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Ellen’s Kitchen & Garden

Traditional NOLA fare celebrating Mardi Gras

Posted Tuesday,
February 17, 2015
0 ·
Photos/Ellen Fox Emerson
This Creole version of Jambalaya includes chicken, sausage and shrimp.
Key Lime with a graham cracker crust and whipped cream topping.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Today is Mardi Gras — “Fat Tuesday” in English — the last feast day before 40 days of abstinence during Lent.

New Orleans is famous for Mardi Gras. NOLA celebrates for days with parades, dancing in the streets, costumes, masks, beads and lots of food and drink.

In the spirit of Mardi Gras, here are recipes for the Hurricane cocktail, Jambalaya and Key Lime Pie.

Credited to Pat O’Brien’s bar in the 1940s, The Hurricane — concocted of rums, passion fruit juice, grenadine and simple syrup — is a fun drink and a mainstay in the French Quarter.

New Orleans gives us Creole or Cajun food. A simple comparison: Creole food uses tomatoes, whereas Cajun food does not.

Creole is considered “city food” because of the access a wider variety of ingredients, whereas Cajun is “country food.”

The common thread for both styles is “the holy trinity” of cuisine or mirepoix: onions, bell peppers and celery.

Jambalaya can be made either way and is a relatively easy. This recipe is a Creole dish. It calls for chicken, sausage and shrimp.

It requires an extra large skillet or a large Dutch oven. The proportions can vary with personal preferences, using more seafood or more chicken. The only ingredient to be careful with would be the rice. Too much or too little liquid (as well as over-cooking) might affect the outcome.

My Key Lime Pie is relatively easy and can be made just a few hours in advance.

Hurricane Cocktail
Serves 4 to 8

8 ounces of White Rum
8 ounces of Dark Rum
4 ounces of limejuice
4 ounce of orange juice
8 ounces of Mango juice
2 ounces of simple syrup (one part sugar, one part water)
2 ounces of grenadine

In a pitcher add all of the ingredients with ice. Shake and strain into a large Hurricane glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a slice of orange and a cherry.

Serves 6 to 8

¼ cup of olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
3 boned and skinned chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning (more or less to your taste)
1 pound of Aidells Cajun Style Andouille Sausage, sliced diagonally in 1” pieces
1 can of diced tomatoes (hot RoTel tomatoes will add a kick to it)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon of thyme
2 cups of rice
4 cups of chicken broth
1 pound of raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pan (maybe 16 inches in diameter) or Dutch oven, heat the oil. Add the onions, celery and green pepper and cook until the onions are almost translucent. Add the garlic (watching closely so as not to burn, thus ruining the dish) and then the chicken. Brown the chicken on all sides and season with Old Bay. Add the sausage and cook long enough to heat up (generally this sausage is precooked). Should you use a raw sausage, cook it with the chicken.

At this point add the tomatoes, herbs and rice and blend together. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Once this is at a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover with a lid or aluminum foil. You’ll cook this for about 45 minutes, checking and stirring in 15-minute increments.

Uncover the pot and pull the rice and chicken mixture back to the sides of the pan to create space to cook the shrimp and cook for two minutes. The shrimp will turn pink. Stir all of the ingredients together and there you are – Jambalaya.

I would serve this with a nice green salad, a crusty loaf of bread and some hot sauce, such as Texas Pete or Tabasco.

Key Lime Pie

9-inch graham cracker crust
½ cup of fresh lime juice or Nellie & Joe's Key West Lime Juice
14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks (save the whites for a meringue)
whipped cream

Graham Cracker Crust

9-inch pie plate
1-½ packages of graham crackers
½ cup of melted butter
¼ cup of sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a food processor with a metal blade, crush the graham crackers. Add the sugar and blend; then add the butter. Once everything is blended, pour into a greased pie plate and gently (very gently), tap the crumbs into place. (If you press too hard the shell will stick to the plate and make it almost impossible to serve.)

In a mixing bowl add the juice and the condensed milk. Blend well and then add the egg yolks one at a time. Once all of the ingredients are blended, pour into your pie shell and bake for 15 minutes. After the pie has baked, let it cool and the put it in the refrigerator to chill for a couple of hours.

Cover with fresh whipped cream and decorate with a thin slice of lime.

For the topping I use freshly whipped cream. That is probably the secret to my pie and it keeps well.

Whipped Cream

1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of sugar

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl that has been chilled in the freezer and beat on high speed until peaks form in the cream. It only takes minutes to whip; be careful not to over whip because it will turn to butter.

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