Mardi Gras foods are just as big a part of the celebration as are the beads and the parade. From traditional Cajun cooking to sweet treats, there are several common recipes that help people in New Orleans and the world over celebrate the holiday. Whether you're living in the French Quarter or trying to bring a bit of New Orleans to your neighborhood, these foods will help you get in the spirit of Carnival.
Understandably, many traditional Mardi Gras foods are rich and satisfying. King Cake is one of the centerpieces of a Mardi Gras meal. This traditional sweet yeast bread is round with a hole like a donut and decorated in the Mardi Gras colors of purple, gold and green. There is a trinket or dry bean baked within the cake. Whoever gets the piece with the trinket has good luck for the following year. The trinket is often a gold coin, a gold ring or a small figurine of the baby Jesus.
Try this King Cake recipe for the bread machine.
Ingredients You Will Need:
½ cup of warm water
½ cup warm milk
2 tsp salt
1 ½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup oil
5 egg yolks
3 ½ cup unsifted flour
2 packages of active dry yeast
1 tsp cinnamon
Knead all ingredients except the cinnamon in the bread machine. After kneading, add the cinnamon, and knead it into the dough. Roll out the dough into a long log, and then bend the log so it forms a circle.
Bake the circle of dough at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. While the cake is still warm, hide a small plastic baby in the cake. Once it is cool, decorate with yellow-, purple- and green-colored lemon icing.
Another important Mardi Gras tradition is Creole and Cajun cooking. Gumbo is one of the most popular Cajun foods. Gumbo can have a variety of ingredients, but you can't go wrong with a chicken and sausage recipe.
Mardi Gras Gumbo
Ingredients You Will Need:
5 ½ lbs chicken pieces
1 ½ lb andouille or other spicy pork sausage, cut into diagonal medallions
3 onions, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ cups water
1 16 oz. can of whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups chicken stock
2 ½ cups white rice, rinsed and drained
1 cup thinly sliced scallions
Season the chicken with pepper and salt. Brown the chicken in oil over medium heat, and remove from the pan. Reduce the heat, and then add the sausage. Brown the sausage, and place it on a paper towel after removing from the pan. Use some of the fat from the sausage to cook the onions, celery and bell peppers until the onion is caramelized. Add in the garlic last. Transfer the vegetables to an 8-quart pot, and add in the chicken, water, tomatoes, cayenne and the stock. Simmer for about 30 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a clean bowl using tongs, and then make sure your pot has enough cooking liquid in it for the rice. If not, add more chicken stock. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, and then add the rice to the cooking liquid. Add the chicken back into the pot, and then transfer the pot into the oven to bake for 30 minutes. Remove, and let stand for 10 minutes. Sprinkle scallions on top.
With these recipes, you'll be well on your way to having a festive Mardi Gras party.
Why not make up a Mardi Gras hostess gift basket in Mardi Gras colors complete with some Cajun food, several jazz CDs, and a generous handful of Mardi Gras beads?
Masks, beads, crowns and parades make for a memorable Mardi Gras experience. The Mardi Gras colors of green (symbolizing faith), purple (justice) and gold (power) allow you to incorporate a lot of crafts into a Mardi Gras theme. There a lot of crafts you can make using these things for either Mardi Gras decoration, or just for fun.