Mardi Gras Celebration

Colorful street festivals and all-night parties document Mardi Gras in much of the hemisphere. Your celebration might be quieter - but just as delicious!

By FamilyTime


What fun it would be to travel to New Orleans or Rio to celebrate the Mardi Gras Carnival. The costumes, the music, the revelry, the food, the drink! You could dance in the streets and welcome the rosy dawn with other partiers.

For most of us, this is a fantasy. Even if a trip to Louisiana is not in our cards -- much less one to Brazil -- it does not mean we can't mark this pre-Lent last-blast in style. Invite friends over to indulge in a Mardi Gras feast.

Set the dinner table festively with jewel tones. Strew it with beads and confetti and let the party begin

Get Off to a Good Start
We start the meal with an oyster and cream cheese roll perfect for serving on crispy little toasts or your favorite crackers. Try pepper crackers for a little zip.

Oysters are great favorites in New Orleans all year long, and especially during big celebrations such as Mardi Gras. For this recipe, you need canned smoked oysters - not fresh ones - so finding and working with them is easy.

If you decide not to make the oyster roll, serve the smoked oysters as they come from the can on crackers or stabbed with toothpicks.

Don't forget cocktails, crisp white wine, Champagne, or beer. Partiers in New Orleans tend to indulge in potent cocktails such as hurricanes, rum punches, and margaritas.

The Main Course
Seafood is the order of the day in New Orleans - and why not? The below-sea level city is near the Gulf of Mexico and directly on the mighty Mississippi River. Plus, nearby bayous are fertile ground for fish and seafood.

For this reason, we suggest serving a shrimp étouffée for the main course. This classic thick Cajun stew is very often made with crayfish (popular and plentiful in Lousisiana), but can be made with just about any seafood.

Its base is the traditional Cajun and Creole roux - a mixture of flour and fat - that is cooked until it darkens. This provides the color and the base of the stew, which after slow cooking, is spooned over hot, steaming white rice.

Serve the étouffée with a fresh green salad dressed with tangy, citrus-and-tomato-based dressing. It's made with a hot pepper for zing, and chopped green and black olives for texture and flavor.

Cornbread or a loaf of bakery-fresh French bread goes well with the meal. The rice serves as a substantial complex carbohydrate and so bread is not necessary - but it always tastes good.

The Meal's End
King cakes are traditional Mardi Gras fare. They're ever-present food during Carnival, served in honor of a mock Mardi Gras king and queen.

Traditionally, they are sweet yeast breads, coated in colored sugar or icing and baked with a plastic toy baby inside. Whoever finds the "baby" is expected to provide the king cakes for next year's celebration

Ours are quite different. They are moist, tender cupcakes baked with candies in the center. Wholly and deliciously edible, the king cake cupcakes are just right to serve with after-dinner coffee.

Residents of the Crescent City are coffee aficionados. They drink rich, dark coffee day and night at sidewalk cafes and coffee bars. Serve it with the king cakes to end your Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans-style.