For Mardi Gras we did The Princess and the Frog in it’s honour. I made Gumbo (first time) and my husband, who HATES shrimp said “No way am I eating that”. Well, my daughter loves shrimp so I said “Fine, more leftovers for her”. It took me a long time, the roux alone takes 30 minutes, and in the end I think I spent almost two hours cooking it but when I served it it smelled so good that my husband asked for a bowl – and then he asked for seconds! So bottom line, this recipe is so amazing it will make people who don’t even like shrimp forget that they hate it (I’ve included it below). By the way, I cut the recipe in half and it still made buckets of the stuff. Unless you are doing a picnic for the church or something, cut in half.
450 g smoked sausage links, cut into slices
113 g bacon, chopped
500 mL chopped okra
392 g can diced tomatoes with chili peppers
125 mL unsalted butter
160 mL all-purpose flour
500 mL chopped onion
125 mL chopped green onions
160 mL finely chopped green bell pepper
160 mL finely chopped celery
30 mL chopped fresh parsley
30 mL minced garlic
500 mL water
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1.25 mL cayenne pepper
5 mL dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1.5 L water
900 g uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1. Brown the sausage in a skillet over medium heat, discard the fat in the skillet, and drain the sausage slices on paper towels to absorb any excess grease. Set the sausage aside. Cook and stir the chopped bacon in the skillet until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes, remove the bacon, and set aside. Stir the okra into the hot bacon drippings, and cook and stir until the okra is tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the okra in a colander, and discard bacon drippings.
2. Place the okra and diced tomatoes in a saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer the okra mixture for about 10 minutes.
3. In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat, and cook and stir the onion, green onions, green pepper, celery, parsley, and garlic until the onion begins to turn brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the vegetables but leave the butter in the pot. Stir in the flour, reduce heat to low, and cook the roux, stirring constantly, until it turns the color of milk chocolate, 30 to 45 minutes. Do not let the roux burn.
4. When the roux reaches its correct color, whisk in 2 cups of water. Raise the heat to medium; stir in salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, thyme, and bay leaves, bring the mixture to a boil, and stir in the sausage, bacon, okra-tomato mixture, and 6 more cups of water. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer the gumbo, stirring occasionally, until the soup has thickened and the flavors are blended, about 45 minutes. Stir in the shrimp, and simmer until they turn pink and opaque, 6 to 8 more minutes. Discard bay leaves and adjust the seasonings, if desired, before serving.
For dessert we made Beignets and I left them in the fridge overnight to chill. I found a great recipe here that does not use shortening (my daughter has a soy allergy so we can’t use that.) They were soooo yummy!
250 mL lukewarm water
60 mL granulated sugar
2.5 mL salt
1 large egg, room temperature and beaten
30 mL butter, softened
125 mL evaporated milk
1 L bread flour or all-purpose flour
15 mL instant active dry yeast
Vegetable oil for deep frying (just enough to cover beignets while frying)
Powdered sugar for dusting
1. Using a mixer with a dough hook, place water, sugar, salt, egg, butter, evaporated milk, flour, and yeast in the bowl. Beat until smooth. Remove dough from bowl and turn out onto a lightly-oiled surface. Form dough into an oval, place in a lightly-greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until well chilled (3 to 4 hours) or overnight.
2. Roll out the chilled dough on a lightly-floured board to 1/2-inch thickness. Using a sharp knife, cut dough into approximately 3-inch squares, triangles, or circles; set aside.
3. In a large pot, heat vegetable oil to 182˚C. Slide the dough pieces slowly into the hot oil (this is to avoid splattering) and fry the beignets (2 or 3 at a time) approximately 2 to 3 minutes or until they are puffed and golden brown on both sides; turning them in the oil with tongs once or twice to get them evenly brown. The beignets will rise to the surface of the oil as soon as they begin to puff. NOTE: If the beignets don’t rise to the top immediately when dropped into the oil, the oil is not hot enough. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.
4. While the beignets are still warm, sprinkle heavily with powdered sugar. An easy way to coat the hot beignets in powdered sugar is to place the powdered sugar an a clean bag. Add the beignets to the bag, hold bag close and shake to coat evenly.
5. Serve while still warm. The dough can be kept for up to 1 week in the refrigerator – it actually improves with age; just punch down when it rises. Dough can also be frozen; cut and roll, or shape doughnuts before freezing.)
For the crafts, my daughter made a Mardi Gras mask with sparkles, sequins, feathers, beads, and ribbons, hot glued on. All from the dollar store, score! Then she adn her brother painted a little firefly scene. She did the background and her brother did the fireflies with his pinky in some yellow finger paint.