Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Mardi Gras - Heidi and Chandler - February 2015

Heidi and Chandler threw the evening of all Mardi Gras parties with flair and perfection for our February Gourmet Night.
We got a darling invite in the mail full of confetti, sparkles, beads and a mask. It was darling.
They hosted at Chandlers' home and had it decorated all throughout. Fun masks and sparkly tulle on the porch with 
an awesome hanging decor on the front door. 
Inside was done up with feathers, beads, boas, sparkles, ornaments and everything else fitting to the theme.
The table looked great and the bright colors really stood out against the black. 
Each place setting had a mask and was set on the most beautiful china. 
I believe it was Chandler's grandmothers and was simply gorgeous!
Name tags were on a cute wire stand with a mini mask pin at the base. All the little details were fantastic.
 The centerpiece was a glass vase filled with balls, beads, mini masks and more along with a ornate mask at the base.
In the front room as we entered they had a table set up for us to each make our own party hat and get decked out in beads and feathers.
Everyone was ready for a great evening!
And a delicious one at that. The menu lined it out and we were all anxious to get started.
 The appetizer table looked delicious and had fun decor and accents as well.

We started with a New Orleans Hurricane to drink. Not only was the color fantastic the flavor was spot on and they even had it over pebble ice which is every ones favorite.
The French Quarter Cheese Spread was seriously sinful! It was a gorgeous platter and I'm pretty sure we all wanted to lick it clean it was SO good! The pecan topping was to die for.
 The Muffuletta Salad was fun and tangy with the variety of olives and had great flavor.
 Hot Bayou Crab Dip was delicious.
 A truly flavorful plate to start with.
 We chatted and enjoyed in the family room and then moved to the dinning room for our meal.
Cajun Creole Gumbo with Andouille sausage and shrimp was perfection.  Spot on flavor.
The Mardi Gras Slaw was awesome as well and had a side of French Sour Dough with chilled herb butter.
 The main course of Seafood Étouffée with shrimp, scallops and crab, Voo Doo Green Beans with brown sugar saucy and Berry Trifle Salad was killer.  The green beans had everyone raving and some may have been trying to steal the Étouffée off of other's plates.  We were all very impressed with the flavors.
 Dessert was a taster of Crio Bru which is roasted cocoa beans French pressed. Served with whip cream and chocolate and caramel sauce. A unique and enjoyable flavor with tons of health benefits actually.
Braided King Cake is a tradition in the south and there was even a mini plastic baby figure in it as per tradition, the lucky recipient of would get to host our next gourmet night. Lisa got it!
 They served it up in slices along with Care Du Monde Beignets, so good, and Vanilla frozen yogurt with praline sauce. Truly wonderful flavors all evening long!
  The sent us home with all our recipes, some candied pecans and a Cajun seasoning to make the recipes.
Perfect night ladies!

New Orleans Hurricane
V8 tropical blend
Orange juice

Carbonated lemon-lime beverage

Mix ice, Tropical blend and orange juice thoroughly.
Fill hurricane glass ¾ full.
Pour the grenadine over the juices without stirring.
Pour soda on top to fill glass without stirring.

Hot Bayou Crab Dip
1/2 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, free of shells
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
5 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 cup grated parmesan
3 tablespoons minced green onions (white and green parts)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon Joe’s Stuff
Salt and pepper to taste
Shredded cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Combine all of the ingredients in a casserole dish and gently stir until thoroughly mixed. Adjust seasoning to taste.  Top with cheddar cheese.
3. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until lightly golden on top. Serve hot.

Muffuletta Salad
1 cup Italian olive salad, drained
1 cup diced salami (about 4 oz.)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped pepperoncini salad peppers
1 (2 1/4-oz.) can sliced black olives, drained
4 ounces provolone cheese, diced
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
Serve with: French bread crostini

Stir together all ingredients together. Cover and chill 1 to 24 hours
before serving. Serve with French bread crostini.
Store leftovers in refrigerator up to 5 days.

French Quarter Cheese Spread
8 oz softened cream cheese
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T. grated onion
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t. mustard
1 cup chopped pecans

Combine cream cheese, garlic and onion in a bowl.  Mix well and shape into a 6-inch disk, 1 inch thick.  Place on a serving plate and chill in refrigerator
Melt butter over medium heat with brown sugar, Worcestershire, mustard and pecans in a saucepan, until warm and blended.  Pour pecan mixture over cheese disk and return to refrigerator until 1 hour before serving.  Remove from refrigerator and let stand until room temperature is reached.  Serve with assorted breads, crackers, and fruit.

Cajun Creole Gumbo
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup canola oil (or ¾ cup bacon drippings)
1 large onions chopped
1 bell pepper chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound Andouille sausage sliced
3 quarts water
6 cubes beef bouillon
1 tablespoon white sugar
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce, or to taste (such as Tabasco)
½ teaspoon Cajun seasoning blend (such as Joe’s Stuff)
4 bay leaves
1 14.5 can diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons gumbo file powder (optional, can be put on separate)
2 tablespoons bacon drippings or oil
2 (10 ounce) packages frozen cut okra, thawed
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 pound lump crabmeat
3 pounds uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1.     Make a roux by whisking the flour and oil (or bacon drippings) together in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat to form a smooth mixture.  Cook the roux, whisking constantly, until it turns a rich mahogany brown color.  This can take up to 30 minutes; watch heat carefully and whisk constantly or roux will burn.  Remove from heat; continue whisking until mixture stops cooking.
2.     Stir the celery, onion, green bell pepper, and garlic into the roux, and mix in the sausage.  Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat, and cook until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside.
3.     Bring the water and beef bouillon cubes to a boil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot. Stir until the bouillon cubes dissolve, and whisk the roux mixture into the boiling water.  Reduce heat to a simmer, and mix in the sugar, salt, hot pepper sauce, Cajun seasoning, bay leaves, thyme, and diced tomatoes.  Simmer the soup over low heat for 1 hour, mix in 2 teaspoons of file gumbo power at the 45-minute mark – optional)
4.     Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings or oil in a skillet, and cook the okra with vinegar over medium heat for a few minutes; remove okra with slotted spoon, and stir into the simmering gumbo. Mix in crabmeat, shrimp, and Worcestershire sauce, and simmer until flavors have blended, approximately 45 minutes.

Note: The file gumbo powder thickens the gumbo.  Often it is just set on the table to use individually.

Mardi Gras Slaw
3 cups green cabbage
2 cups red cabbage
2 Granny Smith apples, grated
2 carrots, grated or thinly sliced
3-5 green onions, chopped
2 cobs corn, cooked and cut off the cob
¾ cup light oil
                  ¾ cup white vinegar
3/8 cup sugar
2 tsp salt

Mix the cabbages, apple, carrots, green onion, and
corn gently together.
In a small dish combine the oil, vinegar, sugar and salt.
Toss vegetables and oil mixture.

Berry Trifle Salad
Package of raspberry Jello
1/2 block of cream cheese
4 Tb. Milk
2 Tb. Powdered sugar
Carton of fresh raspberries
Mint leaves

1.Prepare 1 package of Raspberry Jello  (I prefer a little less water than box directions so that it's a firmer jello)
2. Pour Jello into dessert glasses
3. Combine 1/2 block of softened cream cheese with 4Tb. Milk (to thin to smooth consistency) and 2 Tb. Powdered sugar.
4. Layer cream cheese mixture on top of jello (after jello has set up).
5. Top with fresh raspberries and garnish with mint leaves.

Seafood Etouffée
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra flour, optional
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped celery
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more if desired
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (Joe’s Stuff), or more- to season to desired taste
1/2 cup minced green onions, plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
2 to 3 dashes hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
1 (8-ounce) can clam juice
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes (recommended: Ro'tel)
2 pounds small or medium shrimp peeled and deveined (recommended: (31/35 size count)
1/2 stick butter
Diced green onions, for garnish

Note: To make roux, use oil instead of butter, because butter burns
Make the roux, mix oil and flour in a large heavy saucepan over low heat. Whisk flour into the oil to form a paste. Continue cooking over low heat and whisk continuously, until the mixture turns a caramel color and gives off a nutty aroma, about 15 to 20 minutes. To the roux, add the onion, green pepper, celery, and garlic and cook over low heat about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are limp. Add the black pepper, white pepper, cayenne pepper, Joe’s Stuff Cajun seasoning, green onions, parsley, and hot sauce to taste. Add 1 can clam juice and the tomatoes with their juice, stir to blend. Add the salt, starting with 1 teaspoon, then add more if needed. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Add shrimp and stir. It will take about 3 minutes for shrimp to cook, don't overcook. Remove from heat. Add the butter and stir; the heat from the dish will melt the butter.

Layer a baking dish with Sauce, pasta, sauce, pasta, sauce, and then top with Parmesan cheese and bake in oven until bubbly and cheese has browned slightly.
Garnish with the green onions.

Voo Doo Green Beans

For the Vinaigrette Marinade:
1/2 cup of olive oil
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons of Creole or other spicy mustard
1 tablespoon of dried minced onion
1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon of dried tarragon
1/4 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper

For the Bundles:
1 pound of fresh green beans, ends trimmed
12 slices of bacon, or one slice per bundle
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Whisk together all of the ingredients for the marinade and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to boil and drop beans in. Return to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Beans need to be very tender. Drain, return to the pot, cover with ice and water to stop the cooking process and retain color. Drain green beans, place in a non-reactive bowl, and pour the marinade over beans and toss; set aside for 1 hour, tossing occasionally.

Meanwhile, precook the bacon enough to render the fat, but not until crisp. Preheat the broiler when ready to cook. Cover a shallow rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Bundle beans (I do 6 beans per bundle) and wrap one slice of bacon around the bundle, securing with a toothpick if needed, and reserving any leftover vinaigrette; place bundles on the foil. Sprinkle bundles with salt and pepper.

Place tray under the broiler, with the door ajar, for about 3 to 5 minutes per side, turning at least once, or until bacon is cooked as desired on both sides. Place bundles on a serving tray and serve as is, or drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the top; serve immediately.

Cook's Notes: These can be a little time intensive in prepping, but can be prepared and bundled ahead of time. Allow to come to room temperature before cooking. Can also substitute 2 (15 ounce) cans of whole green beans or an equal amount of frozen green beans and omit the boil and shock process needed with the fresh beans.

Brown Sugar Sauce: In a heavy skillet, melt 1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1/2 cup of light brown sugar, packed, 1/2 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning (optional), 2 teaspoons of chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt, and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Pour sauce all over the bundles.

Oven Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place beans in a baking pan, and bake for about 30 minutes, turning at least once. Finish under the broiler to crisp bacon, if desired. Serve immediately.

Southern Dump Bars
1 ½ C. Flour
2 C. Sugar
½ C. Hershey’s Cocoa Powder
1 C. Vegetable oil
5 eggs
1 tsp salt
2 Tb. Mexican Vanilla
4 cups of Hershey’s Tollhouse semi sweet chocolate chops

Dump all ingredients except chocolate chips in mixing bowl and mix well.
Pour batter into a 9x13 pan.
Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. (Do not over cook)



Praline Pecan Sauce

1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F.   Spread pecans on a baking sheet and bake for about 8-10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
Combine sugar, half-and half, and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute.  Remove from heat; stir in pecans and vanilla.  Cool, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes.  Serve warm.  You can make this sauce up to 3 days ahead and reheat.

Cafe Du Monde Beignets
1 packet dry yeast
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
2 large eggs (slightly beaten)
1 tsp. of salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup of shortening
7 cups flour
Canola oil
Powdered sugar

1.  Combine 1 (1/4 oz.) envelope of active dry yeast, 1⁄2 cup warm water (105º to 115º), and 1 tsp. granulated sugar in bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer; let stand 5 minutes. Add 1 cup evaporated milk, 2 large eggs (slightly beaten), 1 tsp. of salt, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar.
2.  Microwave 1 cup water until hot (about 115°); stir in 1/4 cup of shortening until melted. Add to yeast mixture. Beat at low speed, gradually adding 4 cups flour, until smooth. Gradually add 2 1⁄2 to 3 cups more flour, beating until a sticky dough forms. Transfer to a lightly greased bowl; turn to grease top. Cover and chill 4 to 24 hours.
3.  Turn dough out onto a floured surface; roll to 1⁄4-inch thickness. Cut into 2 1⁄2-inch squares.
4.  Pour oil to depth of 2 to 3 inches into a Dutch oven; heat to 360°. Fry dough, in batches, 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on a wire rack. Dust immediately with powdered sugar.

Braided King Cake

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) Quick Rise yeast
1 cup milk (120º to 130º)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, cut into 12 pieces

Cinnamon Filling:
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 cup powdered (confectioners) sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

dark green, purple, and yellow or gold sugars
miniature plastic baby

Mix 2 1/2 cups flour and yeast in mixing bowl, using the paddle attachment, on low for about 30 seconds.
Heat milk, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and milk is between 120º to 130º.
With mixer on low, pour in liquids and mix until incorporated. Add eggs one at a time. Continue mixing until a shaggy dough forms. Clean off paddle and switch to dough hook. Mix in the remaining 1 cup flour a little at a time, adding more or less flour as needed to make a soft dough. Add the softened butter, a piece at a time, kneading until each piece of butter is absorbed.
Knead for eight minutes on low. The dough should completely clear the sides of the bowl. If it is too sticky, add additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing in thoroughly before determining if more flour is needed. If the dough seems too dry, spritz with water from a spray bottle a couple of times, mixing in thoroughly before determining if more water is needed. Every 2 minutes, stop the machine, scrape the dough off the hook, and then continue kneading.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times by hand to be sure it’s smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a ball. Place dough into a greased bowl. Turn once so greased surface is on top. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
While the dough is chilling, make cinnamon filling. Combine the brown sugar and ground cinnamon. Combine butter with cinnamon mixture and mix well.
Roll the chilled dough into a 10 x 20 inch rectangle. Spread the filling on half of the long side of the dough. Fold the dough in half covering the filling. Pat dough down firmly so the dough will stick together. Cut dough into three long strips. Press the tops of the strips together and braid the strips. Press the ends together at the bottom. Gently stretch the braid so that it measures 20 inches again. Shape it into a circle/oval and press the edges together. If desired, hide the miniature plastic baby in between the ends of the circle before sealing together in a ring. (You can also make a slit in the bottom of the cake and put the baby in after the cake is baked.)
Transfer the ring to a parchment lined or greased baking sheet. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled, about 1 hour. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350º. Bake the cake until it is golden brown, 20 – 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes on baking sheet and then place it on a cooling rack to cool completely before icing.
In a small bowl, mix powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth (add additional milk if mixture is too thick or powdered sugar if too thin).
Spoon icing over top of the cake. Immediately sprinkle on colored sugar, alternating between the three colors.

Tips: - Use a pizza cutter to easily cut dough into strips. - The cake can also be made without braiding. Just roll up the dough jelly roll style after spreading the filling.

Pecan Pralines
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. light brown sugar
2 Tbs. light corn syrup (KARO)
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
4 Tbs salted butter
pinch of sea salt
1 1/2 c. pecans

1. Bring the sugars, cream, butter, and salt to a boil.  Cook, stirring occasionally for about 4 minutes.
2. Stir in the pecans. Return to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, for about one more minute.
3. Remove from heat and spoon onto parchment-lined baking sheets.  Let set at room temperature until completely cool.