Fleur de Lolly: Festive Mardi Gras fare and you don’t have to go to New Orleans
Laura Tolbert More Content Now
It’s almost time for one of the most lively, fun and delicious parties of the year - Mardi Gras! When you think of New Orleans, world-class food is undoubtedly at the top of the list of things that come to mind.
Zatarain’s is one of the most recognized names in Cajun and Creole food products. It was founded in 1886 as a grocery by Émile A. Zatarain. He created a formulation for root beer that became popular regionally after its introduction on May 7, 1889, at the Louisiana (Purchase) Exposition.
Currently, Zatarain’s is introducing a spicy Cajun-style smoked sausage along with Andouille sausage. Made with 100% pork and seasoned with paprika, these fully cooked smoked sausages make a quick and easy main dish. Of course, you can add either of them to any of Zatarain’s rice mixes for a fast and flavorful one-pot meal.
The recipes I’m sharing today offer a wide selection to choose from, ranging from appetizers to desserts. Plan to have a festive pre-parade brunch or a gathering of family and friends for a fun-filled evening trying these dishes. I’d like to give a huge “thank you” shout out to my friends at Zatarain’s for providing me products and recipes to enjoy and to share with all of you.
We’ll start off our day with a flavorful brunch.
• 4 cups chilled tomato juice
• 1 cup chilled vodka
• 1/4 cup prepared horseradish, drained
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1 to 2 tablespoons Zatarain’s Cajun Hot Sauce
• 1 teaspoon Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning
• 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
Stir all ingredients in a large pitcher until well blended. Moisten the rims of the glasses with a lemon slice. Pour a small amount of Creole seasoning into a shallow saucer. Place the rim of the glasses, one at a time, into the seasoning to coat the edge. Fill glasses with ice and carefully pour in the Bloody Mary.
Pickled okra, green olives, cooked shrimp, celery stalks, with leaves attached, lemon or line wedges
SPICY JAMBALAYA BREAKFAST CASSEROLE
While the thought of jambalaya for breakfast may seem a little out of the ordinary, this is a fun twist on the reliable breakfast casserole that we’ve all enjoyed for years. For easy prep, prepare the jambalaya mix the night before and assemble the next morning.
• 1 package Zatarain’s Jambalaya Mix
• 1 pound Zatarain’s andouille sausage, coarsely chopped
• 8 eggs, lightly beaten
• 2 cups half-and-half
• 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
• 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
• 1/4 cup chopped green onions
Prepare jambalaya mix as directed on package, using the smoked sausage in place of the ham. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix eggs and half-and-half in large bowl until well mixed. Add cheese, bell pepper and onions; mix until well blended. Set aside. Spread rice mixture evenly in bottom of a greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Pour egg mixture over the top. Bake 30 minutes or until eggs are set. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE BUTTERMILK BISCUITS
These breakfast treats aren’t your typical ground sausage patties. Thick slices of andouille sausage are browned in the skillet and are the perfect partner for these delicious buttermilk biscuits. For the finishing touch, add a touch of Creole mustard.
• 1 package Zatarain’s Buttermilk Biscuit Mix
• 1 cup milk
• 8 tablespoons butter, melted
• Andouille sausage
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet lightly with no-stick cooking spray. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the melted butter for brushing tops of cooked biscuits.
Stir together biscuit mix, milk and remaining 6 tablespoons of melted butter in a large bowl for 3 minutes or until mixture forms a soft dough. Drop dough by quarter cupfuls, about 2 inches apart, onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake 12 to 14 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush tops of biscuits with reserved melted butter.
While the biscuits are baking, slice sausage in half lengthwise, then into 3-inch-long pieces. Cook sausages on both sides in a large skillet, over medium-high heat, until well browned. Remove from the skillet onto a paper towel-lined plate.
When biscuits are ready, carefully slice open and fill with the sausage slices. Top sausage slices with Creole mustard if desired.
How about some appetizer ideas for your dinner party?
SAVORY SHRIMP BEIGNETS WITH REMOULADE SAUCE
• 1 3/4 cups flour
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1 tablespoon Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning
• 1 1/4 cups whole milk
• 1 large egg
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
• 1/2 pound cooked shrimp, coarsely chopped
• 2 green onions, chopped
• Vegetable oil, for frying
• 1/3 cup mayonnaise
• 1/4 cup sour cream
• 2 tablespoons Zatarain’s Creole Mustard
• 2 tablespoons capers, coarsely chopped
• 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
• 1 teaspoon Zatarain’s Cajun Hot Sauce
• 1 teaspoon lemon juice
• 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl until well blended. Cover. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
For the beignets, mix flour, baking powder and Creole seasoning with a whisk in a large bowl. Add milk and egg; mix just until moistened. Whisk in melted butter until smooth. Gently stir in shrimp and green onions. Let batter stand for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.
Pour 2 inches of oil in a large Dutch oven. Heat to 350 degrees on medium heat. Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls, a few at a time, into the hot oil. Fry the beignets for 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp, and then drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Serve beignets with Remoulade Sauce.
CRAB CAKES WITH CREOLE MUSTARD SAUCE
• 1 egg
• 1 package Zatarain’s Crab Cake Mix
• 2/3 cup mayonnaise
• 1 pound fresh crab meat
• 1 tablespoon oil
Beat egg in a large bowl, and add crab cake mix and mayonnaise. Mix until well blended. Add crab meat and toss gently until well mixed. Shape mixture into 8 patties. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add four crab cakes and fry for about 4 minutes per side until golden brown and cooked through. The internal temperature should be 165 degrees. Repeat with remaining crab cakes, adding 1 tablespoon additional oil if needed.
If you’d like, add 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion or bell pepper to crab mixture before forming into patties.
For the sauce:
• 3/4 cup mayonnaise
• 1/3 cup Zatarain’s Creole Mustard
• 2 tablespoons honey
Combine all ingredients and refrigerate until serving.
CREOLE MUSTARD DEVILED EGGS
The Creole mustard in the filling and the Creole seasoning on top add a nice little kick. A little Fleur de Lolly secret here: You know when you make stuffed eggs, and there doesn’t ever seem to be enough filling to make beautiful, sky-high filled whites? Here’s the secret to resolving that problem. For each half-dozen eggs you cook, boil an extra one. Finely chop the whites into the filling mixture when you mash up the yolks. Instant extra filling!
• 7 hard-boiled eggs
• 1/4 cup mayonnaise
• 2 to 2 tablespoons Creole mustard
• 1 tablespoon dill (or sweet) pickle relish
• Creole seasoning
Peel eggs and carefully slice in half. Remove the yolks to a medium bowl. Place the white halves on your egg plate. With the remaining egg, finely chop the whites and add to the bowl. Mash yolks with a fork until smooth.
Add mayonnaise, mustard and pickle relish. Stir to combine and taste. You want the filling to be thick enough to fill the whites without spreading everywhere. If you use extra-large eggs, you’ll need a little more mayo/mustard than if you use small eggs. Adjust amounts accordingly.
Using a spoon, gently fill the whites piling the filling high. You can do this because you have extra filling! Lightly sprinkle the tops of the eggs with Creole seasoning. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Now it’s time to get to enjoy a variety of main course dishes!
RED BEANS AND RICE
This dish is so ingrained in New Orleans history that it has a designated day to be served. Monday was traditionally laundry day, and therefore a big pot of red beans could simmer all day while the washing was being done. This recipe is ready in a fraction of the time.
• 3 cups water
• 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
• 1 package Zatarain’s Red Beans and Rice
• 1/2 pound Zatarain’s Cajun Smoked Sausage, sliced half-inch thick
Mix all ingredients in a 3-quart saucepan until well blended. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 25 minutes, or until rice is tender. Stir occasionally to prevent the rice and beans from sticking. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with fork before serving.
SAUSAGE GUMBO WITH CREOLE MUSTARD POTATO SALAD
There are many versions of gumbo with either chicken, sausage or seafood as the primary protein. Gumbo contains ingredients and culinary practices of several cultures, including African, French, Spanish, German and Native American. Okra sometimes is added as a thickener. By using Zatarain’s Gumbo Mix as the base, you’ll save time and, of course, you can add your fresh ingredients to make it homemade. Here’s my recipe.
• 6 cups water
• 1 box Zatarain’s Gumbo Mix
• 1 pound Zatarain’s Andouille Sausage, sliced into half-inch pieces
• 1 yellow onion, chopped
• 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
• 3 ribs celery
• 4 cups sliced fresh or frozen okra
• Chopped parsley for garnish
Mix the water and gumbo mix in a 5-quart Dutch oven. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low.
While the liquid comes to a boil, add sausage and vegetables (except for the okra) to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, frequently stirring, until sausage is browned and vegetables have begun to soften, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add to the simmering liquid in the Dutch oven.
Cover and simmer for 25 minutes, until the rice is tender. Halfway through the cooking time, add the okra.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped parsley. Many people in Louisiana enjoy potato salad served alongside their gumbo.
CREOLE MUSTARD POTATO SALAD
If you like your potato salad with a big mustard flavor, you will enjoy this version. The use of Yukon Gold potatoes lends a gorgeous golden color to this salad.
• 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into large cubes, simmered in salted water until tender and drained
• 3 boiled eggs, roughly chopped
• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• 1/4 cup (or more!) Zatarain’s Creole Mustard
• 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
• 1/4 cup dill or sweet pickle relish
• Chopped parsley for garnish
In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and mustard. Stir in bell pepper and pickle relish until well combined.
Fold in potato cubes and chopped boiled eggs. Taste to determine if you need to add a little salt. The mayo, mustard and pickles will all contain salt. Garnish with parsley.
Our family certainly enjoyed this recipe. The combination of the vegetables, smoked sausage and shrimp with fun-shaped pasta is a great one-pot meal.
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 1 package (14 ounces) smoked sausage, sliced 1/4-inch-thick
• 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
• 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
• 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
• 32 ounces chicken stock
• 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) petite diced tomatoes, undrained
• 8 ounces uncooked pasta, such as fusilli
• 2 teaspoons Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning
• 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
Heat oil in a large deep skillet on medium-high heat. Add sausage; cook and stir 5 minutes or until browned. Add onion, bell pepper and celery; cook and stir 5 minutes, or until softened.
Add stock and tomatoes; bring to boil, stirring to release browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Stir in pasta. Cook 15 to 20 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally.
Stir in Creole seasoning and shrimp. Reduce heat to low; cook and stir 4 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Sprinkle with parsley and additional Creole seasoning, if desired.
CREOLE MUSTARD FRIED CATFISH AND HUSH PUPPIES WITH CREAMY CREOLE SLAW
Who doesn’t love crispy fried fish? The Creole mustard gives a zip of flavor, and the dry batter provides a delicious crispy coating.
• Vegetable oil, for frying
• 1/2 cup milk
• 1 1/2 tablespoons Zatarain’s Creole Mustard
• Juice of 1/2 lemon
• 1 1/2 pounds catfish fillets
• 3/4 cup Zatarain’s Fish-Fri Crispy Cajun
• Ground black pepper
• Zatarain’s Cajun Hot Sauce
Pour oil into a deep heavy skillet, filling no more than 1/3 full. Heat on medium-high heat to 375 degrees.
Mix milk, Creole mustard and lemon juice in a shallow dish. Dip fish into the mustard mixture, then coat with Fish-Fri. Carefully add to hot oil, a few pieces at a time
Fry 4 to 6 minutes until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with black pepper just before serving. Serve with hot sauce and lemon slices, if desired.
CREAMY CREOLE SLAW
I love to experiment with different versions of coleslaw. It’s almost a requirement to have slaw as the side dish for catfish. This recipe incorporates the same flavor profile that is used to season the catfish.
• 2/3 cup mayonnaise
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1 tablespoon vinegar
• 2 teaspoons Zatarain’s Creole Mustard
• 1/2 teaspoon French’s Classic Worcestershire Sauce
• 1/4 teaspoon Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning
• 1 dash Zatarain’s Cajun Hot Sauce
• 1 package (14 ounces) shredded coleslaw mix
• 1 green onion, thinly sliced
Mix mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, Creole mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Creole seasoning and hot sauce in a large bowl. Add coleslaw mix; toss to coat thoroughly. Cover.
Refrigerate 1 hour or until ready to serve. Stir before serving. Sprinkle with green onion.
At last! We’ve reached the dessert portion of our meal. Remember, I mentioned that the first product that Zatarain’s sold was root beer extract? Both of our dessert dishes include that very ingredient.
BREAD PUDDING WITH ROOT BEER CARAMEL SAUCE
It’s almost impossible to dine in a restaurant in New Orleans and not see bread pudding on the menu. French bread quickly goes stale. This dessert is an excellent way to keep from having that goodness go to waste.
• 1 loaf stale French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
• 1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
• 2 cups sugar
• 3 tablespoons vanilla extract
• Pinch of ground nutmeg
• 7 eggs, beaten
• 2 tablespoons brandy
• 2 cups milk
• 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
• 1/4 cup raisins
Grease an 8-by-10-inch baking dish and place bread cubes into the bottom. In a large mixing bowl, combine the next seven ingredients. Mix in the pecans. Allow the bread mixture to soak for at least 15 minutes, pressing down on the bread occasionally.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle the raisins on top of the bread pudding and bake until golden and puffed, about 45 minutes. Serve with Root Beer Caramel Sauce and a dusting of powdered sugar, if desired.
For the Root Beer Caramel Sauce
• 1 cup dark brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon Zatarain’s Root Beer Concentrate
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Combine the brown sugar and root beer concentrate in a saucepot over medium-high heat. Cook, frequently stirring, until the sugar is melted. Reduce the heat to medium and gradually whisk in the heavy cream, and cook until reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes. Add the butter and cinnamon and cook until heated through.
KING CAKE CUPCAKES
Instead of a traditional king cake, these cupcakes are sure to be a hit with the kids in attendance. Traditionally, the “baby” is hidden in the cake. The guest who receives the baby is required to purchase the next king cake.
• 1 1/4 cups cake flour
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/8 teaspoons salt
• 1 stick butter, softened
• 3/4 cup granulated sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 eggs
• 3/4 cup milk
For the frosting:
• 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
• 1/2 stick butter, softened
• 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon Zatarain’s Root Beer Concentrate
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. For the cupcakes, mix flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Beat butter in a large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds, or until softened. Add granulated sugar and vanilla; beat until light and fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl frequently. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Alternately beat in flour mixture and milk on medium-low speed just until mixed. Spoon batter into 12 lightly greased or paper-lined muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full.
Bake 12 to 14 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely.
For the frosting, beat cream cheese and butter in a large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add confectioners’ sugar and root beer concentrate; beat until fluffy. Set aside.
Make an indentation in the center of each cupcake using the handle of a wooden spoon or a straw, making sure not to break through the bottom of the cupcake. Spread a small amount of frosting into each cupcake. Pipe remaining frosting onto each cupcake. Sprinkle with purple, green and gold sugar, if desired.
Laura Tolbert, also known as Fleur de Lolly, has been sharing recipes, table decor ideas and advice for fellow foodies and novices on her blog, fleurdelolly.blogspot.com, for more than eight years. She won the Duke’s Mayonnaise 100th Anniversary nationwide recipe contest for her Alabama White BBQ Sauce. You can contact her at facebook.com/fleurde.lolly.5, on Instagram, and at email@example.com.