Category Archives: Louisiana

Fit for Royalty: King Cake – Louisiana

The parades! The parties! The food and drinks! Mardi Gras is in full swing down in New Orleans and will culminate on February 28, which is when Fat Tuesday falls this year. King Cake actually refers to the three kings who visited baby Jesus in his manger as the

King Cake - Louisiana

season extends from Epiphany until the day before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins. The French likely brought the King Cake tradition to New Orleans and it always includes inserting a plastic baby

Plastic babies for King Cake
Do you think we have eaten too many King Cakes through the years?

or dried bean in the cake after it is baked. The person who receives the piece with the trinket is said to be blessed with good luck and must host the next Mardi Gras party or buy the King Cake for the next party.

There are literally dozens of variations of fillings for this cake including cinnamon, praline and strawberry. We opted for a cream cheese and apricot filling which is a family favorite.  The cake is

Apricot and cream cheese filled King Cake

usually decorated with icing or sugar in the traditional Mardi Gras colors which signify justice (purple), power (yellow) and faith (green). We can’t lie, this cake is time consuming to make. To break up the steps, feel free to make the dough the day before. Let rise and then put into the refrigerator. So worth the effort and waaaaay cheaper than a plane ticket to NOLA.

If you are lucky enough to live near New Orleans or plan to visit in the next week, check out the Mardi Gras parade schedule so you don’t miss a moment of the action.

Apricot and Cream Cheese Filled King Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 3 1/2 hrs.
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

For Dough:

  • 1 envelope dry yeast
  • 1/8 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups flour (approx.)

For Filling:

  • 1 16 ounce can apricot pie filling
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 whole egg (for egg wash)
  • 2 tablespoons water (for egg wash)

For Icing/Finishing:

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk or half-n-half
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Yellow, purple and green colored sugar
  • One plastic baby, or uncooked bean

Instructions

For Dough:

In a small bowl, mix yeast with warm water. Add 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 teaspoon flour. Let sit until mixture begins to bubble. Meanwhile, heat milk in a medium saucepan until just boiling. Add butter and remaining sugar. Remove from heat and let stand until lukewarm. Add egg, egg yolk and yeast mixture. Beat with wire whisk until incorporated.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add liquid. Then add 1 cup flour. Beat using dough hook attachment until dough smooth. Add additional flour gradually and continue to beat until dough is elastic and glossy. Turn dough out into a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with a tea towel and let sit in warm place until dough has doubled in size, approximately 1.5 hours. Punch dough down and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to use. (Dough can be made day ahead and left in fridge overnight).

For Filling:

In a large bowl, mix cream cheese, sugar, flour, egg yolks and vanilla. If apricot filling is watery, drain in colander.

To Assemble:

Shape cold dough into a log. On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough until it is a rectangle shape, approximately 30 X 9 inches. Spoon the cream cheese mixture down the middle of the dough, longways, about 3 inches from the long edges but almost to the ends. Add the fruit filling right next to the strip of cream cheese. Mix the egg with the water to create an egg wash. Brush the edges of the dough with the egg wash. Fold one long edge over the filling, do the same with the other long edge. Turn seam side down onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Gently form into a circle, joining the ends together. Cover with a tea towel and let rest for approximately 30 minutes.

Brush cake with remaining egg wash. Cut several slits to allow heat to escape. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool completely.

Mix confectioners’ sugar with milk and vanilla. Spoon over cake. Sprinkle cake with colored sugars. Before serving, insert baby or bean into bottom of cake.

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler: Chicken, Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya – Louisiana

Next week is Mardi Gras (February 9, 2016) so the folks down in New Orleans have been celebrating a while now with parties, parades and all manner of revelry.  Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) celebrations have actually been around for thousands of years as

Chicken, Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya

festivals of spring and fertility but when Christianity was established, the holiday became associated with the last day of merry making and eating rich food before Lent.

Many dishes are associated with Mardi Gras including crawfish etouffee, gumbo and this jambalaya, a rice based dish that is great for serving a crowd.

If you wondered about the difference between Creole versus Cajun food, one basic difference is that Creole food uses tomatoes while Cajun food generally does not. Since we opted out of tomatoes with this dish, I guess we made Cajun jambalaya but you can use tomatoes if you want to make it Creole. Just add them when the other vegetables go in.

The protein in jambalaya can vary but we went with the very traditional chicken, shrimp and sausage. Feel free to modify based on your tastes.

Mardi Gras will be reaching a full fledged fervor this weekend with parades from the so-called “super krewes” of Orpheus, Bacchus and Endymion which feature the most massive and detailed floats. Check out www.mardigrasneworleans.com for a full schedule.

Chicken, Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 90 min.
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil
  • 3-4 pounds chicken thighs
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 3 tablespoons parsley, minced
  • 1 pound raw shrimp
  • 6 smoked sausages (Andouille or Polish)
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 ½ cups long grain white rice
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup water

 Instructions

In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil on medium heat until hot. Cook the chicken pieces with the skin on until golden brown on both sides. Remove chicken and set aside. Add the shrimp and sauté  2 minutes each side. Remove shrimp and set aside. Add all the vegetables into the pot and cook on medium until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the sausage and seasonings and cook until the sausage is browned. Add the chicken, broth and water. Stir gently, making sure chicken is submerged. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce to low, then cover the pot. Simmer for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and bring heat to medium for 10 minutes or until liquid is almost absorbed. During the last 10 minutes, remove chicken. When it is cool enough to handle, remove meat, discard skin and bones and add shredded meat back into jambalaya. Add the shrimp and cook until heated through.

Feast Away on Crawfish Etouffee – Louisiana

Yes, it’s true. At least one state has an official state crustacean. The Louisiana legislature bestowed this honor to the crawfish in 1983. Crawfish — also called mudbugs, crayfish or crawdads — look like

Crawfish Etouffee - Louisiana

mini lobsters but are the freshwater version. While crawfish are caught in the wild – with a season that runs from roughly December through June – Louisiana also has an established farming industry that provides more than 90 percent of the domestic supply.

If you’ve ever dined on crawfish, you know that its delicate, lobster-like tail meat is perfect in soups, stews, dips and the etouffee (French for “smothered”) recipe you see below. Keep in mind that if you’re buying whole crawfish rather than just the tails, your yield of meat is about 15 percent. Meaning, you’ll have to buy about 6 pounds to get 1 pound of meat. If you can’t find crawfish, you can substitute shrimp or even crab, and if you like it spicy, just up the amount of cayenne.

The Louisiana Crawfish Festival takes place March 26-29, 2015, in Chalmette.

Crawfish Etouffee

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Recipe courtesy of www.cajundaughters.com, used with permission.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound peeled crawfish tails
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped fine
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • 1/2 small bell pepper, chopped fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion tops
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 cup water

Instructions

Season tails with salt and pepper and set aside. Make roux with butter and flour, cook over medium heat until light brown. Add celery, onion, bell pepper and garlic. Cook until the onion becomes translucent. Add tails and sauté about 20 minutes. Add water and green onions and bring to a boil. Cook over low heat about 5 minutes. Add parsley and cook 5 more minutes. Season to taste. Serve over hot rice.