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
- 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)
- In large mixing bowl combine all ingredients except cooking oil. Stir with large spoon until thick but loose batter is formed.
- In frying pan, heat cooking oil over medium-high heat.
- 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.
- 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
- Peel and remove stones from avocados. Coarsely chop avocados into 1-inch pieces and collect these in mixing bowl.
- Using a potato masher, mash chopped avocado pieces 3-4 times for guacamole that is somewhat chunky, or mash more for smoother consistency.
- 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
- 2 large purple yams
- ½ stick butter
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 quart cooking oil (corn oil or vegetable oil recommended)
- In deep pot, heat cooking oil on stovetop to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius).
- 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.
- In small saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add honey and vanilla extract, and stir until thoroughly blended.
- 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.
- 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
- 1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled with vein removed
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp Creole seasoning
- Heat frying pan over medium-high heat
- Brush shrimp with olive oil.
- Sprinkle with Creole seasoning. (For this recipe, I used seasoning made by Zatarain’s, although many spice manufacturers make a version of Creole seasoning.)
- 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.