Mardi Gras 2013

I’m not from New Orleans nor do I observe Lent, but, ANY excuse for me to cook a themed meal & I am all over it! I cooked our Mardi Gras dinner last night so YOU could read the post today and get some ideas for your own Mardi Gras dinner tonight.

On my menu: Muffaletta Finger Sandwiches, Shrimp Creole and a Mardi Gras Salad with a Creole Vinaigrette
Muffaletta Finger Sandwiches
Recipe comes from a “Cuisine at Home” magazine, with modifications
Serves 8-12 as an appetizer, 4-6 as lunch
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano leaves
  • 1 cup drained Giardiniera vegetables
  • 1 cup chopped green olives with pimentos
  • ¼ lb. each of two to three meats: salami, honey turkey, mortadella, capicola, ham
  • 1 loaf ciabatta, halved lengthwise
  • ~½ lb. sliced provolone or mozzarella
Preheat oven to 400º. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place vinegar, oil, mustard, dried oregano, Giardiniera vegetables and olives in a food processor and pulse until vegetables are minced.
Giardiniera Olive MixtureChop meats and stir into Giardiniera mixture. Place ciabatta halves on baking sheet. Spoon Giardiniera-meat mixture evenly over bread and top with mozzarella slices.
Muffaletta Ready for the OvenBake until cheese melts and meat is hot, 20-25 minutes. Slice each ciabatta half into 6-8 slices. This is fabulous as an appetizer for a party or watching the big game.
Muffaletta Finger Sandwiches
Shrimp Creole
My own recipe
Serves 4
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ medium white onion, diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1¾ cup crushed tomatoes
  • 2 bays leaves
  • 1¾ cup water (1 can’s worth)
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Dash Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash hot sauce – optional
  • 1½-2 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp, tails removed
  • 1 Tbsp. creole seasoning
  • White rice, for serving
  • Flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped – for garnish
  • Scallions, thinly sliced – for garnish
Melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, to make a dark roux (the color of chocolate).
Chocolate Colored RouxAdd onion, celery and bell pepper (the “trinity”); cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Add garlic & cook 1 minute. Add both tomatoes, bay leaves, water, salt & cayenne. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, toss shrimp with creole seasoning in a medium bowl. Add Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce (if using) to tomatoes in pot. Mix to incorporate, then add shrimp. Cook 4-6 minutes (depending on the size of your shrimp), until fully cooked.
Serve over white rice, garnished with parsley and scallions. Pass additional hot sauce at the table.
For a nice presentation, mold rice into ramekins and invert onto large shallow bowls. Spoon shrimp & sauce around rice. Garnish.
Shrimp Creole
Mardi Gras Salad with Creole Vinaigrette
This salad is festive with the Mardi Gras colors of purple, yellow and green
Serves 6
  • 2 romaine hearts, sliced crosswise 1″ thick
  • ¼ small purple cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 pint yellow cherry, pear or grape tomatoes, halved (omit if you can’t find yellow)
  • 1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. creole mustard
  • 2  cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 yellow pepper, cored and cut into 6 rings
Place romaine, cabbage, tomatoes & cucumbers in a large bowl. Whisk vinegar, oil, mustard & garlic together. Taste & season with salt if needed. Toss dressing with salad. Serve salad on chilled plates and top each with a pepper ring (I completely got distracted while cutting my yellow pepper and ended up with strips instead of rings).
Mardi Gras Salad
Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler!
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Healthier Creamy Coleslaw

Years and years ago, I modified a recipe for coleslaw that I found on a jar of mayonnaise. I lightened it up without changing the flavor or consistency of a traditional creamy coleslaw. No one I serve it to can tell that it’s different.

Healthier Creamy Coleslaw

  • cup light mayo
  • cup fat-free plain yogurt
  • 1½ Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 2 16-oz. bags shredded coleslaw
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine mayo, yogurt, vinegar, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add coleslaw mix. Combine well. The mixture will look very dry. Cover and chill at least 4 hours before serving. The coleslaw will shrink and become moist. Add freshly ground pepper to taste and stir. We like to serve with a pepper grinder on the table for diners to add additional pepper to taste.

Healthier Creamy Coleslaw

Healthier Creamy Coleslaw

Notes:

  • I buy my mayo from Whole Foods because their 365 brand does not contain soy oil unlike most national brands.
  • I don’t use Greek yogurt as it’s much thicker & tarter than the regular yogurt.
  • If you prefer to chop your own vegetables instead of buying the preshredded coleslaw, use: 1 medium head cabbage, thinly sliced, ¼ small red cabbage, thinly sliced and 4 medium carrots, shredded.
  • Optional vegetables to add: thinly sliced sweet onions, thinly sliced green bell pepper or thinly sliced celery.

Israeli Salad

This is one of my many, many favorite salads. It is, of course, better in the summer with ripe, homegrown (or farmer’s market) produce. However, even in the winter it is still delicious and balances out the abundance of comfort food at this time of year. I like to serve it for Hanukkah to counter the fried latkes and heavy brisket. It’s also welcome at other Jewish holidays such as Yom Kippur Break the Fast. Whenever you serve it, it will be gobbled up.

Israeli SaladIsraeli Salad

  • 4 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 English cucumber, diced
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced (red, orange or green)
  • 1 large handful Italian parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

Combine tomatoes, cucumber, scallions, peppers and parsley in a bowl. Add lemon juice and olive oil and mix gently. Season generously to taste. Serve at room temperature.