Monday, February 4, 2013

Mardi Gras Party!

Not many people celebrate Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, or know much about it but I thought I'd stop and make a post on it for the holiday. I love Mardi Gras because the festival happens in New Orleans (and other places around the world) and is Louisiana is steeped in the French languages and traditions. I'm a big fan of France and all its traditions, the language and the food.  Fat Tuesday falls on the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. During the 46-day Lent period, many Christians forego the eating of meat, either completely or on Fridays.
The traditional Mardi Gras colors are purple, green and gold. Purple is meant to stand for justice, green for faith, and gold for power. The bead throwing started in 1900's with plastic beads and now you never know what you'll get, beads are pretty traditional at Mardi Gras though you don't have to flash anyone to wear them! Masks are also very traditional at Mardi Gras, originally meant to hide the faces of the "krewes" who made the floats in secrecy. Doubloons are also a Mardi Gras tradition, handed out to the revelers by the "krewes" who made the fantastic floats.
I love food and dressing up so this is really a great holiday for me. Lots of foods that are Creole, Cajun, or French can be considered traditional to Mardi Gras. King cake is common at Mardi Gras and traditionally has a token (usually a small plastic baby to represent Christ as a child) that, when found, gives the finder good luck for the upcoming year.
Recipe for King Cake

1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2/3 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup melted butter

  1. Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
  5. To Make Filling: Combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup raisins. Pour 1/2 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.
  6. Roll dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 10x16 inches or so). Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings. Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet. With scissors make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 inch intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Push the doll into the bottom of the cake. Frost while warm with the confectioners' sugar blended with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water.

Fried Oysters

2 eggs, lightly beaten

  1. Heat deep fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Combine flour, salt and black pepper. Dredge oysters in flour mixture, dip in egg and roll in bread crumbs.
  3. Carefully slide oysters into hot oil. Cook five at a time until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Drain briefly on paper towels. Serve hot.
Easy Jambalaya

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

  1. Heat oil in large deep skillet or 5-quart Dutch oven on medium heat. Add onion and bell peppers; cook and stir 7 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, water and Jambalaya Mix. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 15 minutes.
  3. Stir in shrimp and sausage. Cover and cook 10 minutes longer or just until shrimp turn pink and rice and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.

As far as decorations for a Mardi Gras party, stay simple. Scatter beads, masks, gold coins and stick to the colors purple, gold, and green. Streamers and balloons with noisemakers would be more than sufficient. Don't forget to have some upbeat jazz music in the background too!

Here is a link where you can get 144 Mardi Gras colored necklaces for $10.50
Here is a link to some feathered Mardi Gras masks 15$ for 12
Here is a link on the same site to all their CHEAP Mardi Gras decorations
Here is a link to fake doubloons for Mardi Gras festivities 5$/144
Here is a link to chocolate doubloons 10.50$/60
Useful Links:
The History of Mardis Gras
Mardi Gras Around the World
30 Classic Mardi Gras Recipes from Southern Living!

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