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TIP OF THE DAY: King Cake & Milk Punch For Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras 2017 falls on Tuesday, February 28. It always falls on the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.

Celebrating the Carnival season, Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday) has been a state holiday in Louisiana since the 19th century.

WHAT’S MARDI GRAS?

The Carnival season begins on or after the Epiphany or Kings Day (January 6th), and culminates on the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday refers to the practice of eating richer, fatty foods the last night before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday.

Mardi Gras is sometimes referred to as Shrove Tuesday, from the word shrive, meaning “confess.” But the idea of rich foods is far more appealing.

Why “Carnival?”

Centuries ago, Catholics in Italy started the tradition of holding a wild costume festival right before the first day of Lent. It stuck, engendering huge Carnival events elsewhere, including New Orleans and Rio de Janiero.

In New Orleans, parades and other celebrations begin the extended weekend before, starting Friday, February 24th.

You don’t have to go all-out to celebrate, or even prepare a Jambalaya Bar for friends and family.

Instead, invite them to drop by for a slice of King Cake, a glass of milk punch, or both.

You can buy a King Cake—the traditional Mardi Gras buttery yeasted sweet cake, or make one with the excellent mix kit from King Arthur Flour. It includes the yeast cake mix, almond paste, white icing mix and decorating sugars.

BYO plastic baby: Per, tradition the person who gets the piece of cake with the baby (or coin, or other token) gets good luck all year!

IMPORTANT: Never bake anything plastic in a cake; it will melt and render the cake inedible (and for all we know, it can catch fire). The technique is: after the cake is baked and still warm (and more pliable), insert the good luck token into the cake from the underside, before icing.

Here’s more on the history of King Cake.

TO DRINK: MILK PUNCH

Milk punch is in the category of drinks made with milk or cream: Brandy Alexander, Classic Ramos Gin Fizz, Grasshopper, Irish Coffee, Mudslide, Pink Squirrel, White Russian, and many others (hey—another idea for a themed cocktail party: cream-based cocktails).

   

King Cake Mardi Gras

King Cake Kit

King Cake

[1] [2] [3] These King Cakes were made from a mix kit from King Arthur Flour. The rectangular shape isn’t traditional, but you can be as creative as you like.

 
Milk punch combines brandy or bourbon* with milk, sugar and vanilla extract, typically garnished with grated nutmeg. It is served cold and usually has nutmeg sprinkled on top.

FOOD TRIVIA: sugar was added to cocktails to cover up the taste of the alcohol, as was milk.

 

Milk Punch

Nutmeg and Microplane

[4] You can serve milk punch in whatever glasses you have (photo Michelle Banovic | Atwood Hotel | Chicago. [5] Don’t forget the nutmeg. We have a special nutmeg grater (like a peppermill for nutmeg); but you can use your Microplane (photo courtesy McCormick).

 

MILK PUNCH HISTORY

Milk punch was popularized in the 17th century by Aphra Behn, one of the first English women to earn her living by her writing. At the time, all types of punch were served from a punch bowl.

The milk punch of the era was made with cream curdled with lemon juice. Those recipes gave way to milk punches that use(d) fresh milk or cream, like egg nog—which is a milk punch enriched with eggs.

Milk punches—egg nog or other—became holiday and celebratory traditions (for example, Mardi Gras).

In modern-day New Orleans, milk punches vie as brunch drinks with the Bloody Mary, created in 1940 in New York City (Bloody Mary history).

There are as many recipes for milk punch as for anything else, but for Mardi Gras we serve up the recipe from Brennan’s, a favorite New Orleans restaurant since 1946.

For a 17th-century-type recipe, try Benjamin Franklin’s recipe. He used brandy and included lots of lemon juice (which curdled the milk).

MILK PUNCH RECIPES

This, and other cognac-based milk punches, often use Napoleon brandy, a designation for a brandy or cognac aged at least five years. Feel free to use VSOP; with all the cream and sugar, the nuances of the Napoleon will be covered up.

If you don’t like or don’t have brandy, you can substitute bourbon, rum, whiskey and even tequila.

RECIPE #1: BRENNAN’S BRANDY MILK PUNCH

Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces/4 tablespoons brandy or cognac
  • 4 ounces/1/2 cup half & half
  • 1 ounce/2 tablespoons simple syrup† (recipe)
  • 1/4 ounce/1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Garnish: freshly grated nutmeg
  •  
    Plus

  • Cocktail shaker and ice
  • Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.

    2. SHAKE vigorously and pour into a chilled old-fashioned glass. Garnish with nutmeg.

    RECIPE #2: BRANDY MILK PUNCH

    Here’s a recipe from New Orleans Online that uses more milk and less sugar.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 oz brandy or bourbon
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon powdered sugar
  • 3 ice cubes
  • Cracked ice
  • Garnish: freshly grated nutmeg
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the brandy, milk, and sugar with the ice cubes in a cocktail shaker, and shake until frothy (about 1 minute).

    2. STRAIN into a double-old fashioned glass filled with cracked ice. Sprinkle with nutmeg and serve.
    ________________

    *Some people prefer gin, tequila or other spirit.

    †We prefer less sweetness, so reduce the simple syrup.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: DIY Jambalaya Bar

    For Mardi Gras—February 28—try a new take on food bars (a.k.a. buffets): DIY Jambalaya.

    Jambalaya is a delicious, spicy, main course consisting of rice and practically everything else in the refrigerator! It’s a great way to use favorite meats and veggies (shrimp, peas, carrots, bell peppers). You can start from scratch; for a family night, using leftovers is more than acceptable.

    Jambalaya is also an economical and easy way to feed a large group—Super Bowl Sunday, Oscar parties, even outdoor fêtes.

    But, as a creation of New Orleans, we like it best for Mardi gras.

    JAMBALAYA HISTORY

    Jambalaya originated in Louisiana. Creole jambalaya, called red jambalaya by the Cajuns to differentiate it from their take—sprang from the French Quarter of New Orleans, the sector originally inhabited by Europeans.

    Jambalaya was an adaptation of paella by the Spaniards, most of whom could not afford saffron (an essential paella ingredient) due to high import costs. Tomatoes were substituted to color and flavor the dish.

    French Creoles introduced jambalaya to the Cajuns of southern Louisiana, who rarely used tomatoes (it’s swamp country). Instead, they browned the meat for color and smoky flavor and referred to their recipe as brown jambalaya.

    The word “jambalaya” is a combination of the Spanish jamón or the French jambon, meaning ham, and another word; however, what word that is can be controversial.

  • You may read that the word is “aya, African for rice.” But there are no rice varietals in Africa with names like “yaya,” “aya,” or “ya.” “Ya” in Mambila (the language of Cameroon and Nigeria), and “y?” or “yala” (among the Grusi and Lyela peoples of Burkina Faso) refer to another grain, sorghum.
  • A better explanation may be the combination of jamón/jambon and paella: It doesn’t take too close a look to notice that jambalaya is an adaptation of paella, using white rice instead of saffron rice. Jam-paella or jamb-paella = jambalaya.
  •  
    While there are different recipes for each dish, both paella and jambalaya incorporate chicken, ham, sausage and seafood.

    Since jambalaya could be made economically in big black cast iron pots for crowds*, it became popular for large events, including church suppers, weddings and political rallies.

    The recipe evolved to seafood-only versions, meat-only versions, and vegetarian/vegan recipes. One of the benefits of a jambalaya bar is that each person can customize the dish as he/she wishes.

    The easiest way to make the rice is to use Zatarain’s Jambalaya Mix. Alternatively, use plain white rice with cajun seasoning from McCormick, or other brands.

    Thanks to Olivia Manning and Zatarain’s for the suggestion!

    RECIPE: JAMBALAYA BAR

    This recipe makes five dinner-size portions. Multiply it for a larger crowd. Don’t worry about leftovers: leftover Jambalaya is delicious (even cold!).

    Ingredients For 5 Servings

    Cooked Proteins (Total 1.5 Cups)

  • Andouille or other smoked sausage, sliced
  • Ham, cubed
  • Chicken, cubed or sliced
  • Shrimp, peeled and deveined shrimp
  • For an all-shellfish jambalaya: scallops, mussels, oysters, shrimp
  •  
    Vegetables

  • Green bell peppers, cubed or sliced, cooked
  • Heat: hot sauce, red chile flakes, sliced jalapeños
  • Onions: sliced cooked onions, raw green onions (scallions)
  • Red bell peppers, cubed or sliced, cooked
  •  
    Rice

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 package Zatrain’s Jambalaya Mix, Original
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX the water and rice mix in a large saucepan until well blended. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low; cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed and the rice is tender

    2. REMOVE from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving and place on a platter or individual serving plates. Bring to the table with the add-ins.

       

    Jambalaya

    Jambalaya Bar

    Zatarain's Jambalaya Mix

    Cajun Seasoning

    King Cake

    [1] A pot of Jambalaya, served at the table (here’s the recipe from Gimme Some Oven). [2] Deconstruct the ingredients for a Jambalaya Bar (photo courtesy Olivia Manning | Zatarain’s). [3] Zatarain’s Jambalaya Mix. [4] You can use Cajun seasoning to flavor plain white rice (photo courtesy McCormick). [5] Yes, please! It’s easy to make a King Cake with the mix kit from King Arthur Flour.

    ________________

    *One of the charms of paella is the crispy rice crust that develops at the bottom of the pan, called soccorat. You can’t get soccorat from cooking in a large kettle. Paella is cooked in a wide, shallow pan with a layer of rice on the bottom. At the end of cooking, the heat is turned up to create the crust. Socorrat derives from the Spanish verb socarrar, to singe.

     

    Sazerac Cocktail

    Sazerac de Forge 1811 Cognac

    [6] The Sazerac Cocktail, a New Orleans specialty (photo courtesy Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse). [7] A bottle of the original Sazerac cognac, currently for sale for €12,500 at Old Liquors.

     

    WHAT TO DRINK? A SAZERAC!

    Beer and Jambalaya are natural companions, but you might like to start the event with a round of one of New Orlean’s signature cocktails, the Sazerac.

    Developed in the 1830s, the Sazerac is a New Orleans variation of a cognac or whiskey cocktail, named for the Sazerac de Forge et Fils house of cognac with which it was originally made, plus rye.

    As the story goes, the cocktail was first mixed at Antoine Amédée Peychaud’s apothecary on Royal Street. With his own bitters—still called for in the recipe— Peychaud’s bitters, served friends a cognac cocktail made with his own bitters (you can make your own too—here’s more about bitters). It was then popularized at Sazerac Coffee House, a saloon on Exchange Place in the French Quarter.

    The primary ingredient in the cocktail was switched from cognac to rye in 1870 and an absinthe rinse added, due to changing tastes; the recipe remains so today, but you can go back to the original—or make both recipes to see which you prefer.

    It is one of many descendants of the Old Fashione. The absinthe and Peychaud’s bitters make it unique to New Orleans.

    Bartenders of today use rich simple syrup (2:1 sugar:water ratio instead of 1:1) instead of the sugar cube.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1/4 ounce absinthe (herbsaint)
  • Crushed ice
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 1-1/2 ounce rye or cognac
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters (you can substitute Angostura—both are made from gentian)
  • Garnish: lemon peel
  •  
    Preparation

    1. RINSE a chilled old-fashioned (rocks) glass with the absinthe, add crushed ice and set it aside.

    2. STIR the remaining ingredients in a shaker over ice and set it aside.

    3. DISCARD the ice and any excess absinthe from the prepared glass, and strain the drink into the glass. Garnish and serve. Optionally, you can serve the drink straight up.

     
    MORE MARDI GRAS RECIPES

    Cocktails

  • Purple, Gold & Green Cocktails—the colors of Mardi Gras
  •  
    Mains

  • Easy Gumbo Recipe
  • Gumbalaya—a cross between gumbo and jambalaya
  • Shrimp & Grits
  •  
    Desserts

  • Beignets
  • King Cake Mix
  •   

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    PRODUCT: Mardi Gras King Cake Kit

    King Cake

    King Cake

    Here’s what you can make from the King Cake Kit. You can use the icing and sparkling sugars to create your own special design. Photos courtesy King Arthur Flour.

     

    Egad: It’s a perfect storm of food holidays! The Super Bowl is February 7th, Lunar New Year begins February 8th, Mardi Gras follows on February 9th, and Valentine’s Day is February 14th.

    We’re tackling them one by one. Here, an easy and most delicious King Cake kit from King Arthur Flour lets you celebrate in style. It has everything you need to make a fine King Cake. You can even host a King Cake party, as many do in Louisiana.

    Hundreds of thousands of King Cakes are eaten in Louisiana during the Carnival season: at home, in offices and at King Cake parties.

    While people in other parts of the country may order a King Cake from a baking company in Louisiana, making your own with a King Arthur product is likely to be tastier, not to mention less expensive and more fun.
     
    THE KING CAKE KIT

    What’s included:

  • 1-pound box of premium cake mix (an egg- and butter-rich yeasted sweet dough)
  • Almond paste for the filling
  • White icing mix
  • 2-ounce bag of each decorating sugar in the Mardi Gras colors of yellow, green and purple
  •  
    The traditional plastic baby is not included, but you can get one at the nearest party store (in the Baby Shower section).

    The kit is $19.95 at KingArthurFlour.com.

     
    ________________________________________
    *The colors were selected in 1872 to honor the visiting Russian Grand Duke Alexis Alexis Alexandrovich Romanoff, whose house colors were purple, green and gold. Purple signifies justice, green represents faith and gold is for power.

     

    THE HISTORY OF KING CAKE

    The King Cake is an adaptation of the French Epiphany Cake. While an Epiphany Cake is subdued—a round of crisp brown pastry—the celebration cakes in New Orleans are decorated in the three official colors of Mardi Gras: purple, green and gold*.

    The cake itself is named for the three Wise Men, also called Magi or Kings. In France the Epiphany Cake is called galette des rois, king cake.

    The King Cake tradition is believed to have arrived in New Orleans around 1870. In France, puff pastry (pâte à choux) is filled with almond cream (frangipane). But in New Orleans, the concept took another direction.

    The first King Cakes for Mardi Gras were simple rings of yeast dough, some braided, with a small amount of decoration.

    The cakes became more festive over time, incorporating the Mardi Gras colors.

    In more recent years, the fillings have followed modern tastes. You can find them in chocolate, numerous fruit flavors, even cream cheese. Royal icing with the three official colors of sparkling sugar decorate the tops.

    Shapes have evolved, too: round, oval, square, and at fine restaurants, deconstructed. There are also cookie and macarons in purple, green and gold.

    The ubiquitous cakes range from garish supermarket options to elegant pastry from the best bakers.
     
    What About The Baby?

    The cake traditionally includes a small plastic baby representing Baby Jesus. The person who gets the piece of cake with the baby is said to have good luck for the next year.

    Note, however, that the lucky trinket has various privileges and obligations, which can include hosing next year’s party—or at least, bringing the cake.

    After the rich Danish dough is braided and baked, the “baby” is inserted. The top of the ring or oval cake is then covered with delicious sugar toppings in the Mardi Gras colors.

    Today, a tiny plastic baby is the common prize. At a party, the King Cake is sliced and served. Each person looks to see if their piece contains the “baby.” If so, then that person is named “King” for a day and bound by custom to host the next party and provide the King Cake.
     
    In earlier days, the baby might be made of porcelain, or even gold in wealthy homes.

    These days, since no one should bake plastic inside a cake, the trinket is typically inserted through the underside of the baked cake.

    In the past, as in France, other trinkets such as coins and charms could be baked into the cake. In humbler homes, a pecan, pea or bean could be baked in.

    Trinket or not, we look forward to a big slice of our King Arthur King Cake.

     

    King Cake

    Glamorous King Cake

    Deconstructed King Cake

    Baby Figurines

    Top: A nicely decorated King Cake from Hudson Valley Chocolates. Second: A glamorous King Cake from New Orleans confectioner Sucre. Third: Chef Ric Tramonto’s deconstructed King Cake at Restaurant R’evolution. Bottom: A baby figurine is inserted into the cake. These are from Wilton, but any party store should have them.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Mardi Gras Party

    shrimp-grits-mackenzieltd-230

    Shrimp and Grits, a popular Mardi Gras dish.
    Here’s a video recipe. Photo courtesy
    MackenzieLtd.com.

     

    Mardi Gras is a week away: Tuesday, February 17th.

    Mardi Gras, French for “Fat Tuesday” and called Shrove Tuesday in English, is part of the Catholic Carnival celebration beginning on Epiphany and ending the day before Ash Wednesday.

    The “fat” refers to the last night that one can eat richer, fatty foods (meat, dairy, fats and sugar) before giving them up for the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which starts the following day. “Shrove” is the past participle of the verb “to shrive,” meaning “to obtain absolution for one’s sins through confession and doing penance.”

    Mardi Gras parades, festivals and masquerades in colorful costumes mark the transition from traditional daily life to Lent. No parties or celebrations are held during Lent, the six week period prior to Easter that represents the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness.

    You don’t have to head to New Orleans to celebrate: Bring the party to your place. If you want to decorate, streamers or balloons in the traditional Mardi Gras colors (purple, green and gold) will do nicely. For music, check out these New Orleans playlists.

     
    MARDI GRAS MENU

    You can entertain easily, with muffaletta sandwiches or a hearty pot of jambalaya.

    If you want to do some more elaborate cooking, here are some ideas from Chef Mike Valentine of Ford’s Oyster House, a New Orleans themed restaurant in Greenville, South Carolina.

  • Crawfish spread with crackers
  • Andouille dip (andouille sausage and red beans—recipe below)
  • Grilled chicken with Cajun spices
  • Shrimp and grits
  • Fried okra gumbo
  • Crab cakes with remoulade sauce
  •  

    NEW ORLEANS COCKTAILS

    Here are three classic cocktail ideas:

  • Sazerac Cocktail recipe, the rye- or Cognac-based official cocktail of New Orleans (recipe below).
  • Hurricane Cocktail, invented in New Orleans in the early 1940s by a tavern owner who had too much rum on hand (recipe).
  • Cocktails in Mardi Gras colors (recipes).
  •  

    RECIPE: SAZERAC COCKTAIL

    The Sazerac is a New Orleans variation of a whiskey cocktail, named for the Sazerac de Forge et Fils brand of Cognac that was later replaced by rye in most recipes. Some people date its origins to before the Civil War.

    Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 3 ounces rye
  • 3/4 ounce simple syrup
  • Peychaud* bitters to taste
  • Absinthe†
  • Ice
  • Garnish: lemon twist for garnish
  •  
    *You can use other bitters, but Peychaud is the official brand for the Sazerac.

    †Absinthe has a strong licorice flavor. Absinthe is so strong that no one ever drinks it straight. In this recipe, it is used to “rinse the glass,” to add a hint of flavor. You can substitute the milder Patsis.

     

    andouille-dip-kingshawaiian-230

    A bread bowl filled with spicy andouille sausage dip. Photo courtesy King’s Hawaiian.

     

    Preparation

    1. CHILL an Old Fashioned glass by filling it with ice and letting it sit until ready to use.

    2. MUDDLE the simple syrup and Peychaud bitters in a mixing glass. Add the rye and stir with ice.

    3. DISCARD the ice in the Old Fashioned glass and rinse it with absinthe (pour a small amount into the glass, swirl it around and discarding the liquid). Strain the mixture from the mixing glass into the Old Fashioned glass.

    4. SQUEEZE a lemon twist over the drink. Traditionalists then discard the twist, but you can add it to the drink for flavor.
     
    RECIPE: ANDOUILLE DIP IN A BREAD BOWL

    This dip recipe comes from King’s Hawaiian, whose delicious sweet breads are a favorite at THE NIBBLE (here’s our review). If you don’t want to serve the dip in a bread bowl, you can serve it in a conventional bowl or keep it warm in a hot pot, on a brazier with a warming candle, etc.

    If you don’t want to dip cubes of bread, you can slice the bread and provide knives for spreading the dip.

    Ingredients

  • 8 ounces Velveeta, cubed
  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 1 Cajun-style andouille smoked pork sausage (12 ounces), cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • Raw vegetables (celery sticks, carrots, bell pepper strips), bread and crackers for dipping/spreading
  •  
    For The Bread Bowl

  • 2 loaves round bread, such as King’s Hawaiian Original Hawaiian Sweet Round Bread, or 1 round loaf and one other loaf for cubing
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CREATE a bread bowl: Carve out the center core of the round bread within two inches of the bottom and sides, keeping the shell intact. Cut the bread you’ve removed, and other loaf, into 1-inch cubes for dipping.

    2. PLACE the andouille sausage pieces into large frying pan and sauté until cooked thoroughly. Add the Velveeta and cream cheese and stir until melted. Add the Cajun seasoning; adjust to taste.

    3. POUR the dip into the bread bowl. Serve with the raw vegetables, bread cubes and toothpicks for dipping; or bread slices and a knife for spreading.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Beignets For Mardi Gras

    Celebrating the Carnival season, Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday”) has been a state holiday in Louisiana since the 19th century. So evoke Mardi Gras and New Orleans with a batch of homemade beignets.

    WHAT’S MARDI GRAS?

    The Carnival season begins on or after the Epiphany or Kings Day (January 6th) and culminates on the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday refers to the practice of eating richer, fatty foods the last night before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday.

    Mardi Gras is sometimes referred to as Shrove Tuesday, from the word shrive, meaning “confess.” But the idea of rich foods is far more appealing.

    Why “Carnival?” Centuries ago, Catholics in Italy started the tradition of holding a wild costume festival right before the first day of Lent. It stuck, engendering huge Carnival events elsewhere, including New Orleans and Rio de Janiero.

     

    pineapple-beignets-orsay-230

    Beignets should be enjoyed warm, with a cup of strong coffee. Photo courtesy Orsay | New York City.

     
    WHAT’S A BEIGNET?

    A beignet (pronounced bayn-YAY, the french word for bump) is deep-fried choux pastry dough.

    It’s a fritter similar to the German Spritzkuchen, the Italian zeppole and the Spanish churro. It can take on different shapes and flavorings depending on local preferences.

  • In New Orleans, beignets are like doughnut holes, typically sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar. They’ve caught on at stylish restaurants nationwide, which serve them as dessert with a dipping sauce.
  • In France, the term refers to a variety of fried-dough pastry shapes with fruit fillings.
  • Beignets made with yeast pastry are called Berliners Pfannkuchen in Germany (the equivalent of an American jelly doughnut) and boules de Berlin in French.
  •  
    Beignets were brought to Louisiana by the Acadians, immigrants from Canada,* whose fritters were sometimes filled with fruit. Today’s beignets are a square or round piece of dough, fried and covered with powdered sugar. The fruit (in the form of jam) is now served, optionally, on the side.

    The beignets at Café du Monde in New Orleans are worth going out of your way for (they taste best at the main location). After buying their mix and making them at home, we were unable to match the glory of the original, although we admit, we did not use cottonseed oil as they do.

    In New Orleans, the beignet is also known as the French Market doughnut, and it is the Louisiana State doughnut. (How many states have an official state doughnut?)

    At Café du Monde, beignets are served in orders of three. The cafe is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except for Christmas Day.
     
    HOW TO EAT A BEIGNET

    In New Orleans, beignets are served with the local favorite, chicory-laced coffee.

    You can enjoy them plain, with fruit curd or jam or with chocolate sauce.
     
    *The Acadians are the descendants of the 17th-century French colonists who settled in Acadia. That colony was located in what is now Eastern Canada’s Maritime provinces—New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island—as well as part of Quebec and present-day Maine to the Kennebec River. Acadia was a distinctly separate colony of New France (which became Canada); the Acadians and Québécois developed two distinct histories and cultures. (Source: Wikipedia)

     

    beignets-duplexonthird-230

    Without the confectioners’ sugar. Photo
    courtesy Duplex On Third | Los Angeles.

     

    The recipe below is from Nielsen-Massey, manufacturer of some of the finest extracts in the world, including the vanilla extract used in the recipe.

    RECIPE: VANILLA BEIGNET BITES

    Ingredients For 6 Dozen Beignets

  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE warm water, yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar n a small bowl; set aside to activate yeast. In a medium bowl, add butter, half-and-half and vanilla extract; stir and set aside. In a small bowl whisk eggs; set aside.

    2. COMBINE flour, sugar, salt and cardamom in a bowl of a free standing electric mixer. Place bowl on mixer stand which has been fitted with a dough hook. Turn mixer on low speed and combine dry ingredients. Turn mixer to medium speed then add activated yeast mixture. Add half-and-half mixture, then add the whisked eggs. Mix until well combined, scraping the sides of the bowl when necessary. Dough will be slightly sticky.

    3. PLACE dough on a lightly floured surface and knead, about 2-3 minutes; add additional flour if needed. Lightly coat a large bowl with cooking spray and place dough into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and keep warm until dough has doubled in size, about 2 hours. After dough has risen, place on a lightly floured surface and gently knead. Roll dough into a rectangle, about ¼-inch thick. With a pizza cutter, cut dough into small rectangles, about 1 x ½-inch pieces.

    4. HEAT oil to 375°F. Carefully place dough in hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 45-60 seconds. Turn beignets so that both sides are golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Dust with Vanilla Powdered Sugar (recipe below) while bites are still warm. Serve with plain, with chocolate sauce, lemon curd or raspberry jam.
     
    VANILLA POWDERED SUGAR

    Ingredients For 1/2 Cup

  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla powder
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE ingredients in a small bowl.

      

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