By Arritta Morris
It is that time of year for the Mardi Gras time in New Orleans, La. I have attended this festival several times and have such good memories of the foods that are served. I will share with you several recipes that are famous during this time.
1 round loaf of bread-muffuletta if you can fine it. or use a Italian style loaf,10 inches in diameter.
Olive salad-this can be found in the olive section
2 oz of salami, thinly sliced
2 oz Italian ham, thinly sliced-you may have to use regular ham
2 oz Provolone cheese, thinly sliced
Cut bread in half lengthwise and scoop out about half of the soft dough from top to bottom pieces,(this is to provide a place for the sandwich meats)
Layer salami, ham and cheese on the bottom piece. Top with as much olive salad as will fit without spilling out. Add top of loaf and press down slightly.
Slice in quarters and serve. Always serve at room temperature, never toasted.
New Orleans has parades for about half of the week. One time my best friend had me down as she wanted us to be in a parade. She told me she was making my costume. BIG MISTAKE!. She had me lay in a bathtub of green jello to dye my skin green. She made me a green suit and a large tree like head dress to top the entire thing. On the back of the costume she had printed “Kentucky Weed”. Being uneducated as I was I had no idea what Kentucky Weed could mean to others. I just thought I looked like a tree. I found out what type of weed I represented when I was approached by all the party crowd I ran into..Go figure.
The word beignet comes from the Celtic word bigne meaning “to raise”. It is also French for “fritter”. Beignets, a New Orleans specialty, are fried, raised pieces of yeast dough, usually about 2 inches in diameter.
1 cup of lukewarm water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg-room temp and beaten
2 tablespoons soft butter
1/2 cup evaporated milk
4 cups of bread flour or all purpose flour
3 teaspoons instant dry yeast
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Powered confectioner’s sugar for dusting
Using a mixer with a dough hook or you can use you bread machine, place water, sugar, salt, egg butter, evaporated milk, flour and yeast in the bowl. Beat until smooth. Remove the dough from bowl and turn out onto a lightly-oiled surface. Form dough into an oval, , place in a lightly-greased bowl. cover and refrigerate until well chilled. About 3 to 4 hours.
Making the beignets: Remove from the refrigerate, roll out on a lightly floured board to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut dough into 3 inch squares, triangles, or circles (your choice);set aside. Heat the oil to 360 degrees and slide the dough pieces into the hot oil. Turning once till brown. Drain on a paper towel and while hot, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
I had always wanted to go to Jimmy Buffet’s cafe so I went one year with a bunch of friends (I thought were) from Texas and New Orleans. Somehow I wound up having one of those long neck ice teas that I thought was a bargain as I could keep the glass. I thought it was just plain iced tea. After three of them I do not remember these so called friends getting my head shaved with my telephone number on the side of my head. I think they call the drink “long Island drink”. I still have the glasses and of course the friends.
New Orleans Pecan Pralines:
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups firmly-packed brown sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
2 cups pecan halves
In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, brown sugar, and evaporated milk: cook, stirring constantly until the candy thermometer reaches 236 degrees F. or when a small amount of sugar mixture dropped into a very cold water separates into a hard but not brittle threads. Immediately remove thermometer and remove sugar mixture from heat. Set saucepan in a large pan of cold water to cool. Butter a large sheet of wax paper; set aside. When sugar mixture has almost cooled, beat with a spoon 1 minute until it begins to lose it gloss. Stir in pecan halves and drop by tablespoons onto prepared waxed paper. Makes 36 small or 20 large pralines
If you really want to get the full Mari Gras experience, Blue Grass Catering will be serving a full meal of all the food items you can imagine on Fat Tuesday (Feb 12th) at the Red Mile in Lexington for lunch and dinner. Their email is email@example.com or call 859-233-0814 for reservations. I went last year and enjoyed foods that were served.
Happy Mari Gras week until next time at my table.
Arritta Morris is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University with a degree in Nutrition and a Masters degree in Counseling. She is certified as a Food Service Specialist with the School Nutrition Association.