Feb 23, 2009

The Book: Fat Tuesday

You remember my little book project, right? Well, the next occasion on the calendar is Fat Tuesday - the last day of Mardi Gras. Here's an easy dinner party menu with 'Big Easy' flavor...

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FAT TUESDAY
Serves 6-8 

The Menu:
Hurricane Cocktails
Hot Cajun Nuts
Jambalaya
Confetti Orange Salad
Soft French Bread
Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding w/ Bourbon St. Whipped Cream

Decorate:
Head to the dollar store for strands of colorful, cheap plastic beads and feathered masks. Hang them from the chandelier, over the backs of chairs or string them across doorways.

Play:
Zydeco music or some New Orleans Jazz

Hurricane Cocktails
Makes 2 cocktails

4 oz. Rum
1 oz. Grenadine
1 oz. sweetened lime juice
1 tea sugar
Orange juice
Fresh orange slices

Mix all ingredients except orange juice and stir well to dissolve sugar. Fill 2 tall (8oz.) glasses with ice, add 3 oz. of mixture to each glass, fill to top with orange juice, stir and garnish with orange slice.

NOTE: Traditionally both light & dark rums are used for Hurricanes, use equal parts of each if you want but sticking to one type will be easier on your liquor budget.

Hot Cajun Nuts
Serves 6-8 as a pre-dinner nosh

2 cups raw cashews, almonds or peanuts
2 TB Creole seasoning
1 TB peanut or vegetable oil
2 tea butter
salt & pepper (optional)

Heat oil & butter in a medium sauté pan over med heat. Add the nuts and cook, stirring often until they begin to toast, about 4 mins.

Sprinkle spice mixture over nuts and toss to coat. Continue cooking until nuts turn brown, about 4 mins. Lower heat and cook, stirring, until nuts are dry. Be careful not to burn the nuts!

Remove from heat, spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt & pepper if using. Cool completely and store in a tightly covered container for up to 2 weeks.

Jambalaya
1 pound smoked or Andouille sausage, sliced 1/4” thick
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 TB Creole seasoning
2 TB olive oil
1 package chopped ham
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 scallions, chopped, white & green parts separated
Small onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 large can chopped tomatoes
4 14 oz. Cans chicken broth
16 oz. Bag uncooked long-grain rice
1 tea hot sauce or ground red pepper to taste
salt & pepper

In a bowl, combine chicken and Creole seasoning, toss to coat and let sit. Heat large stock pot over medium-high heat, add sausage and cook until it starts to brown and render some fat. Remove sausage from pot and set aside. Add 1 TB olive oil and chicken to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is browned and not quite cooked through. Remove chicken from pot and set aside.

Add remaining TB olive oil to pot. Add ham, garlic, white scallions, onion, pepper and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until ham is cooked and onions are translucent, about 10 mins. Add tomatoes and broth, stir well. Add rice and hot sauce. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered for 10 mins. Add sausage and chicken, cook until rice is tender and meats are fully done, about 10-15 mins, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt, pepper and additional Creole seasoning if needed. Garrnish with reserved green scallions.

NOTE: If you don’t mind the extra expense small, raw, peeled shrimp can be added with the sausage and chicken for the last 15 mins of cooking time.

Confetti Orange Salad
7 oranges, rind removed
olive oil
1 handful parsley, chopped
crushed red pepper
6 cups arugula or baby spinach

Slice orange horizontally to form rounds. Remove seeds if needed. Arrange greens on a large serving platter, lay oranges on top, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with parsley and red pepper.

Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding (w/ Bourbon St. Whipped Cream)
Serves 6-8 with leftovers for breakfast

5 butter croissants, 1-2 days old
2 cups half-and-half
2 cups heavy cream
pinch of salt
4 oz. good semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 cups whipped cream or cream topping
1 oz. bourbon
Cinnamon

Cut the croissants into 1” pieces, place in an ovenproof baking dish in an even layer. In a medium saucepan, heat the half-and-half, cream and salt over medium high heat. Stir occasionally to make sure mixture doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom of the pot. Be sure not to let cream mixture boil, it will scald very easily. When mixture reaches a simmer, remove from heat and add chocolate, stirring to dissolve.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs and sugar together. Keep stirring and gradually add the cream mixture, pouring slowly. Pour over croissant pieces and toss well to coat. Let sit for 15 mins to allow mixture to be absorbed. Heat oven to 350F.

Place the baking dish in a larger roasting pan and fill larger pan halfway with water to create a water bath. Bake until set, about 40-45 mins.

Mix whipped cream, bourbon and cinnamon to taste, spoon over bowls of warm bread pudding and serve.


1 comment:

Chez US said...

Single Girl .... your Fat Tuesday menu sounds fantastic!!! I always forget about Fat Tuesday, it flies by us!

Have fun!