. You can’t go wrong with a delectable yellow cupcake covered in sweet clouds of frosting and gently dipped in chocolate. That first bite is transcendent, the second so satisfying.
Mardi Gras is the perfect excuse for a party, and not just any party — a New Orleans-themed party. I don’t know if you’ve been to New Orleans (NOLA for short), but let me tell you this: Those people know how to party. I was there last year for a quick week and even this California girl had a hard time keeping up with the nightlife. That aside, you can’t forget the amazing Cajun and Creole food on every corner and the unforgettable cocktail scene with live music that pours into the streets at night. If you can’t head down south for Mardi Gras this year, re-create a NOLA-inspired appetizer for Fat Tuesday.
And who better to take inspiration from than the king of NOLA himself, Emeril.
This Mardi Gras Jambalaya from Emeril is one of my all-time favorites. I’ll make this for a big dinner party any day, but I wanted to turn it into an appetizer so it would be easy to eat — people can grab a bite and run back to the dance floor.