My Mardi Gras Birthday and New Orleans Soul Food Recipes

 

 

My Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday Birthday

My Birthday King Cake

 

 

Julie and Monk, My 57th. Birthday

When I found out that my February 13th. birthday was falling on Fat Tuesday this year, 2018,  I told Gordon that I wanted a King Cake for my birthday.

My Birthday Cake

I am a southern girl, born and raised throughout the south, New Orleans Mardi Gras represents good Southern Soul Food as well as a party atmosphere of jazz music.  After all, The Blue’s was born in New Orleans.  Cajun, Creole, Crawfish, Po’ Boy’s, Frog’s Legs, Dirty Rice, Muffaletta’s, Okra, Gumbo…  All my favorite things.

So, I finally had an excuse to drag out all of my old Mardi Gras things and celebrate my turning 57.  The older I get the more I realize how important that it is to celebrate every single birthday.  Do NOT be sad that you are getting older, CELEBRATE IT!  It’s a milestone that not many are reaching in this age of cancer.  I don’t live for some afterlife, I live for this life!

So, with that in mind here is my Mardi Gras birthday, my King Cake, my favorite Muffaletta Sandwich, Fried Okra, Potatoes and Peanuts, my birthday dinner with my family at Tibby’s, my favorite Fried Catfish, Southern Coleslaw and great cupcakes dedicated to my favorite frogs.  🙂

(Although some of these recipes will be on Our Southern Soul Food post.)

Click Here for:  Our Southern Soul Food

Thank you for joining me,

Julie

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French Wine, Muffaletta’s, and Fried Okra, Potatoes and Peanuts

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This card I made years ago.  I had found some etchings in the trash can of my artist daughter.  (I have found some of the nicest things she has drawn in her trashcan.)  I dug them out, brushed them off, and scanned them into my computer.  Then attached them to this card.

Excellent!

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How often does your February birthday fall on Fat Tuesday? 

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Contemplating my 57th. Birthday

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A tradition that I have started is to give gifts on my birthday to those that attend.  When I was first introduced to Gordon’s grandmother Beryl, it was her 80th. birthday and I loved how she had gifts for all of us that attended her birthday.  She didn’t want anything, but she wanted to give to all of us.  I was so impressed with that that it has become MY custom.  So, on my Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras birthday I put together gifts to give to our children and their partners.  Gifts that were of a New Orleans nature.

Creole Seasoning, French Donut Coffee, Cajun Hot Sauce…..

For Veronica and Lauren I wanted to give a gift that was also of a Valentine nature, seeing as how Valentine’s Day comes after my birthday.  So I found some cute cosmetic bags that also had a skull on them, and some lovely rose blush, and some Godiva chocolate candies.

The Gifts are Ready for the Recipients

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Tibby’s

Our Lovely Dining Experience

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What is inside the gifts bags?

Everyone opening their gifts at Tibby’s restaurant. 

I do love all of Lauren’s facial expressions.  She is on the right, and she is a hoot!  🙂

I got a CAT bottle of wine!

I collect interesting wine bottles and my daughter knows that.  Never had a Cat wine bottle before.

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My Birthday Dinner at Tibby’s

 We wanted to take our kids and their partners out to dinner to a New Orleans themed restaurant when it was convenient for everyone to attend.

Gordon and Julie

I think we had the best table in the house.

Gordon, Julie, Brian, Veronica, Brodie and Lauren

My Birthday Cocktail, the Voo-Doo

I even brought along my Voo-Doo doll that I bought in New Orleans.  Both Veronica and I have one.  I named mine Dori after a horrible neighbor we had in Hawaii.  🙂

Our Children and their Partners

Our Big Dinner

Fried Dill Pickles and My Fried Mississippi Catfish Dinner

We ordered several appetizers as well as our main course.

Shrimp and Alligator Cheesecake, Boudin Balls, and an order of Red Beans and Rice for me for my lunch the following day.

Brian’s Giant Heat Attack Dinner

(It was HUGE!  None of us were expecting that.)  🙂

A Big Collage of my Birthday

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The Gift of King Cake

Gordon made two King Cakes for my birthday.  One for me, and one to cut up and give to our children to enjoy.

We even placed them in separate containers so they could each have their own.

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Decorating the King Cake

When it came to the decorations I wanted to do it myself.  I used some of our old Mardi Gras beads and coins, along with a plastic snake, and some little chocolate bottles filled with alcohol.  (I thought that appropriate.)  🙂  And one large candle in the center.  I did not want to blow out 57 candles!

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Everyone’s Gift of King Cake

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And a cute little note of congratulations to our daughter and her boyfriend on their engagement.  🙂

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Now For the Food

The Muffaletta

The Muffaletta’s Origins are Italian

One of my favorite sandwiches, the Muffaletta.  My favorite Muffaletta I ate years ago in the French Quarter in New Orleans.  I also found the best used bookstore ever there!  Piles of books stacked up to the ceiling!  I was having a field day shopping when Gordon wanted lunch, so we found an excellent restaurant and ate.  I can see it all in my mind as if it were yesterday.  Food and Memories go hand in hand.

And although the sandwich is of Italy in nature, there is no such sandwich in Italy.  That’s because it was invented by Sicilian immigrants that arrived in the late 1800’s from the Port of Palermo to the Port of New Orleans.  They quickly settled in and their food became popular.

So, here is our quick and easy Muffaletta Sandwich.

Ingredients:

Wheat Loaf Bread, Round

4 Tbsp. Grainy Mustard

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

~12 Oz. Muffuletta Salad (You can make your own or buy it ready made.)

3 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar

1/4 Lb. Provolone Cheese slices

1/4 Lb. Turkey Pastrami slices

1/4 Lb. Honey Ham slices

1/4 Lb. Swiss Cheese slices

1/4 Lb. Mozzarella Cheese slices

All of our Meats and Cheeses

Slice the round loaf in half

Remove by hand some of the inside of the bread to allow room for all the other ingredients.

Using a good grainy mustard, spread a good amount on one side of the bread.

French Grainy Mustard

Use a good extra virgin olive oil to stop the excess liquid from the Muffuletta mixture from seeping through the bread… oil and water don’t mix!

Brush on a thin layer to the bread half.

Drain the Muffuletta Salad mixture well.

This brand was really good!  Just look at all the vegetables.

Spread a good amount of the mixture all over the oiled half of the bread.

Using a good balsamic vinegar, drizzle a good amount over the salad mixture.

By applying the olive oil to the bread first, it prevents the moisture from the olive tapenade to sink down into the bread making it wet.  This sandwich will keep in the refrigerator for days without it becoming soggy.  Also, eating the Muffaletta a day or two later allows the flavor’s to meld together nicely making it taste better.

Layer your cheese and meats over the Muffuletta salad mixture.

I used the Mozzarella cheese first.

The Turkey Pastrami is good and peppery.

Layer the Provolone on top of the Pastrami.

Then the ham and the Swiss cheese.

Combine the sandwich.

Using a serrated knife, cut the sandwich into quarters.

Layering the meats and cheeses makes for a great presentation.

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The Magical Taste of Leftovers

This sandwich and it’s flavors have been mingling together in the refrigerator and actually tastes better in a day or two.  Great to take in to work the following day!

Enjoy!

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Fried Okra and Potatoes with Peanuts

Fried Okra is a staple in the south and I, Julie, certainly did grow up with it.  But, my parents only fried the okra, it was my old friend Judy who would add potatoes to hers.  So, Gordon and I started adding potatoes to our okra and loved it!  The peanuts came later on for us.  There are some New Orleans chefs that will grind up peanuts to add to their dishes.  Here we do both.  I told Gordon to just throw in the peanuts whole and not worry about chopping them up.

Recipe Ingredients

Frozen then Thawed Okra – about 2 Med. Bags

8 Red Potatoes diced

1/2 Cup Corn Starch

1/4 Cup Flour

1/4 Cup Bread Crumbs

1 Tbsp. Lawry’s Seasoned Salt

1 teaspon Fresh Ground Black Pepper

1 teaspoon Garlic Salt

1 Cup Chopped Peanuts (Some were whole)

1/2 to 3/4 Cup Egg Whites

Vegetable Oil to fill your pan 1/2″ deep

All of our Ingredients

Add your Corn Starch into a large Zip Lock bag.

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Our Beautiful Okra and Potatoes

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Add your flour

Then your bread crumbs

and seasonings

Close the bag and toss well.  Then add your chopped okra and close the bag.

Toss well.  Here is a great shot of what they should look like.

Chop your potatoes to dice sized pieces.

Add them to the bag and close.

Shake well

 

Add your oil to the saute pan and heat to med high.

A Cast Iron Skillet Works Well Here

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You can crush your peanuts.  Here we used a old style ice crusher to crush the peanuts.

Add the crushed peanuts to the bag and shake well.

We also threw in some Whole Peanuts as well.

Here, I felt the mixture was a little dry, so I added some egg whites to the bag to help the breading stick to the okra and potatoes.

Add more cornstarch and flour to the mixture if you feel it needs it.

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The mixture became a little clumpy, but the seasonings stayed on the vegetables.

I basically flattened out the mixture in the oil.

Then broke it up with a spoon as it cooked.

Fry the mixture until golden brown.

Place the cooked okra and potatoes onto a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.

Perfection! 

This is an excellent side dish.  Lots of crunch and flavor!

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Julie’s Birthday King Cake

All of the Ingredients

 

Gordon asked me what kind of filling that I wanted in my King Cake? 

I’m not too fond of anything cream cheesy, which is more traditional so I nixed that.

But, I did want the ingredients to be “Southern”, so I decided on my beloved peanut butter and my newfound love of Tabasco Chocolate Bars.

Cake Ingredients
1 cup lukewarm milk, about 110°F
1/2 cup sugar in the raw
1 Package dry yeast
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup melted butter
2 tsp. Vegetable Oil or melted butter
2 egg yolks and 2 whole eggs beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 – 15 oz. Pkg. Jif Whips – Whipped Peanut Butter
1 – 1 oz. Tabasco Chocolate – Chocolate Bar – Chopped
3 Tbsp Melted butter to top cakes
Egg Wash – made from 1 egg and a Tbsp. of water mixed well
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Icing Ingredients
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 Cup Half and Half
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Purple, green, and gold decorative sugars
Strings of Beads or other Decorations

Gordon Ready to Make the King Cakes

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Add your flour and yeast to a large bowl.

Add your salt and Cinnamon to the bowl and mix with a whisk.

In another bowl add your eggs.

Using your hands is the best way to separate the yolks from the whites.

Add your sweetener (Sugar in the Raw) to the eggs.

Then add your room temperature butter to the eggs.

Place your milk in a microwave safe measuring cup …

and heat to 110’F.  I used the microwave to do this…

then check the temperature with my digital thermometer.

In the meantime, whisk your butter and egg mixture until thoroughly combined.

When the milk is at 110’F or just below 110’F, add it to the flour and yeast mixture.

Stir the milk into the flour and yeast mixture.

Then add your eggs and butter mixture to the flour mixture.

Beat the mixture together using a wooden spoon.  If you own a mixer with a dough hook, combine the mixtures in your mixing bowl and mix until combined and reaches a dough like state.

I don’t have one, so I have to make it the old school way… by hand.

Here, the dough is still a little sticky, so I had to use more flour.

Add more flour a little at a time and continue to mix the dough.

Remove the dough ball from the bowl and in another clean bowl place some vegetable oil or butter which will help the dough to not stick to the bowl when in the rising phase.

Cover the bowl and place in a warm area of the kitchen to let the dough rise.

I turned the oven onto ~250’F for about 2 min. then turned the oven off.

I then let it cool a little before placing the dough on the oven door.

You need to let the dough rise until it doubles in size which takes about 1 hour.

Here, I made two dough’s.

We don’t have the biggest kitchen so we have to improvise sometimes.

Here is a great picture (thanks Julie!) of the dough which has doubled in size.

Place some flour evenly spaced on your work surface.

 

Place your dough on the work surface to coat with some flour then turn the dough over and start to flatten it with your hands.

Using a rolling pin or hand one as I have, flatten the dough to about 1/4 inch in thickness in a rectangular shape that is about 24 inches by 10 inches.  Do not roll the dough less than 1/4 inch or it will be to thin to hold the ingredients.

Here, I place some wax paper on a sheet pan then folded the dough in half.

I thought the sheet pan would be large enough to hold the circle of dough seen in the next few steps, but it wasn’t large enough, so I used a pizza pan.

Using a rubber spatula, spread the whipped peanut butter onto the dough about 1/2 of an inch from the edge.

Chop your chocolate bar with your chef knife and evenly place it over the whipped peanut butter.

Using the wax paper, fold the dough length wise 3/4 of the way up leaving about 2 inches.

Then fold the 2 inches of dough on top of the main dough and crimp the dough together using your fingers.

Place some parchment paper onto a large pizza pan and carefully move the dough to the new pan, keeping the seem side down.

JUST USE A PIZZA PAN TO BEGIN WITH THEN YOU WON’T HAVE TO MOVE IT.

SOMETIMES WE LEARN AS WE GO!  🙂

Move the dough into a circle and overlap the ends then crimp them together.

Here are my first tries at doing this.  The one below was the second one I did which turned out looking a little better.

Don’t worry about what is looks like, the icing and sugar will cover it all.

Preheat your oven to 350’F then melt some butter.

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Let your cakes rest in a warm place to let them rise again… this will take about 25 min.

Brush the melted butter all over the cakes

and set into the oven to bake.

When slightly golden brown , pull the cakes out and brush on some egg wash made from 1 egg and a Tbsp. of water mixed well.

Bake the cakes for about another 10 min. and remove from the oven.

They look like giant donuts.

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The Icing Ingredients:

 
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 Cup Half and Half
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Purple, green, and gold decorative sugars
Strings of Beads or other Decorations

Making the Icing…

Add the powdered sugar and half-and-half to a medium sized bowl.

We used one that can pour out easily.

Now add your flavorings to the sugar mixture.

Mix the mixture with a whisk until thoroughly combined.

Add a touch more half-and-half if the consistency isn’t to your liking.

The mixture should be about as thick as paint.

Here, I used the whisk as a spoon to apply the icing to the cakes.

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HERE is where you would hide the TRADITIONAL baby.  Lift up one side of the cake and place it under the cake.

Traditionally, whoever gets the slice of cake with the baby, has to make next years’ King Cake.

One at a time, sprinkle your green, purple, and gold colored sugar.

As you can see, the sugars covered all the cakes imperfections.

Decorate the cake with your favorite beads and coins.

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Gift of King Cake

A Lovely Edible Gift to Give

We are always saving those food containers that we get from restaurants.  They come in handy when giving an edible gift and the recipient doesn’t have to worry about returning the container to us.

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I love to decorate them in the same theme as the food we are giving.

Although the silverware looks real it’s actually just plastic.

Bon Appetite!

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Happy Mardi Gras!

Julie

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After dinner we went to Barnes and Noble Bookstore so that I could pick out my birthday gifts. 

There is nothing better than the gift of books!  🙂

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And exactly what have you two been up to???  Hmmm????

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