Sunday, March 6, 2011

Menu, Plans and Beignets For Mardi Gras

Mask and beads are part of Mardi Gras flair, photo by rfontes
One day I'm going to get to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, but it won't be this week, or this year. No, this time like the 40-ish years before it, I'll stay at home and miss the ball. I must have been Cajun in another life (if there is such thing) because I find myself naturally hungry for sensuous spicy food in enormous portions.

I am not alone, it's easy to get stirred by all the colorful pageantry, the swing of the music and intoxicating atmosphere of the annual "Fat Tuesday" celebration. Mardi Gras, French for "Fat Tuesday" is the traditional pre-Lent kick off that translates to "bawdy fun" in many languages. The magical medley of glitz and indulgence makes Mardi Gras a popular party theme. If nothing else, a great excuse to blow off the last day's of winter and entertain in a style that never goes out of style.

I dusted off a few pictures I thought I would share along with the menu of a Mardi Gras celebration I catered a few years ago. Maybe it will inspire you to have your own fling, if not this year...soon!

Salmon platter with a Cajun spice crust, crab claws and shrimp, photo by rfontes

menu for a mardi gras

bayou bounty seafood display
shrimp, crab claws, clams, mussels, and poached salmon

rajun cajun cookout
blackened chicken breast 
spicy grilled louisiana sausages
french quarters jambalaya 

dixie land salad with honey mustard vinaigrette
mardi gras fruits with bourbon sauce
french baguettes 

crepes with drunken bananas
grand mariner spiked strawberries
fresh beignets and coffee
Colorful buffet for a festive party, photo by rfontes

Guest tables in fun colors with beads and glittery centerpieces, photo by rfontes

Beignet is cajun french for "French Donut". Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans popularized this tasty, classic Cajun treat.

1 ½ cup water
¼ ounce yeast, 1-package
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup evaporated milk
7 cup flour
¼ cup shortening
oil, for deep frying
powdered sugar, garnish

Put the warm water into a large bowl, then sprinkle in dry yeast and stir until dissolved. Add sugar, salt, eggs and evaporated milk.
gradually stir in 4 cups of the flour and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth and thoroughly blended. Beat in the shortening and add the remaining flour. about 1/3 cup at a time, beating it in with a spoon until it becomes too stiff to stir, then working in the rest with your fingers. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.
Roll the dough out on a floured board to a thickness of 1/8 inch in , then cut it into rectangles 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches with a sharp knife. Preheat oil in deep fryer to 360 degrees. Fry the beignets about 3 or 4 at a time until they are puffed out golden brown on both sides (about 2 to 3 minutes per batch). Turn them over in the oil once or twice to get them evenly brown, since the rise to the surface of the oil as soon as they begin to pff out.
Drain on paper towels and put the platter in a 200 degree oven to keep warm.
Sprinkle the beignets heavily with powdered sugar and serve hot.


chow and chatter said...

oh wow always enjoy seeing what you cater for your such a talent

~ Chef Louise said...

i remember this house, great parties there! if only all clients could be this much fun. love the menu, it reads so creative and fun... pillow-y beignets with coffee, that sounds good ...

She's Cookin' said...

Looks like a fun party for sure! Love the Bayou Bounty seafood display - and powdered beignets, mmmm.

Kim said...

GORGEOUS. I think the "colors" of New Orleans and Mardi Gras are my favorite. So vibrant!!!

One of these days... I'll make it there. In the meantime, homemade beignets would be lovely. :-)