Monday, February 8, 2010

Laissez Le Bon Temps Rouler!

Whew, that was one fun Super Bowl party and a well deserved one after a marathon cooking session yesterday afternoon. And while I am not a Saints fan during the regular season, I certainly was rooting for them last night. But most of all, I was excited for the excuse to add some Cajun dishes to my cooking repertoire. So to cheer the Saints to victory, I decided to make Gumbo and a King Cake.

So the gumbo turned out the best of the two recipes. I adapted Bittman's Scallop Gumbo recipe from the New York Times to include local shrimp and spicy sausage. I had another frustrating Bittman experience because the roux (2 T. butter, 1/4 c. oil and 1/3 c. flour) never thickened. I cooked that sucker for a good 15 minutes before I started adding flour by the tablespoon. While it did achieve a nice peanut butter color, it never thickened up too much. But I went ahead with the recipe anyway, and then was frustrated again when I found the final gumbo to be TOO thick. Sigh.

But I got it all sorted out in the end and much to my delight, everyone loved it! Thanks everyone for raving about the gumbo and making me forget all my Bittman-induced anger.

Now for the dessert, I turned to John Besh whose Mardi Gras menu is featured on Epicurious right now. The man must know his stuff, being a James Beard winning NOLA chef, right? But I found this King Cake recipe to be a little disappointing. But before I throw Besh under the bus, I must admit that there is always room for user error.

The dough was off to a promising start- it was smooth and elastic, smelled wonderful and had 5 egg yolks in it. Good, right?

Thanks to A. for the use of her kitchen and for this beautiful braiding job!

I've read that you can make a cheater's King Cake by just braiding together canned cinnamon roll dough. And while I certainly would have felt like a cheat, I think that would have been better than this version. It was a little... dry. Dare I say overcooked? I dunno.

But whatever, I got to creep people out with this plastic baby, so it was all worth it.

Thanks, creepy plastic baby.

And I got to go buck wild with my purple, yellow, and green decorative sugars. Wahoo. Really, those were the things I was looking forward to the most while making this cake. So that it wasn't all that great was kind of incidental. But I really wanted it to be dynamite!

Enjoy your Mardi Gras celebration, I'm looking forward to the excuse to eat some shrimp, gravy, and grits!


  1. We're actually headed to NOLA (we're leaving on a cruise from there) this coming saturday. I can't wait to get a taste of Mardi Gras in the crescent city!

  2. You're awesome... the cake looks stunning...and the baby... appropriately creepy!

  3. Kate! You are certainly getting adventurous and awesome in the kitchen! That cake looks good and mmm I could go for some gumbo right now too! hahah plastic baby. michaels craft store??

  4. Hi Kate, great effort on the NOLA food. Sorry it didn't come out as well as you'd hoped. I hate when that happens!
    The king cake looks impressive and very pretty though. And when else can you bake a baby into a cake?

    I'm glad the Saints won too.

  5. That baby is alarmingly muscular...