Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mardi Gras

As we all know yesterday was Fat Tuesday, and though there was no Carnival per se in our house (I'm not sure if the mess and craziness counts) it was a great opportunity to get into the spirit of the day.

So on the 7th day of the 30 day challenge I ended up actually making 3 new dishes. I also used the Heaven on Seven cook book as a reference for my crab cakes. These were the ones that I would make 100 at a time when I worked in the restaurant.

Our menu was:
Crab Cakes with Honey Jalapeño dressing
Corn Scones with Jalapeños, scallion and cheddar
Cajun Skillet Beans with rice
King Cake

The scones and beans came from the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home. Though I have not used this in a while this is a great book for simple yet tasty recipes.

Corn Scones
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbs brown sugar
1/2 cup corn meal
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 jalapeño diced (seeds removed for a more mellow flavor)
1 - 2 scallion diced
1/4 cup grated cheddar

Pre-heat oven to 375 deg. Melt the butter, then let cool.

Mix the milk and sugar in a small bowl. Then add the butter.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt and baking powder.

Then mix in the cheese, jalapeño and scallion.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry and stir to just combine. Do not over mix the dough. Turn this out onto a floured cutting board and form into a disk about 1/2 inch thick.

Cut into 8 triangles and place on a cookie sheet. Bake about 20 minutes until golden.

I served these with a little Honey jalapeño Butter. Mix one or 2 tablespoons of soft butter with a teaspoon of jalapeño and about two teaspoons of honey and a touch of salt.

Heaven on Seven inspired crab cakes with Honey Jalapeno dressing
1 tbs butter
1 scallion diced
1 cup diced red and yellow pepper
2 garlic cloves diced
1/2 jalapeno diced
1 tbs dijon or creole mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
cayenne to taste
salt and pepper
2 small cans crab about 1/2 pound
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp all spice
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 cup bread crumbs plus extra to coat
1 egg
oil for frying

Prepare the vegetables, then saute in butter until soft about 5 minutes. Add the seasonings, season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the crab and remove from the heat.

Add the bread crumbs and mix. The mix should not be wet, but not too dry. Place in the refrigerator for about an hour to cool.

For the crab into balls and roll in the egg then in the bread crumbs and pan fry until golden on both sides about 4 minutes a side.

In the restaurant we would make the dressing using mayonnaise and heavy cream. As neither of us likes mayo, and who really needs the cream, I took the key flavors and turned this into a dressing.

Honey Jalapeno Dressing
2 scallion diced
1/2 jalapeno seeded and diced
1 Tbs honey
juice of half a lemon
1/4 cup finely diced red and yellow pepper
about 1/4 cup EVOO
salt and pepper

Mix the scallion, jalapeno, honey and lemon juice in a small bowl. Add the peppers and add enough EVOO to get a nice smooth consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

Top the cakes with the dressing.

Cajun Skillet Beans
olive oil
1 medium onion diced
3 garlic cloves
2 - 3 celery stalks diced (about 1 cup)
2 - 3 peppers diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 tsp fresh thyme (1/2 tsp dried)
1 Tbs fresh basil (1 tsp dried)
1 tsp fresh oregano (1/2 dried)
salt, pepper and cayenne to taste
2 cups chopped tomato (14 1/2 oz can)
1 Tbs honey
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
4 cups black eyed peas (2 cans, drained)
scallion, diced
cheese, grated

In a large pot, saute the onions and garlic in oil over medium for about 5 minutes.

Add the peppers and celery and cook another 5 minutes.

Then add in the spices and cook covered another 5 minutes until everything is soft.

Add the tomatoes, honey and mustard. Cook another 5 minutes.

Add the beans and cook until heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with rice and top with scallion and cheese.

What would Mardi Gras be with out a King cake?
It is tradition that hidden inside the cake is a small baby figurine, and the person that finds it receives good luck. For ours I used an almond.

I found this great recipe for the cake.

  • King Cake
    • PASTRY:
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
    • 1/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
    • 1/4 cup white sugar
    • 1 eggs
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    • 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • FILLING:
    • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
    • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 cup raisins
    • 1/4 cup melted butter
    • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons water

Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.

In a bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the egg. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1/2 cup at a time.

Using fresh nutmeg makes such a difference in the flavor. Buy the nutmeg whole a grate directly into the batter. This small grater has a small compartment on the top to store the nutmeg in it.

When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheet, line with parchment paper or silpat mat.

To Make Filling: Combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, flour and raisins. Pour melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.

Roll dough out into large rectangle (approximately 10x16 inches or so). Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form an oval shaped ring.

Place ring on a prepared cookie sheet. With scissors make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 inch intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Push the almond into the bottom of the cake.

Frost while warm with the confectioners' sugar blended with 1 to 2 tsp of water.

Guess who found the almond?

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