Anyone hosting a Mardi Gras party near a parade route is well aware of the many roles your home takes on: base station, rest stop, hospital, safe house. Likewise, a good Mardi Gras spread is both fuel for the trek and nourishment for exhausted revelers. For this year’s extended carnival season, we’ve brought together a menu that should get you started, then finish you off. Once again, gracious hostess Adele Hunt gathered an eclectic krewe in her kitchen: Green Eyed Gator Gallery owner Shannon Kelley, Shanook, Rotary Downs drummer Zack Smith, Kindest Lines’ Ellen Brittany Terry, and 3 Ton Gallery owner Eric Ulrich. It was a good time that started with cocktail garnishes and ended with swigs straight out of the whiskey bottle. As this dinner party proved, it’s never too early to start conditioning for carnival season.
DAY FOR NIGHT
In film production terminology, “day for night” refers to a set that is lit for night, but shot during the day. The feeling of stepping from sunlight into a darkened room can be disorienting, just like this cocktail.
- 1 oz. bourbon of choice
- 1/2 oz. St. Germain
- 1/2 oz. lemon juice
- 1/2 oz. agave syrup (or simple syrup)
pour ingredients over ice and top off with champagne. Garnish with mint.
BLACKENED SHRIMP AND AVOCADO DIP
With this appetizer on the buffet, you’ll feel like you’re at one of them fancy St. Charles Avenue mansions, hobnobbing with Rex royalty.
- 1 lb. shrimp
- 6 avocados
- 4 oz. goat cheese cilantro
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- Champagne vinegar
- raw garlic
- black pepper
- white pepper
- onion powder
To make the seasoning, mix equal parts of all spices, with 6 tbsp. of cayenne. Melt 1/2 a stick of butter in the seasoning and cook in butter until shrimp curl. Set aside and let cool, then rough chop the shrimp. Add avocados, goat cheese, cilantro, and red onions and mix thoroughly. Add champagne vinegar and any remaining seasoning to taste. Spoon mixture onto endive leaves and serve.
ANYTHING ON CREAM CHEESE
Pretty much. Take a block of cream cheese and pour something saucy on top, like pepper jelly, barbecue sauce, Sriracha, fresh preserves, spicy mustard. Serve with triscuits. A Mardi Gras no- brainer, because it’s cheap, fast, and instantly gratifying.
ERIC’S CRAWFISH BREAD
Eric Ulrich was brave to go up against a Jazz Fest staple. But he fared well, as did all of the grinning guests, who enjoyed this cheesy, spicy cloud of savory softness.
- 1 cup total diced mixture of celery, onions, green pepper, garlic
- 1 lb. Louisiana crawfish tails, cooked
- 2 cups Monterey Jack, grated
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 can diced tomato (4 oz.)
- 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped French bread of choice, halved and scooped
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
Cook your trinity (celery, onions, peppers, etc.) in butter until soft, then add the crawfish and tomato. Sautée until crawfish are done (3 to 5 minutes). In a separate bowl, combine Monterey Jack, Parmesan, mayo and parsley. Add the still-hot crawfish mixture to the cheese/mayo mix, stir together. Spoon the mixture into the French bread halves and top with cheddar. Bake for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven, wrapped in foil. For added efficiency, cut the bread and wrap individual servings in separate foil packages before hitting the parade route.
DOS BEZOS EMPANADAS
Ellen Brittany Terry’s empanadas were another tasty, toasty delight. And a heap of that caramelized onion brandy marmalade on top made these empanadas as royal a treasure as a Zulu coconut. Her recipe includes filling but she says, “Really, use whatever you want.”
- 1 1/2 lb. organic ground beef
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1 poblano pepper, diced minced garlic
- adobo salt
- crushed red pepper
- Valentina Mexican Hot Sauce
Combine ingredients and set aside. If possible, let it marinate overnight.
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tbsp. salt
- 1 cup butter, cold and cut into pea-sized pieces
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup cold water
- 2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
- 2 cups cold water
Mix salt into flour, then hand-blend butter until it reaches an even texture. Beat eggs with vinegar and water. Add to flour-butter mixture and knead dough on floured surface. Set aside for an hour. Roll out the dough and punch out 4” diameter circles. Wet with water around the edges. Cook meat and spice mixture until brown. Let cool slightly, then scoop mixture onto dough, fold and seal edges. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 25 to 35 minutes, turning the pan halfway through.
CARAMELIZED ONION BRANDY MARMALADE
- 2 white onions, julienned
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar raw honey
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar.
- 1/2 cup brandy
Cook all ingredients in sautée pan on medium until the sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Turn burner to low and let caramelize until desired consistency is reached.
SRIRACHA GLAZED CHICKEN
Shannon Kelley’s chicken had everyone appreciatively licking their fingers and wanting to shoot the glaze straight.
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. white vinegar
- 1 1/2 tbsp. Sriracha
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
- 1 1/2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
- 2 lbs. chicken wings, drumsticks or bone in thighs.
- 2 chopped green onions
In a small bowl, whisk soy sauce, vinegar, Sriracha, sugar, ginger, and toasted sesame oil. Pour into a glass or enamel baking dish and toss with chicken. Marinate for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through. In the meantime, pre-heat oven to 475 degrees. Bake until chicken is cooked through and sauce thickens, about 30 minutes. Flip chicken halfway through. Garnish with green onion and serve.
ZACK SMITH’S UNNAMEABLE KOREAN VENISON SAUSAGE MASHUP
We tried. We really, really tried. Bambi brussels… Deergolgi… but no name could quite capture this cup o’ hearty stuff. To truly make this dish right, you’ll have to bag your own deer and have it processed into venison, like Zack Smith’s dad does. In the meantime, just use your sausage of choice. Also, for Korean Sauce, Zack says you gotta hit up photographer and world traveler Tamara Grayson for the good stuff (or throw together some Sriracha and honey). However prepared, this dish will soak up last night’s sins as well as provide essential amino acids and other healthy-sounding things to give you that second and third wind.
- 3 links of jalapeño venison sausage
- 2 bags brussel sprouts
- 1/2 cup Bragg Liquid Aminos
- 1 cup water Tabasco Spicy Salt Tamara’s Korean sauce
- 1 tbsp butter
Steam brussel sprouts in the Bragg ’s and water until they’re firm but not soggy. Cut in half, set aside. In a cast iron skillet, get butter hot and pour Korean sauce to cover the bottom. When hot, lay the brussel sprouts face down and let caramelize. Cook sausage until almost done, dice and add to the brussel sprouts. Simmer for 15 minutes. Serve in a cup with a spoon and a rally beer.
Like a Shanookie DJ set at BUKU, this recipe will have your whole body vibing just right, whether you want it to or not. The “oregano” we used in this recipe was sourced from a local co-op and we suggest you do the same, using nothing but the finest ingredients. Indulge with care, this is one spicy brownie.
- 1 box brownie mix of choice.
- 1/8 to 1/4 oz “oregano”
- 1/2 cup cooking oil
Heat the oil in a small sauce pot under low and add your “oregano.” If you have a gas stove, be careful not to burn the oil. Let heat up for 20 minutes. The oil should be lightly frying your “oregano.” It should be a deep, golden brown color. Carefully strain the oil (it will be hot) into a mixing bowl, mashing the “oregano” against the strainer with a spoon for maximum flavor. Let cool. Follow directions on your brownie box of choice, using the required amount of “oregano” oil. Keep away from children.