In Honor of Mardi Gras, a Colorful Recip-aieee!

Photo credit: Anthony Beal

If you’re still with me after the horrible pun in this entry’s title, then congratulations.  You are a trouper, and I salute you.

So it’s Fat Tuesday today, and much to my sorrow, I’m not writing this from within a country mile of New Orleans.  I’m not pounding Hurricanes or slouching over wrought iron French Quarter balcony railings, doing things best left unshared in exchange for strings of colored beads.  I most certainly am not tapping my foot, enjoying live zydeco music in a dimly-lit establishment where Happy Hour began at 11 this morning.  In years past, I have lived these dreams, but sadly, not this year.

What I’ve done instead to honor Mardi Gras from over a thousand miles away is create the meal pictured above.  Wearing the colors of the Mardi Gras King Cake, Seared Creole-seasoned Shrimp rest on a bed of Sweet Corn Fritters (gold), Guacamole (green), and Fried Purple Yams (purple, obviously.) Recipes follow below.

Sweet Corn Fritters

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Maseca instant corn flour
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/3 cups water
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 ½ cups sweet yellow corn
  • 4 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • Cooking oil (enough to cover the bottom of a skillet or frying pan)

Directions:

  1. In large mixing bowl combine all ingredients except cooking oil.  Stir with large spoon until thick but loose batter is formed.
  2. In frying pan, heat cooking oil over medium-high heat.
  3. Place 1-2 tablespoons of batter into hot, oiled pan and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side.  This recipe yields enough batter for six to eight 4- to 5-inch wide fritters.

Guacamole

Ingredients:

  • 3 Haas avocados
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup minced onion
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
  • 1/8  tsp ground cumin

Directions:

  1. Peel and remove stones from avocados.  Coarsely chop avocados into 1-inch pieces and collect these in mixing bowl.
  2. Using a potato masher, mash chopped avocado pieces 3-4 times for guacamole that is somewhat chunky, or mash more for smoother consistency.
  3. Add diced tomato, lime juice, cilantro, salt, red pepper flakes, onion, white pepper, and ground cumin to bowl.  Using large spoon, mix until all ingredients are thoroughly blended.  Refrigerate for 1 hour, then serve.  Serves six to eight.

Fried Purple Yam Chips

Ingredients:

  • 2 large purple yams
  • ½ stick butter
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 quart cooking oil (corn oil or vegetable oil recommended)

Directions:

  1. In deep pot, heat cooking oil on stovetop to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius).
  2. Cut purple yams crosswise into thin slices no thicker than a quarter-inch.  Arrange cut slices on plate and cover with damp paper towel to prevent them from drying out and losing their color.
  3. In small saucepan, melt butter over low heat.  Add honey and vanilla extract, and stir until thoroughly blended.
  4. Fry slices in small batches (6-8 chips at a time) in hot oil for 2-4 minutes, then remove from oil and allow to drain in a single layer on paper towel.
  5. After cooked chips are removed from oil, brush with vanilla-honey butter and serve while still warm. Serves four to six.

Seared Creole-Seasoned Shrimp

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled with vein removed
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Creole seasoning

Directions:

  1. Heat frying pan over medium-high heat
  2. Brush shrimp with olive oil.
  3. Sprinkle with Creole seasoning. (For this recipe, I used seasoning made by Zatarain’s, although many spice manufacturers make a version of Creole seasoning.)
  4. Place seasoned shrimp in hot frying pan and sear on each side for 1 to 2 minutes or until shrimp flesh turns pink.  Serves four to six.
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