5 Ways to Turn Your Kitchen Into the French Quarter for Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday — no matter what you call it, tomorrow's all about indulgent, no-holds-barred eats, drinks and celebrations, especially in New Orleans, where Mardi Gras takes on an over-the-top culture all its own. If you can't make it to the French Quarter to take part in the annual parades or dress up in the signature purple, green and gold colors, bring a taste of the experience into your kitchen wherever you are by recreating classic NOLA-style classics right at home.
Piled high with layers of Italian deli meats and cheeses and a hearty layer of briny, tangy olive-pepper salad, Jeff Mauro's Monster Muffaletta (pictured above) serves as a hearty base in your stomach to soak up whatever it is you'll be drinking all day. But perhaps best of all, this big-batch sandwich is a no-cook standby that can be assembled and ready to eat in only 10 quick minutes.
If seafood is more your style, look no further than Alton Brown's Shrimp Gumbo, packed with authentic flavors. "Onions, celery and green peppers, the 'holy trinity' of both Creole and Cajun cooking, add flavor and substance to the thick shrimp and sausage stew," Alton explains. He rounds out the meal by serving this bold gumbo atop traditional white rice.
Feeling lucky on Mardi Gras? Take your chances on grabbing the sought-after plastic baby — or a dry bean — baked inside Food Network Magazine's richly decadent King Cake. The tradition states that whoever finds the toy in his or her piece of cake will enjoy good luck and prosperity. But even if you don't uncover the baby, you'll still be pretty lucky to indulge in this cinnamon-scented cake, stuffed with a bourbon-pecan filling and topped with a sweet glaze.
Of course no Mardi Gras is complete without a cocktail or two, and Food Network Magazine's Parade Time Cocktail fills the bill every time. With cake-flavored vodka and a splash of Irish cream, plus a tri-colored sugar rim, this five-minute concoction is the ultimate in themed indulgence.
In New Orleans, Cafe Du Monde is famous for its pillowy beignets served in a mound under a blanket of powdered sugar. You can enjoy a similar treat at home, thanks to Anne Burrell's easy-to-make take with her recipe for Beignets. She makes a vanilla-scented dough from scratch, then deep-fries the beignets and douses them with a snowfall of sugar while they're still warm.