Tuesday, March 1, 2011

It's Carnival Time & Everybody's ... Hungry!

Carnival is in full swing. Friends riding in parades are posting their float numbers and positions on Facebook. Family & friends are plotting and planning on who will secure the coveted spots on either the neutral ground or the sidewalk side. And everybody is talking about what they're going to cook/eat to sustain them from Friday at 5 p.m. through Tuesday evening!

Everybody has their personal favorites and traditions for the big Carnival weekend. Here are a few recipes for some traditional Carnival fare that is sure to please (and sustain) a house full of Mardi Gras revelers. Julia Reed likes John Besh's red beans & rice. Traditional grillades & grits is one of my all-time favorites. Add a good bananas foster bread pudding and the feast is complete.

Of course, a proper Mardi Gras food spread must include a selection of cocktails. Bloody Mary's are a universal favorite. For those who like some sugar with their wallop, here is the recipe for the famous Brandy Milk Punch from Commander's Palace:


Brandy Milk Punch is a smooth drink that helps soothe that morning-after feeling.


1 ½ cups milk

½ cup heavy cream

12 ounces Bourbon whiskey

1 egg white (optional)

½ cup sugar

½ cup ice cold water

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

nutmeg, to taste

Combine the milk, cream, bourbon, egg white, sugar, water, and vanilla in a large pitcher. Stir well, or, if you have a lid, shake. Serve in rocks glasses and sprinkle each cocktail with some nutmeg.

Explaining Carnival to those not from here presents its challenges. More often than not, Carnival gets lost in translation. For more on the fascinating history of Carnival, the Louisiana State Museum and the Historic New Orleans Collection are terrific resources.