You will definitely want a Cajun theme (think Emeril!) for your food. Be sure to start the food at a moderately “spicy” level, and let your guests add the punch to satisfy their individual tastes. Keep a warm pot of Jambalaya on the stove and serve it with:
• Steamed crawfish
• Po’ Boy sandwiches
• Red beans and rice
• Shrimp beignets
• Cajun hashbrowns
• Sweet potato casserole
• Bread pudding
• Spicy shrimp cocktail
• Grilled catfish
• Mardi Gras salad (Use green lettuce, purple cabbage, and either shredded carrots, gold raisins, yellow tomatoes, or cheese for the gold)
A great Mardi Gras punch is always a special thing to have on hand. An easy recipe for this is:
Equal amounts of each of the following:
Combine in a punch bowl and garnish it with slices of oranges and lemons. Serve the punch in Mardi Gras Hurricane Glasses!
The traditional King Cake is a fun way that people have celebrated Mardi Gras for years. Here are the instructions on how to create your own. Look out, baby!
½ cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
2 packages active dry yeast
½ cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
3 ½ – 4 ½ cups flour (unsifted)
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ cup warm milk
5 egg yolks
1 stick butter cut into slices and softened, plus 2 tablespoons more softened butter
1 egg slightly beaten with 1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 King Cake Baby
Pour the warm water into a small shallow bowl, and sprinkle yeast and 2 teaspoons sugar into it. Allow the yeast and sugar to settle for about three minutes then mix them together thoroughly. Set bowl aside in a warm place. Check the mixture after 10 minutes; the yeast should have bubbles and the mixture should almost double in volume. Sift together the following dry ingredients: 3 ½ cups of flour, remaining sugar, nutmeg and salt. Stir in lemon zest. Form a hole in the center of the mixture, and pour in yeast mixture and milk. Add egg yolks. Using a wooden spoon, slowly add dry ingredients. When mixture is smooth, beat in 8 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon at a time and combine to beat 2 minutes or until dough can be formed into a medium soft ball.
Place ball of dough on a lightly floured surface (a countertop or cutting board works well) and kneed like bread. If necessary, while kneading, add more flour (1 tablespoon at a time). Sprinkle flour over the dough — do not exceed 1 cup. When dough is no longer sticky, knead 10 minutes more until shiny and elastic. Evenly coat the inside of one bowl with one tablespoon softened butter. Place dough ball in the bowl and rotate until the entire surface is buttered. Cover bowl with a thick kitchen towel and place in a draft-free spot for about 1½ hours, or until the dough doubles in volume. Using a pastry brush, coat a large baking sheet with one tablespoon of butter and set aside. Relax during this 1½ hour period, read a good book, or pull together your Mardi Gras costume.
Remove dough from bowl and place on lightly floured surface. Using your fist, punch dough down with heavy blows. Sprinkle cinnamon over the top, pat and shake dough into a cylinder. Twist dough to form a curled cylinder and loop cylinder onto the buttered baking sheet. Pinch the ends together to complete the circle. Cover dough with towel and set it in draft-free spot for 45 minutes until the circle of dough doubles in volume. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Brush top and sides of cake with egg wash and bake on middle rack of oven for 25 to 35 minutes until golden brown. Place cake on wire rack to cool. This is the time to “hide” the plastic baby in the cake. There is a tradition that the person who finds the baby in their piece of King Cake is the next King or Queen. With that new title goes the responsibility to purchase the next King Cake and to host the next King Cake party.
Decorate your King Cake with colored sugars. You will need the following:
Green, purple, and yellow paste (green, purple and gold are the traditional Mardi Gras colors)
12 tablespoons sugar
Squeeze a small amount (dime size) dot of green paste in the palm of your hand. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over the paste and rub together quickly. Place this mixture on wax paper and wash hands to remove color. Repeat process for other two colors. Place aside.
3 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 – 6 tablespoons water
Combine sugar, lemon juice and 3 tablespoons water until smooth. If icing is too stiff, add more water until spreadable. Spread icing over top of cake. Immediately sprinkle the colored sugars in individual rows consisting of about two rows of green, purple and yellow.
Serve the cake in 2″-3″ pieces.