Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!

See? Those four semesters of French really paid off. Happy Mardi Gras everyone! For those folks about to be miserable for the next 40 days - I salute you! Then there's people like me who gave up giving things up for Lent for Lent and use Mardi Gras as an excuse to eat Cajun food and drink.

I would love to be in New Orleans right now, mostly because it's warm. But also for the food, parade (BEADS! BEADS!), and the spectacle. Oh, to be on a balcony or stuffed in a doorway taking random photos of crazy drunk people. But that's not really what Mardi Gras is all about...it's the FOOD!

So, because I'm putting the "fat" in Fat Tuesday I'm giving you a couple recipes to enjoy. I was going to put a recipe for King Cake on here, but you're not supposed to eat it after Mardi Gras, so I figured today's a little late. So instead, you get two original recipes! Yes, I made them up (well, adapted, it's not like they're something never before seen), so you can blame me if they suck. I think they're ok, I wasn't poisoned or anything.

The first recipe originated because I love po' boys. They're portable meals - hearty, satisfying, and on crusty French bread. But, living in the land-locked state of Indiana, it's a little harder to get your hands on coastal seafood, which is what makes a Louisiana po' boy distinctive. Traditionally, these sandwiches are filled with fried shrimp or oysters, but you also see a lot of soft shell crab, crawfish, catfish, creole hot sausage, and roast beef in po' boys. However, mine is with baked shrimp, because the rest of these ingredients are awfully hard to find in Lafayette, Indiana. Not to mention expensive when you find them. So I make do until my blog becomes famous and I can afford to have fresh seafood shipped to me. *snorts* I baked the shrimp instead of breading and frying them or using breaded shrimp because it's a little bit lighter. This is a calorie sink, let's face it. Just wait until you get to the cupcakes. So, here is my Indiana version of a Louisiana po' boy:

Hoosier Po-Boy
Makes 4 large sandwiches

1/2 c. olive oil
2 tbsp. cajun seasoning
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. soy sauce
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 lb. shrimp, uncooked, shelled and deveined (let’s admit it, I use frozen. GASP)
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced lengthwise
2 loaves French bread (the crustier the better)
Hot sauce of choice
Mayo or Remoulade
Cheese of choice (Provolone or Monterey Jack I think taste the best)

Combine olive oil, Cajun seasoning, lemon juice, parsley, honey, soy sauce, and cayenne pepper in a 9" x 13" baking dish. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bake until shrimp are cooking through, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

While shrimp is cooking, sauté 1 yellow onion and green pepper in 1 T. oil. When the onions begin to look translucent, add 1 T. tomato paste and 2 T. water. Toss yellow onion and pepper until coated with tomato sauce and sauce is warm. Add in a dash or two of hot sauce to fire up this po’ boy if you wish. I use a little Siriacha. How Asian Fusion of me. Then “dress” your sandwich the way you like: pickles, tomato, lettuce or slaw. If you add the remoulade, I would leave off the cheese.

If you want to take this sandwich over the top, leave out the hot sauce in your peppers and onions and make this spicy remoulade:

Spicy Remoulade Sauce

Adapted from Sunny Anderson (“Cooking for Real,” via FoodNetwork.com)
For the best flavor, make this sauce several hours in advance.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

1 1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup stone-ground mustard (preferably Creole)
1 clove garlic clove, smashed
1 tablespoon pickle juice
1 tablespoon capers
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot paprika
Dash of Frank’s Red Hot hot sauce

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Chill until ready to serve.

**This recipe found on Ezra Pound Cake blog*

Next, a word on King Cake - I don't do it. I have said it before and I'll say it again. I don't do stuff that has to rise. I am entirely too impatient for it. And the few attempts I've made have resulted in dense, miserable failures. So, I give you an alternative to King Cake (but not even closely related) - The Cinnamon Praline Cupcake (with Bourbon Frosting...awww yeah).  Well, I tried to recreate some of the flavors in the King Cake with the cinnamon and the pecans, but that's as close as it gets:

Cinnamon-Praline Cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ t. baking powder
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/8 t. salt
½ cup milk (at least 2%, but whole is better)
4 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
¾ cup plus 2 T. sugar
½ t. vanilla extract
¾ cup praline pecans, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 12-cup cupcake pan with paper liners. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. Stir milk and butter in a small saucepan over low heat just until butter melts; set aside.

Beat eggs and sugar until thick enough for the batter to fall in a heavy ribbon when the beater is lifted, about 5 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Add the flour mixture; beat just until blended. Beat in the milk-butter mixture just until blended. Add the pecans. Divide batter evenly between cupcake liners. Bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 16-18 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Bourbon Buttercream Frosting

3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup butter
2 T. bourbon
1-2 T. whipping cream or milk

Mix together sugar and butter until blended, then increase speed on mixer and beat for 3 minutes. Add bourbon and 1 T of cream and beat on medium speed for another minute, adding more cream to reach desire consistency. **NOTE: Because you don’t cook the icing, the bourbon still contains the alcohol** If you don’t want to use real bourbon, use Cook's Bourbon Extract.

If desired, sprinkle cupcakes with green, purple, and yellow tinted sugar for a nod to a Mardi Gras King Cake.

Well, that's about it. I hope you enjoy the rest of your Mardi Gras, and not just today, but always...LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL!!

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