Mardi Gras Recipes: Cajun Style Meals, Snacks, Drinks and More

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There are many traditional recipies that come from New Orleans that are easy and delicious. Cajun food is an interesting cultural food. It originates from the French immigrants from Canada that were relocated to New Orleans area. Cajun food was born from necessity and the changing of traditional French dishes to adopt the local available foods. The West African slaves gave the culinary dishes there lasting flavor and ingenuity. Today many of these dishes are served and enjoyed worldwide. Many people also partake in Cajun food during Mardi Gras.

Gumbo is a traditional favorite of New Orleans. Gumbo originated when French cooking soup bases met West African Slaves (okra).

To make a classic shrimp and okra gumbo:

Ingredients-

3 tablespoons of vegetable oil,

1 large chopped onion,

3 tablespoons of flour,

5 cloves of garlic chopped,

1 cup celery chopped,

1 can of tomato sauce,

1 cup of green pepper chopped,

1 can of tomatoes (Rotel tomatoes are usually preferred in classic New Orleans cuisine because of the spicy taste they have) ,

1 pound of sliced okra,

2 pounds of shrimp,

2-3 cups of water. (For seafood gumbo add to above recipe: 1 small can of crabmeat or 3 jumbo crabs, 1 jar of oysters).

Instructions-

Slowly stir the flour into a heated oil skillet. Stir until the flour is brown. Add onion, celery, garlic and pepper until onion is clear. Add tomatoes and fried okra. Add water and boil stirring occasionally. Add bay leaf and shrimp (and other seafood) cooking another 30 mins, adding seasonings (salt, pepper, sugar) to taste. Serve over boiled or steamed rice.

Another classic New Orleans favorite is Jambalaya. The dish is a New World version of the Old World dish paella. A Cajun version was adopted after White French Creoles were absorbed into the Cajun population after their fall of power from the Civil War.

To make Jambalaya:

Ingredients-

2 lbs of italian sausage,

3 packs frozen chopped celery or bell pepper, garlic powder,

1-2 cans (Rotel) tomatoes,

1 can vegetable broth/chicken broth,

1-3 cups of desired meat (shrimp, turkey, crawfish, chicken, etc.),

2-4 cups of rice.

Instructions-

Saute sausage in large pan. Add frozen vegetables to sausage and add garlic powder to taste. Add tomatoes and broth. Cover and simmer for a few minutes. Add 1-3 cups of meat and simmer another 5 mins. Add rice, then cook on high for 10-15 mins. Let cool and serve!

A delicious side dish to Jambalaya or Gumbo would be Red Beans and Rice New Orleans Style.

To make Red Beans and Rice New Orleans Style:

Ingredients-

4 cans of kidney beans,

2 medium onions chopped,

1 cup celery chopped,

6 green onions chopped,

1 lb of sausage sliced,

3 gloves of garlic minced,

seasonings to taste (salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, etc).

Instructions-

Boil beans over high heat. Stir well. Add sausage, onions, garlic and seasoning. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours until beans are tender. Serve over rice.

Cajun meatloaf is a simple yet delicious recipe that has the Cajun New Orleans flavor.

To make Cajun Meatloaf:

Ingredients-

2 whole bay leafs,

1 tablespoon salt,

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper,

1 teaspoon black pepper,

1/2 teaspoon cumin,

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg,

4 tablespoons of butter,

1 cup celery chopped,

1/2 cup bell pepper chopped,

1/4 cup chopped green onions,

1/2 teaspoon of garlic minced,

1 tablespoon of tabasco or hot sauce,

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce,

1/2 cup milk, 2 lbs ground beef,

1/2 lb of ground pork,

2 eggs,

1 cup bread crumbs.

Instructions-

Combine seasonings in bowl and set aside. Melt butter in medium saucepan add onions, celery, bell pepper, green onions, garlic, tabasco,Worcestershire sauce and seasonings bowl. Saute until it starts sticking to pan, 6 mins stirring well. Stir in milk and 1/2 cup catsup. Continue cooking for 2 mins. Place beef and pork in ungreased 13 inch baking pan. Add eggs, cooked vegeatble mixture, bay leaves and bread crumbs. Cook on 400 for about 45 mins, not overcooking.

A great addition to any New Orleans style meal is Bread Pudding. Bread Pudding is a delicious New Orleans treat that only takes less than an hour to create.

To make Bread Pudding:

Ingredients-

7 slices of bread broken up into pieces,

1 stick butter,

8 eggs,

1 1/2 cups sugar,

1 can evaporated milk,

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

Instructions-

Mix all ingredients into a large bowl. Preheat Oven to 350. Pour contents in pan, place in oven and do not exceed an hour for baking.

To make the sauce for Bread Pudding:

Ingredients- 1 box powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon rum flavoring, 1 1/2 stick melted butter. Milk (to make sauce thin). Mix and add over Bread Pudding.

Another New Orleans style food that is a desert is Strawberry Beignets.

To make Strawberry Beignets:

Ingredients-

1 cup water,

1 cup milk,

1 egg beaten,

2 tablespoons of baking powder,

3 cups of all purpose flour,

1 teaspoon salt,

2 teaspoon sugar, powdered sugar,

5 qts vegetable oil,

1/2 cup of sugar,

3 pints of strawberries.

Instructions-

In a bowl mix water and beaten egg. In another bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add dry and wet ingredients, stirring well. Heat oven to 350. Drop spoonfuls of batter onto cookie sheet. Turn over after 4 mins. Puree strawberries and sugar. Sprinkle powdered sugar on beignets. Add strawberry mix as topping.

A great appetizer for your Cajun feast would be a simple but delicious crab dip.

To make Crab Dip:

Ingredients-

1/2 lb cooked flaked crab,

1 8 oz package cream cheese,

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice,

1/4 cup sour cream,

1/8 teaspoon cayenne,

1/4 teaspoon dill weed,

1/4 cup minced scallions,

1/4 cup minced green pepper,

1 tablespoon milk.

Combine all ingredients in food processor (or blender) and chill before serving with raw vegetables or crackers.

The perfect addition to any of these foods would be a good drink. By drink I mean alcoholic, after all it is Marti Gras that you are celebrating. A classic New Orleans favorite (according to gumbopages.com) is the Sazerac cocktail. The drink was traditionally made with absinthe, which is illegal in the United States. How to make a sazarac- Place ice in glass, let chill. Place a lump of sugar in another glass. Moisten sugar with a few drops of water and crush with a spoon. Add the ice and whisky and dash with absinth substitute (Assent, Pernod as an example). Lastly twist a lemon peel over the mixture WITHOUT dropping it in to the glass.

Another great drink that hails from New Orleans is the Hurricane. While the amount of booze may be modified to your tastes, as recommended, the drink contains, 1.5 oz light rum, 1.5 oz dark rum, 1 oz orange juice, 1 oz fresh lime juice, 1/4 cup passion fruit juice, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon grenadine, cherries with stems and orange slices as a garnish, as well as ice cubes.

In addition to these recipes I felt it necessary to include those who choose not to eat meat as well. An important part of cooking for a vegetarian or vegan that wants to enjoy New Orleans style food is a roux. You need a good base before you can try to make a gumbo or jambalaya.

To make a Vegan Roux:

According to Vegetarian Journal “For the traditional version, melt vegan margarine or heat oil in a heavy pan over low to medium heat. Whisk in an equal amount of the flour until the mixture is smooth. Whisk constantly so that it does not burn, but allow the mixture to bubble slowly. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until it is pale golden in appearance. This is a white roux, and it will have lost some of its raw flour taste.The longer you cook the roux, the more flavor it will develop. Blond roux is slightly darker and thinner in texture than a white roux. It cooks for approximately 6 minutes.”

You can add this base to more traditional New Orleans style dishes substituting meat for larger servings of vegetables or fake meat products.

Also, to make a good vegan seasoning, combine cayenne, cumin and paprika for that spicy taste.

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