Cook's Exchange: Parades, good food are Mardi Gras BFFs

February 26, 2014 

Fat Tuesday is less than a week away, and Mardi Gras festivities will be even bigger closer to that day.

In Mississippi, a weekend of parades, balls and tailgate and house parties are on tap. Many paradegoers park a recreational vehicle along the parade routes; others bring a grill and cook before the parades get started.

I thought I would share some of the best of the best recipes from readers in past seasons. These are dishes that can be packed up and taken to the parades or offered on food-laden tables at house parties along the parade routes.

Of course, crawfish and king cakes rule for these festivities. Sandra Shanks and Tamye Moe have two crawfish soups that make good tailgating fare. Liz de Bruler has a crawfish cornbread recipe in the Biloxi Yacht Club's cookbook. It's more than just cornbread and makes a spicy appetizer.

What makes every Mardi Gras event just right? King cake, of course. Yes, there are plenty of stores in which to buy king cakes, but why not try an easy homemade one? Susie Creel makes one with peach-macadamia nut pie filling. Crescent rolls are used for the dough.

For those who do not celebrate Mardi Gras, these recipes will work well for parties, potlucks or an evening meal.

CRAWFISH SOUP

2 packages crawfish tails

Boil in Zatarain's Liquid crab boil (2 teaspoons to a pot of water) for 4 minutes; drain.

Saute until clear:

1- 1/2 sticks butter, melted

2 bunches green onions, diced

Mix and heat:

2 cans whole kernel corn, drained

2 cans cream of potato soup

2 cans cream of mushroom soup

2 cans of tomatoes with chiles (hot or mild, your choice)

1 pint half and half

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese

Add crawfish tails and green onion mixture. Soup will be thick. Thin down with water if needed. I used milk to thin some. Serve with rice or toasted croutons.

-- Submitted by Sandra Shanks

CRAWFISH SOUP

2 packages frozen crawfish tails (12-14 ounces each), thawed

2 cans cream-style corn (about 14 ounces each)

2 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk

3 cans Campbell's Cream of Potato Soup

1 onion, chopped fine

Garlic, chopped fine, to taste

1 stick butter

Zatarain's Creole Seasoning, to taste

Saute the onion and garlic in butter until tender. Combine onion mixture and all the rest of the ingredients in a slow cooker and heat until bubbly, a few hours on high or half the day on low. Serve with toasted French bread, garlic bread or cheese biscuits.

-- Submitted by Tamye Moe from "Wine, Women & Cookin' "

How about some crawfish cornbread that can be packed easily and toted to the parades?

Sonja Sheffield sent in this recipe for de Bruler.

SPICY CRAWFISH CORNBREAD

1 pound crawfish tails

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup chopped onions

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup chopped bell pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup margarine

2 eggs

1 cup corn meal

1 cup milk

Hot sauce to taste, optional

1/2 pound grated hot pepper cheese

Saute crawfish tails, bell pepper and onions in margarine. In a mixing bowl, combine corn meal, baking soda and baking powder, salt, eggs and milk. Add the grated hot pepper cheese and sauteed crawfish, bell pepper and onion mixture. If you desire a hotter taste, you may add some hot sauce. Pour into a greased 9-by-2-inch baking dish and bake for 45 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Cool slightly and cut into bite-size pieces and serve as an appetizer.

-- Submitted by Sonja Sheffield; recipe by Liz de Bruler

Stuffed mushrooms are another tasty appetizer that I particularly like and make; any type of seafood -- or even no seafood -- can be used. All you have to do is substitute shrimp or crab or even veggies for the crawfish.

CRAWFISH STUFFED MUSHROOMS

24 portobello mushrooms, wiped with damp cloth, stems removed and set aside

1 pound crawfish, cooked and peeled (I use the packaged tail meat)

1- 1/2 cups cornbread, however you like your cornbread, crumbled

1 onion, chopped fine

Garlic, chopped fine (about 2 cloves)

4-5 eggs, depending how moist you want stuffing

Mushroom stems, chopped fine

Tony Chachere's Cajun seasoning, to taste

Parmesan cheese

Dried Italian bread crumbs

Place mushroom caps on baking sheet and brush with melted butter or spray with a nonstick butter spray. Set aside.

Mix mushroom stems, cornbread, onion, garlic, seasoning, crawfish and eggs together. Can make in food processor or blender to get a better consistency. Stuff mixture into caps. Top with mixture of bread crumbs and cheese. Bake at 325 degrees for 30-45 minutes. (I adapted this recipe from one by Ted Kors. I can never just follow a recipe without putting my own touches on it.)

And now for the sweet treat.

KING CAKE

Cream cheese filling:

12 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 egg yolk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla or almond flavor

Mix ingredients together until smooth. This amount of filling makes enough for 2 king cakes when the fruit filling is used, too.

Fruit filling:

1 can peach pie filling

A little brown sugar

1 packet of Equal no-sugar sweetener

Cinnamon

Nutmeg

Macadamia nuts, however many you want

Mix ingredients together.

Cake:

2 packages refrigerated crescent rolls, 8 per tube

Place crescent roll triangles in a circle on non-stick baking sheet. Spread cream cheese filling down the middle of the triangles. Follow with the fruit filling. Roll pointed ends of triangle up and over the filling. Bake according to instructions on crescent roll package, about 15 minutes or so.

Creel tops the cake with a thin powdered sugar icing with green, gold and purple sugar sprinkles.

-- Recipe by Susie Creel

Give these recipes a try and have a happy and safe Mardi Gras.

Andrea Yeager, who can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net, takes contributions or requests at Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.

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