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Celebrate Fat Tuesday New Orleans style

Mardi Gras and beads go together like jambalya and jazz
Jodie Jacobs

Even if you don’t know French, you probably figured out that when you hear someone say Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday they are repeating themselves because Gras means fat and Mardi, well you get it.

The real question is where to find a good Hurricane or Cajun/Creole dishes if you couldn’t make it down to New Orleans, or some of the other southern towns that celebrate with food and parades. The following places are preparing traditional Fat Tuesday treats for March 4, 2014. As for New Orleans’ famed Beignets, here is a recipe.

For Shrimp Etoufee, check out Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House Tuesday, March 4. Chef Randy Waidner’s dish ($23.50) has shrimp, andouille sausage, crawfish tails and rice. Hogo’s Frog Bar & Fish House is at 1024 N. Rush St., Chicago, IL 60611. For reservations or more information call 312-640-0999 and visit Hugo's Frog Bar.

For New Orleans Jazz, Hurricanes, shrimp and sausage gumbo, Squid Po’Boy and Beignets, dine in at the Municipal Bar from 7 to 9 p.m. The Municipal Bar is at 216 W. Ohio, Chicago, IL 60654. For reservations or more information call 312-951-2125 or visit Municipal Bar.

For a Louisiana shrimp boil for $33 reserve a spot at Frontier, 7 p.m. Tuesday. Raised in New Orleans, Chef Brian Jupiter has pulled out his secret family recipes for the event. Of course there are Hurricanes and other drink specialties. Frontier is at 1072 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60642. For reservations and more information call 773-772-4322 or visit The Frontier.

For Jamablaya, Abita Brewing Co. beers and Mardi Gras beads, stop in at Newport Bar and Grill. Newport Bar and Grill is at 1344 W. Newport Ave., Chicago, IL 60657. For more information call 773-325-9111 or visit The Newport Chicago.

Or make your own Beignets and bring them in to work because the recipe makes six dozen.

This Vanilla Beignet Bites with Vanilla-Lemon Raspberry Jam recipe comes from Nielsen-Massey which is highly regarded by chefs for quality vanillas.

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 Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract
2 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cardamom

In a small bowl, combine warm water, yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar; 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.
In a bowl of a free standing electric mixer, add flour, sugar, salt and cardamom. 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.
Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead, about 2-3 minutes; adding additional flour only when 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.
Heat oil to 375°F; carefully place dough in hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 45-60 seconds. Turn beignets so both sides are golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels; dust with Vanilla Powdered Sugar while bites are still warm. Dip Vanilla Beignet Bites in Nielsen-Massey’s signature Vanilla-Lemon Raspberry Jam.

Vanilla Powdered Sugar (Yield ½ cup sugar) Ingredients
½ cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Powder

In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar and vanilla powder.

Vanilla-Lemon Raspberry Jam (Yield 1 cup jam) Ingredients
1 cup seedless raspberry jam
½ teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract
½ teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Pure Lemon Extract

In a small bowl, add jam, vanilla and lemon extracts. Whisk until jam is smooth and serve with warm Vanilla Beignet Bites. Vanilla-Lemon Raspberry Jam can be refrigerated and also served with whole grain toast, English muffins or scones.

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