New Orleans Red Beans and Rice

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In New Orleans, you come out of the womb instinctually knowing how to cook red beans and rice. Nobody knows exactly when the dish was born: “Red beans have been ingrained in the New Orleans landscape for about 200 years,”

Ingredients

1 pound dried red beans

7 cups water

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 pound andouille sausage, sliced

3 tablespoons Creole seasoning

Hot cooked rice

Garnish: sliced green onions

Preparation

Place first 8 ingredients in a 4-quart slow cooker.

Cook, covered, at HIGH 7 hours or until beans are tender. Serve with hot cooked rice. Garnish, if desired

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Chicken-Andouille Gumbo

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Ingredients

1 1/2 gallons water

1 (4-pound) chicken, cut up

5 bay leaves

5 parsley sprigs

3 whole garlic cloves

1 pound andouille or smoked sausage, diced

2 medium onions, chopped

1 large green bell pepper, chopped

1 large celery rib, chopped

3 tablespoons minced garlic

4 chicken bouillon cubes

1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon ground red pepper

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon filé powder

Hot cooked rice

Directions 

Bring first 5 ingredients to a boil in a large stockpot; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour. Remove chicken, reserving broth. Skin, bone, and coarsely chop chicken; set aside. Pour broth through a wire-mesh strainer into a large bowl, discarding solids. Measure 1 gallon broth, and return to stockpot. Add sausage and next 5 ingredients; simmer, stirring occasionally, 1 hour.

Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat; gradually whisk in flour, and cook, whisking constantly, until flour is a dark caramel color (about 20 minutes). Stir into sausage mixture, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 1 hour. Stir in chicken, salt, and red and black pepper; simmer, stirring occasionally, 45 minutes. Skim off fat.

Stir in green onions and parsley; simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in filé powder. Serve over hot cooked rice with hot sauce, if desired.

King Cake

King Cake 2 King Cakes

Ingredients

1 package active dry yeast

½ cup warm water (110-115 degrees F)

½ cup warm milk (110 to 115 degrees F)

1/3 cup shortening

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

1 egg

4-4 ½ cups all purpose flour

2 cans 12 ½ ounces each of almond cake and pastry filling

Glaze

3 cups confectioner’s sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

3 to 4 tbsp milk

Purple, green and gold colored sugar

Directions

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk, shortening, sugar, salt, egg and 2 cups flour. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Roll one portion into a 16-in. x 10-in. rectangle. Spread almond filling to within 1/2 in. of edges. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seam to seal. Place seam side down on a greased baking sheet; pinch ends together to form a ring. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. For glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and enough water to achieve desired consistency. Spread over cooled cakes. Sprinkle with colored sugars. Makes 2 cakes.

The History of King Cakes

King Cake

Today in New Orleans, the King Cake is an oval-shaped braided cake similar to a coffee cake which has cinnamon within the braids and is decorated with icing and sugar the colors of gold (God’s power), green (faith in Christ), and purple (Justice of God) – and contains a tiny plastic baby symbolic of the Baby Jesus usually baked within but sometimes placed within the cake after it has been baked.

Religious tradition is bound to the King Cake. Thus, it is not surprising that the origin of the modern King Cake can be traced back to the Middle Ages, when popular devotion during Christmas not only centered on Jesus Christ, but, also included an interest in the “Three Wise Men,” or “kings,” who had followed a star leading them to pay homage to the Christ Child. The “Epiphany,” a Christian festival held on January 6th honors the “Three Wise Men” for having sought the worlds’ Savior. It is also referred to as “Twelfth Night” since it arrives 12 days after Christmas. As such, the English definition of the term “epiphany” is “a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way.” The “Three Wise Men” are considered “wise” because they sought the Savior!

The History of Mardi Gras

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The celebration of Mardi Gras came to North America from France where it had been celebrated since the Middle Ages. In 1699, French explorer Iberville and his men explored the Mississippi River from the Gulf of Mexico. On a spot 60 miles south of the present location of New Orleans, they set up camp on the river’s West Bank. Knowing that the day, March 3, was being celebrated as a major holiday in Paris, they christened the site Point du Mardi Gras.

In the early 19th Century, the public celebration of Mardi Gras consisted mainly of maskers on foot, in carriages and on horseback. In 1837, a costumed group of revelers walked in the first documented “parade”, but the violent behavior of maskers during the next two decades caused the press to call for an end to Mardi Gras. Fortunately, six New Orleanians who were former members of the Cowbellians, a group that presented New Years Eve parades in Mobile, Al, saved the New Orleans Mardi Gras by forming the Comus organization in 1857. The men beautified the celebration and proved that it could be enjoyed in a safe manner. Comus coined the word “Krewe” and established several Mardi Gras traditions by forming a secret Carnival society, choosing a mythological namesake, presenting a themed parade with floats and costumed maskers, and staging a tableau ball following its parade.

Carnival’s growth has continued throughout the years with the birth and death of many parading Krewes. More than one dozen clubs have featured celebrities in their parades. Doubloons lost some of their luster as several Krewes stopped minting them. Krewe-emblemed throws of every imaginable variety gained popularity, however, with imprinted cups leading the pack. Perhaps the greatest change in Mardi Gras has been the tremendous increase in tourism during the Carnival season. Conventions which once had avoided New Orleans at Mardi Gras, used the celebration as a reason to assemble here. International media attention in focused on Mardi Gras, with camera crews from Japan, Europe and Latin America showcasing the festivities. Mardi Gras has become a year-round industry as more off season conventions experienced the joys of Carnival when they were treated to mini-parades and repeat balls held in the city’s convention facilities.

Moon Pies Homemade

MoonPies Homemade

Ingredients

For the cookie dough:

6 ounces unsalted butter

¼ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

¼ cup cane syrup

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

1½ cups all-purpose flour

1¼ cups (about 1 sleeve) graham cracker crumbs, ground fine

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoon whole milk

For the marshmallow center:

1 (12 ounce) container marshmallow crème

For the chocolate Coating:

1 (16 ounces) bag bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or canola oil

Directions

In a medium mixing bowl, cream butter, brown sugar, syrup, and vanilla until mixture is fluffy, about 1 minute.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, graham cracker crumbs, kosher salt, baking powder, baking soda, and ground cinnamon.

With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until dry ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. In a slow, steady stream, add the milk. Continue to mix until the dough comes together and leave the side of the bowl.

Turn dough out onto a large sheet of plastic wrap. Flatten with the palm of your hand. Wrap the edges of the plastic wrap around the dough. Refrigerate for up to1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Turn chilled dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. You may need to let the dough sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes to make it easier to work with. Roll the dough until it is ¼ inch thick. Cut out cookies using a 3-inch round cookie cutter. Place cookies on a prepared cookie sheet.

Bake cookies 10-12 minutes. They will still be soft when you remove them from the oven. Allow cookies to cool 10-15 minutes until you can carefully transfer them to a cooling rack. Allow cookies to cool completely before beginning the next step.

Once your cookies have cooled, spoon approximately ¼ cup of marshmallow crème into the center of 12 cookies. Top marshmallow with a second cookie, then gently press down until the marshmallow just touches the edge. Place sandwiches on a cookie sheet and chill for at least 15 minutes.

In the meantime, melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl set over a small pan of boiling water. Once the chocolate has melted, remove pan from the heat and allow the chocolate to cool until it is still warm to the touch, but not longer hot. Slowly whisk in the oil.

Using two forks, gently place once sandwich cookie into the warm chocolate. Turn until thoroughly coated. Then remove cookies to a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Let cookies stand until chocolate shell has completely hardened.