On February 21, people will flood the streets in New Orleans. While you may not be able to make the trip to New Orleans, you can bring the flavor of New Orleans and Mardi Gras to you by making three classics: Mini Muffuletta Sandwiches, Shrimp Etouffee, and Beignets.
Mini Muffuletta Sandwiches
While Mardi Gras has a rich Cajun and French history, many Italian immigrants came to the Big Easy bringing their own traditions and cuisine as well. You can homage to that rich culture by making these easy and delicious Mini Muffuletta sandwiches.
- 2 cups Italian olive salad
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil (chopped)
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red peppers
- 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
- 8 ounces each of capocollo, deli ham, provolone cheese, dry salami, and mozzarella cheese (all sliced)
- 8 sesame hamburger buns
- 16 pimento-stuffed olives (halved crosswise)
- Wooden toothpicks
Using a food processor, pulse the olive salad, basil, vinegar, and red pepper. However, be sure they’re chopped well. Now, place two tablespoons of the mixture on the bottom bun. Then, add one slice of the different meats and cheeses. Next, put another two tablespoons of the salad mixture on top. When done, add the bun top. To make them easier to grab, cut the sandwiches in quarters. After that, secure them with toothpicks run through an olive half.
Why should you make this classic Louisiana dish? Well, it will certainly put you in the Mardi Gras spirit with just one bite.
First, you’ll need these ingredients for the shrimp stock:
- Shells from 2 pounds of fresh shrimp
- 1/2 large onion (chopped)
- 2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
- 1 celery rib (chopped)
- 5 bay leaves
- Top and bottom portions of 1 green pepper
Second, here are the ingredients required for the Etouffee:
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 large celery rib (chopped)
- 1/4 heaping cup of all-purpose flour
- 1 large green pepper (chopped)
- 2 jalapeno peppers (chopped)
- 4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
- 3 green onions (chopped)
- 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
- Salt (to taste)
- 1 pint of shrimp stock (you can also use store-bought fish stock or clam juice)
- Hot sauce
Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat for about two minutes. Next, stir in the flour. However, be sure to stir well to eliminate any clumps. Then, cook this for 10 minutes while stirring often. Once it turns brown, you’ll move on to the next step. Now, you’ll add all of the chopped vegetables. After stirring, cook on medium heat for roughly four minutes. Again, stir often. Then, add the garlic and cook for two minutes. Slowly pour the shrimp stock into the saucepan. Also, for the best results, add just a little at a time. Follow that by stirring to incorporate it. In addition, you’ll notice that the mixture thickens. However, it’ll loosen up as you stir. Now, add the paprika, celery seed, and Cajun seasoning. Again, mix well and then add the salt.
Cover the saucepan and continue cooking but on low heat for 10 minutes. Put the Shrimp Etouffee into individual serving bowls. Afterward, add green onions and a dash of hot sauce on top. Also, you can add a little more shrimp stock to achieve the right consistency. The correct thickness of Shrimp Etouffee resembles pancake syrup. Also, in keeping with New Orleans tradition, serve it with white rice.
There’s no better way to end your meals than with sweet, puffy Beignets.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (plus about 1/4 cup for dusting)
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup of whole milk (warm)
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar (divided)
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons butter (melted)
- 1 ½ to 2 quarts of vegetable oil (for deep frying)
- 3 cups powdered sugar
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First, you’ll need a standing mixture that has a large bowl. Second, you’ll use both a paddle attachment and a dough hook. Put the powdered sugar in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. Now, put three cups of flour, salt, and two tablespoons of granulated in the bowl. In a four-cup glass measuring cup, add the warm milk (100 degrees Fahrenheit), the last tablespoon of granulated sugar, and the yeast. Stir it well. Then, let it sit for about five minutes until the surface begins to look foamy. At that point, beat in the egg. Afterward, add all the mixture to the ingredients in the mixing bowl. On low to medium speed, blend everything for about one minute until you end up with wet dough.
Exchange the paddle attachment with a dough hook. Next, add the melted butter. Again, incorporate it into the dough on low to medium speed. Usually, that takes one minute. Now, turn the speed of the mixture up to medium-high. That way, the hook can knead the dough. Run the mixer for six minutes. At that point, it’ll become tacky yet manageable when touched. After dusting your hands with flour, shape the dough into a ball. When done, transfer it to a large, greased bowl. Cover it with plastic and let it rise for one to two hours or until it’s doubled in size.
Roughly ten minutes before the dough’s finished rising, fill a four-quart deep fryer or heavy Dutch oven with vegetable oil. While the oil heats up, place the risen dough onto a floured surface. Next, roll the dough into a rectangular shape about 10 by 14 inches and one-quarter inch thick. Cut it into six smaller rectangular pieces. Carefully use a slotted spoon to lower the pieces into the oil after it’s reached 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook the Beignets for one to two minutes or until they’re golden brown.
Remove the cooked Beignets and let them sit for just a few seconds so that some of the oil drains. Then, roll them in the powdered sugar until they’re completely covered. Finally, you can enjoy them. You can always eat Beignets when they’re cold. However, they taste best when still hot. Either way, they’ll satisfy your sweet craving.
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