Back to the Kitchen: Celebrate Mardi Gras

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Today I celebrate my beautiful baby’s 16th birthday. It was Fat Tuesday in 1996 a couple of weeks past my “due date” and I had feasted on red beans and rice with cornbread and homemade French beignets. Feeling very full and very pregnant I did my best to get comfortable. Suddenly my water broke and one major contraction and two pushes later at 4:44 a.m. on Ash Wednesday we welcomed Emma Rose into the world! Happy Birthday Miss Emma! Thank you for choosing me to be your mom! You are insanely beautiful, outrageously creative, smart and talented! I am truly amazed by the way you are stepping into who you are! Your dad and I are so proud of you!

We have had many parties and variations on the Mardi Gras theme over the years, but it always includes red beans and rice with homemade cornbread and all of the sultry New Orleans’s seasonings and the flavors of the Bayou! ! I invite you to take these recipes and have some fun with your family and celebrate Fat Tuesday in style!

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

Mahatma Brand Rice, 6 cups cooked

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.

 Bayou Crawfish

1 small onion, chopped

½ cup celery, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup butter, melted

½ teaspoon dried whole thyme

½ teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon dried basil

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1-teaspoon tomato paste

½ cup seafood stock

½ cup dry white wine

½ cup green onions, chopped

¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

½ teaspoon Creole seasoning

A few shakes hot sauce

2 pounds crawfish tails, peeled

3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Sauté the first four ingredients in butter until tender.  Mix in thyme and next four ingredients, stir well until all the liquid is absorbed by the flour and cook 5 minutes over low heat, stirring often.  Add seafood stock and wine, cook 15 minutes.  Stir in the crawfish tails, cover and simmer 15 minutes.  Stir in green onions, parsley, and Creole seasoning and hot sauce.  Cover and cook 5 minutes. Add cheese and cook for another 3 – 5 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 15 minutes before serving.  Serve over rice.

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.

Gwen Kenneally is the owner of Back to the Kitchen, Full Service Catering and Party Planning. Check out her website at Her Sweet and Savory Cookbook is available  through AMAZON  


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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

  • nooneh kradjian

    Hi Karen. I just texted myself the shrimp creole recipe and thought what a great idea it would be if there was a button next to the recipe that automatize the sending process to the cell phone of my choice. ~Nooneh

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