February

NO!!!   I am not doing a Valentines Day Tea!!!

 

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m a little burned out on Valentines Day.  It’s getting like Christmas – the decorations start coming out in January.  AND I really don’t like the idea of telling men they only have to be romantic on one day of the year.    SO…. What else comes in February?

 

Something that would be more fun, more creative, and certainly more colorful…

 

Something that is on February 13th this year.

 


Something like….

 

 

1

 

Origins of Mardi Gras

According to historians, Mardi Gras dates back thousands of years to pagan celebrations of spring and fertility, including the raucous Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia. When Christianity arrived in Rome, religious leaders decided to incorporate these popular local traditions into the new faith, an easier task than abolishing them altogether. As a result, the excess and debauchery of the Mardi Gras season became a prelude to Lent, the 40 days of penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Along with Christianity, Mardi Gras spread from Rome to other European countries, including France, Germany, Spain and England.

 

Mardi Gras in the United States

Many historians believe that the first American Mardi Gras took place on March 3, 1699, when the French explorers Iberville and Bienville landed in what is now Louisiana, just south of the holiday’s future epicenter: New Orleans. They held a small celebration and dubbed the spot Point du Mardi Gras. In the decades that followed, New Orleans and other French settlements began marking the holiday with street parties, masked balls and lavish dinners. When the Spanish took control of New Orleans, however, they abolished these rowdy rituals, and the bans remained in force until Louisiana became a U.S. state in 1812.

On Mardi Gras in 1827, a group of students donned colorful costumes and danced through the streets of New Orleans, emulating the revelry they’d observed while visiting Paris. Ten years later, the first recorded New Orleans Mardi Gras parade took place, a tradition that continues to this day. In 1857, a secret society of New Orleans businessmen called the Mistick Krewe of Comus organized a torch-lit Mardi Gras procession with marching bands and rolling floats, setting the tone for future public celebrations in the city. Since then, Krewes have remained a fixture of the Carnival scene throughout Louisiana. Other lasting customs include throwing beads and other trinkets, wearing masks, decorating floats and eating King Cake.

Louisiana is the only state in which Mardi Gras is a legal holiday.

 

So let’s get on to some fun Mardi Gras tea ideas…

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Mardi Gras Tea

 

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Brown Sugar and Cream Cheese Scones

Yield: 12 • Bake: approximately 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold salted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons cold heavy whipping cream, divided
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Garnish: turbinado sugar

Instructions

1.    Preheat oven to 350°.

2.    Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

3.    In a large bowl, combine flour,
brown sugar, baking powder, and salt, whisking well. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add cream cheese, stirring to combine, but leave in cubes.

4.    In a liquid-measuring cup, combine
 ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon cream and vanilla extract, stirring to blend. Add to flour mixture, stirring until mixture is evenly moist. (If dough seems dry, add more cream, 1 tablespoon at a time.) Working gently, bring mixture together with hands until a dough forms.

5.    Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently 4 to 5 times. Using a rolling pin, roll dough to a ¾-inch thickness. Using a 2¼-inch fluted round cutter, cut 12 scones from dough. Place scones 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Brush tops of scones with remaining 1 tablespoon cream.

6.    Garnish tops of scones with turbinado sugar, if desired.

7.    Bake until edges are golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in the centers comes out clean, approximately 20 minutes.

8.    Serve warm.

Notes

Recommended Condiments: Clotted Cream, Strawberry Jam

 

Jambalaya Tartlets

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Yield:12

Ingredients

  • 1½ (14.1-ounce) packages refrigerated pie dough (3 sheets)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼cup chopped sweet onion
  • ¼ cup chopped green bell pepper
  • ¼cup chopped celery
  • ½ cup chopped chicken thigh meat
  • ½cup chopped Andouille sausage
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • ½ cup chopped seeded tomato
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning*
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 dozen medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, with tails on
  • Garnish: minced fresh parsley, 12 fresh parsley leaves

Instructions

1.    Preheat oven to 450°.

2.    On a lightly floured surface, unroll pie dough. Using a 4½-x-2
¼-inch tartlet pan as a guide, cut 12 shapes from dough. Lightly spray 12 tartlet pans with cooking spray. Press dough shapes into prepared tartlet pans, trimming excess as necessary. Using the large end of a chopstick, press dough into indentations in sides of tartlet pans.

3.    Place tartlet pans on a rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

4.    Prick tartlet dough with a fork to prevent puffing during baking.

5.    Bake until golden brown, approximately 7 minutes. Let cool completely.

6.    Remove from tartlet pans, and store in an airtight container until needed.

7.    In a large nonstick sauté pan, 
heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, celery, chicken, and sausage. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until vegetables are tender, stirring often. Add chicken broth, rice, tomato, bay leaf, garlic, Creole seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, salt, and black pepper, stirring to combine. Increase heat, and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover pan, and cook until rice is done, 15 to 20 minutes. Add shrimp to pan during the last 5 minutes of cooking time. (Shrimp are done when pink and opaque.)

8.    Spoon warm rice mixture into tart shells, arranging shrimp decoratively on top.

9.    Garnish each with minced parsley and a parsley leaf, if desired.

10.  Serve immediately.

Notes

Make Ahead Tip: Jambalaya can 
be made a day in advance, placed in a covered container, and refrigerated. Warm gently before filling tartlet shells. Tartlet shells can be made early on the day they are to be used.

 

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Muffuletta Palmiers

Yield: 13

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry
  • ¹⁄³ cup muffaletta salad, well drained
  • ¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup shredded provolone cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped genoa salami
  • 3 tablespoons chopped capicola ham
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon water

Instructions

1.    Preheat oven to 400°.

2.    Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

3.    Let puff pastry sheet thaw slightly but not completely. (Puff pastry will be easier to work with if it is slightly firm.)

4.    Blot muffaletta salad on paper towels to remove excess oil. Spread evenly over puff pastry, leaving a 1-inch border on each short side. Scatter cheeses over salad, and scatter meats over cheese.

5.    Firmly roll up both short sides of puff pastry, meeting in the center. Using a serrated knife, cut ½-inch slices, and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet.

6.    In a small bowl, combine egg and water, whisking to blend. Using a pastry brush, brush slices with egg wash.

8.    Bake until golden brown, approximately 15 minutes.

9.    Serve immediately.

 

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Dilled Crawfish Salad Tea Sandwiches

Yield: 16

Ingredients

  • 8 slices potato bread, frozen
  • 2 cups finely chopped cooked crawfish meat
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced dill
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Garnish: 48 capers, fresh dill sprigs

Instructions

1.    Using a 1¾-inch round cutter, cut 32 shapes from frozen bread, discarding scraps. Place bread rounds in a resealable plastic bag to prevent drying out.

2.    In a medium bowl, combine crawfish, mayonnaise, capers, minced dill, celery, lemon zest, lemon juice, and pepper, stirring to blend.

3.    Cover, and refrigerate until cold, approximately 4 hours. Divide crawfish salad among 16 bread rounds, spreading evenly. Top each with another bread round.

4.    Garnish each with 3 capers and a dill sprig, if desired.

Notes

Sandwiches can be made earlier in the day, covered with damp paper towels, placed in an airtight container, and refrigerated. Garnish just before serving.

2

Mardi Gras King Cake

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Yield: 1 (9-inch) cake (8 to 12 servings)

Ingredients

  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 (.25-ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • cup warm (110°) water
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped toasted pecans
  • ¼ cup chopped golden raisins
  • ¼ cup salted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Garnish: green, purple, and gold sugars

Instructions

1.    In a small saucepan, heat milk until very hot but not boiling. Remove pan from heat, and add 2 tablespoons butter, stirring until melted. Let mixture cool to room temperature.

2.    In a large bowl, combine yeast, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and warm water. Let stand until mixture is very foamy, approximately 10 minutes. Add cooled milk mixture, stirring well. Add egg, whisking to combine. Add remaining 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, stirring to blend.

3.    In a medium bowl, combine 2¾ cups flour, salt, nutmeg, and allspice, whisking well. Add flour mixture to milk mixture, stirring until incorporated.

4.    On a lightly floured surface, knead dough by hand until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. (Alternatively, use a mixer with a dough-hook attachment, according to manufacturer’s instructions.)

5.    Lightly oil a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, turning to coat with oil. Cover bowl with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm (85°), draft-free place until doubled in volume, approximately 1½ hours. While dough is rising, make filling mixture.

6.    In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, pecans, remaining ¼ cup flour, raisins, melted butter, and cinnamon, stirring to combine.

7.    Preheat oven to 350°.

8.    Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

9.    Once dough has risen, push down to deflate, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll into a 16-x-10-inch rectangle. Sprinkle filling over dough, leaving a 1-inch border on both long sides. Starting at one long side, roll up tightly, jelly-roll fashion. Bring ends of dough roll together and pinch to create a seal, shaping dough into a ring. Place on prepared baking sheet.

10.    Using scissors, make cuts at even intervals around dough ring, cutting one-third of the way through dough to filling. Cover lightly with plastic wrap, and let rise again until doubled in size, approximately 45 minutes.

11.   Bake until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool slightly before transferring to a wire cooling rack.

12.    In a small bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar and water, whisking until smooth. Spread glaze over slightly warm king cake.

13.    Garnish with colored sugars, if desired.

14.    Serve immediately, or store in a covered container at room temperature.

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Toasted Pecan Pralines

Yield: 20

Ingredients

  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ¾ cup chopped toasted pecans

Instructions

1.    Line 20 wells of a 24-well mini muffin pan with foil baking cups.

2.    In a heavy-bottom medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, granulated sugar, cream, butter, and water, stirring to blend. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until mixture registers just below 238° on a candy thermometer. Remove pan from heat, and add pecans, stirring vigorously to cool mixture slightly.

3.    Working quickly and using a levered 1-tablespoon scoop, divide pecan mixture among prepared wells of mini muffin pan. Let cool completely.

4.    Store pralines in an airtight container at room temperature.

5.    Remove from foil baking cups before serving, if desired.


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Bananas Foster Tartlets

Yield: 8

Ingredients

  • ½ cup mascarpone cheese
  • ½ cup canned caramel milk (dulce de leche)
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 (3.15-inch) shortbread tart shells
  • 3 bananas
  • ½ cup vanilla ice cream
  • Garnish: fresh mint

Instructions

1.    In a small bowl, combine mascarpone and caramel milk. Beat at medium-high speed with a mixer until smooth and creamy.

2.    In a small sauté pan, combine butter, brown sugar, dark rum, water, cinnamon, and salt over medium heat, and cook, stirring until butter and sugar melt and mixture is blended. Add vanilla extract, stirring well. Keep warm over very low heat.

3.    Spread mascarpone mixture into bottom of tart shells, smoothing top to create a level surface. Slice bananas thinly and shingle in a circle on top of mascarpone mixture. Spoon warm brown sugar sauce over bananas. Top with a scoop of ice cream.

4.    Garnish with fresh mint, if desired.

5.    Serve immediately.

 

 Now common’…. don’t those look GREAT!  And creative and colorful ?

And easy to decorate….  tons of cheap beads on eBay

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And for those who just must….

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And if you want to try the true New Orleans drink…

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The Sazerac

Essentially New Orleans' version of the the classic whiskey cocktail (whiskey, water, bitters, sugar), the sazerac has been around since the middle of the 19th century. It is named after a brand of cognac called Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils, which was the original liquor used to make the drink. The modern version, which uses rye whisky instead of cognac, is the classic sort of cocktail that conjures a bunch of hardened newspaper men talking horse racing results in a smoke-filled pool hall. That is to say, it's not a drink for the faint of heart. But if you love a good whisky cocktail, especially one that's topped off with a splash of absinthe, then the sazerac is tough to beat.

Ingredients

Yields: 1

2 1/2 oz. rye whisky

1 sugar cube

2 dashes Peychaud's bitters

1 dash Angostura Bitters

absinthe

lemon peel

old-fashioned glass

Directions


  1. In an Old-Fashioned glass (not a mixing glass; it's part of the ritual), muddle a sugar cube with a few drops of water.
  2. Add several small ice cubes and the rye whiskey, the Peychaud's bitters, and the Angostura bitters.
  3. Stir well and strain into a second, chilled, Old-Fashioned glass in which you have rolled around a few drops of absinthe until its inside is thoroughly coated, pouring off the excess.
  4. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel


                                                                     © Michelle Young 2012