Even if you don't hail from The Pelican State, there's no better excuse to party before the Lenten season than with Mardi Gras — after all, the purple, green, and gold only come out once a year! Live music and Krewe parades are but a few reasons why the debaucherous Carnival scene in New Orleans brings hundreds of thousands of visitors each early Spring, but undoubtedly, the biggest draw is the city's rich culinary history and unique perspective on food and drink. What do you know about the cuisine of New Orleans and Louisiana? To find out, keep clicking.Take the Quiz
Happy Fat Tuesday! On this last day of Mardi Gras before Ash Wednesday, I wanted to explore some ways to take the celebration home. Even if you can't make it to New Orleans, you can embrace the traditions of the holiday and city with some fun decorating ideas. Keep clicking for a few DIYs, independent designs, and other decorating tips that embrace the feel and look of Mardi Gras.
In New Orleans, red beans and rice are a weekly tradition, typically served on Mondays. I love to eat them every year on Fat Tuesday. But one thing remains a constant: a hearty meal slow-cooked on laundry day.
Historically, Monday was wash day in early 1900s Louisiana. The laundry took all day, so women would cook the beans and meat while the laundry dried. Today, most restaurants in New Orleans still feature red beans and rice as the Monday special.
My laundry day is Sunday, but it's just as suitable for red beans and rice cooking. It takes a little advanced planning, soaking the beans starting Saturday night, but once you've gotten that out of the way, it's ridiculously easy: put all ingredients in a pot and cook for three hours.
I like to make a lot and eat the leftovers throughout the week, since the flavors only improve with time. I do, however, like to make the rice fresh each day; this method leaves it just a little bit wet, which is the perfect complement to the thick, spicy gravy of beans. Get the recipe now.
About two years ago, it seemed that every bistro and gastropub in San Francisco, CA, began offering some kind of fried dough on its dessert menu, and whether it was called a doughnut, beignet, fritter, or funnel cake, the formula was about the same: a few airy puffs deep-fried to perfection and served with the chef's choice of sweet accompaniments.
Turns out there's a reason for this dessert's popularity: it's incredibly simple, comforting, and delicious all at once. You may have memories of digging into funnel cakes at the county fair, munching doughnuts from the corner bodega, or plowing through beignets at Cafe du Monde, but a basic fried dough recipe speaks to our deeply rooted food nostalgia.
This recipe represents my first stab at beignets, but it certainly won't be my last. Despite the hour-and-a-half dough-rising wait time, the hands-on steps were easy and relatively low mess (for a fry project). And there's a topping for you, whether you're a traditionalist or out to try something new: sprinkle them with powdered sugar, smudge them with jam or apple butter, drizzle with chocolate or salted caramel sauce, or try something wholly different with a sprinkle of sugar and matcha green tea powder. Ready for the recipe? Just keep reading.
When you think of Mardi Gras, beads, bourbon, and parades may come to mind, but the holiday is a big deal in lots of places oceans away from New Orleans. The lead up to Mardi Gras is known as Carnival, so the worldwide celebrations from Rio to Venice are actually all part of the same big global party. Whatever you call it, though, the week is the world's time for some of the most fabulous makeup, hair, and costuming you'll see all year. So grab a slice of king cake, get in the holiday spirit, and read on.
In honor of Mardi Gras, make a lighter (yet still flavor-packed) vegan version of the New Orleans favorite, jambalaya. The Cajun Trinity (and mirepoix variant), sautéed onion, bell pepper, and celery, along with the Creole seasoning give this dish a certified Southern flavor, while the rice, vegetables, and broth thicken to create a rich, creamy texture. This dish does require a few hours to prepare, but the payoff is worth the patience, and Cajun dishes are all about slow cooking and bringing people together. Serve the dish with sautéed collard greens and corn bread!
Making a king cake has never been one of my baking priorities, considering I've got little to no knowledge of Mardi Gras in general. But something came over me last week and I decided I wanted to take on this challenge. And a challenge it certainly was: I did a fair amount of research, finding an overwhelming number of different recipes and methods, then settled on a recipe from the king of New Orleans cooking himself.
King cake represents the three kings who brought gifts to the baby Jesus, and traditionally, whoever finds the dried bean or plastic baby in their piece of cake has to bring the next one or throw the next party. The three colors, purple, yellow, and green, are also significant. Purple signifies justice, while green represents faith and yellow, power.
Lots of yeast, colored sprinkles or frosting, and a dried bean or a plastic baby were all involved in Emeril's recipe, as was a serious hunt for candied citron (I imagine any kind of candied citrus would work well in its place). The recipe begins with forming the dough, then letting it rise for almost two hours, followed by kneading, shaping, and another rise.
The resulting cake was dense and chewy, much like the texture of a doughnut with a hint of lemon in the background. The sweetness comes from the icing and the sugar crystals, which I found to be a nice way to balance out the cake.
For more king cake photos and the recipe, keep reading.
Is there any better excuse for debauchery than Mardi Gras?! Get in the purple, green, and gold spirit with provisions shaped by and inspired from the city's rich history and culture. Start off your day with a Ramos gin fizz, and end it on a sweet note with a decadent ice cream bombe topped with flambéed bananas Foster! Here are a few of our Nola favorites; for more, check out all of our Mardi Gras recipes.
Ramos Gin Fizz
Bananas Foster Bombe
I hosted a belated Mardi Gras dinner last night (I know it is Lent, but I am not really Catholic) and made King Cake. I used a mix, but it was still very involved, so I was proud of how it turned out. Unfortunately I forgot to take a pic before cutting it!
It's a fun-filled month of Spring flowers, St. Patty's Day beer, and Mardi Gras beads, not to mention National Puppy Day! It doesn't get much better than that. For this festive and hoppin' month, I've got your pooch or kitty covered with my March must haves — check 'em out!