Happy Mardi Gras / Fat Tuesday / Shrove Tuesday / Pancake Day / Carnivale / Super Tuesday everybody! I want to dedicate this post to the wonderful Kittee, a.k.a. Cake Maker to the Stars. As you know, she lives in New Orleans and when she heard me complain about not being able to find certain key ingredients for cooking a Mardi Gras feast, she sent me the most amazing care package! Behold:
- Zapps potato chips (what other brand of chips do you know that makes a (vegan) flavor called 'Cajun crawtator'??)
- Tony Chachere's seasoning (the flavor can't be duplicated)
- Camellia field peas and red beans (for authentic New Orleans red beans and rice, of course)
- Zatarain's crab boil seasoning (to make a nice vegan boil with potatoes, corn, what have you)
- Zatarain's root beer extract (just, wow!)
The gumbo called for Julie Hasson's Italian sausage recipe from Everyday Dish, which was wonderful, because after reading everyone rave about these on their blogs, this recipe was something I'd been wanting to try. And you know what? These sausages were really really good. Not only was the flavor wonderful, but more importantly, the texture was just right- chewy without being rubbery, tender without being spongy. Seitan success!
The gumbo came out great, chock full of Tony Chachere's and Tabasco sauce, bursting with flavor. It wasn't too thick, but because of the okra and the roux, it had real body. Daiku, who used to live in New Orleans, loved it as well.
The funnest part of today, however, was baking the king cake! Traditionally, a baby Jesus (king) figure is baked into the cake. Whoever gets the slice with the baby (or bean, as some people use) has to bake the king cake for next year's party. Since my baby is made of plastic, I couldn't bake it, and it didn't matter, since it was just the two of us tonight anyway. Instead, I let the baby hang out on top of the cake and check out the action.
Here's an inside shot - I added some bourbon-soaked raisins to the cream cheese / cinnamon sugar filling, and they complemented the orange zest and vanilla of the cake perfectly. You have got to try this recipe, I don't care that Mardi Gras is over!
In keeping with the spirit of the holiday, here's a bonus: pumpkin bread pudding with bourbon sauce. This bread pudding recipe, from Fatfree Vegan, is one I'd been wanting to try for ages. This weekend, Daiku and I had to take dessert to a party we were going to, so I finally got the opportunity. The best part about this dish is that it's made in the crock pot, so we got to plug it in at our friends' house to ensure that it could be served warm. The bourbon sauce is an invention of Daiku's, veganizing something that usually calls for butter, cream, and egg yolk in addition to bourbon and sugar. He used soy cream, sugar, Earth Balance, vanilla, and bourbon, and thickened the sauce with a bit of cornstarch. This was a really addictive sauce, and perfect to bring out the mild flavors of the bread pudding.
Whether you were celebrating Fat Tuesday or Super Tuesday today (or both, like me) I hope you had a great time. And a delicious one, too.
Here's my Mardi Gras post from last year!