Beyond the beads, parades and masks, Mardi Gras celebrations are all about the food. A few weeks ago this was again proven with the annual Crystal Creole Cajun Cook-off. The event gathered 20 finalists in two divisions (professional and amateur) to cook for the coveted title of best dish and cook to reign during the remainder of the carnival season.
Crowned the 2012 winners in the amateur category was Julie Roy for her Blue Crab Stuffed, Pecan & Panko Encrusted Redfish with Crawfish Crème and Upside-Down Bananas Foster Cake with Bourbon Street Whipped Cream.
John Johnson and Stephan Schubert, River City Casino’s chef duo, claimed top honors for their multi-dish Crystal Ball filled a banquet that included Louisiana Sweet Crawfish Etouffee Corn Fried Ravioli, Wild Apple Wood Smoked Shrimp and Andouille Gumbo, Crawfish Boudin Balls and Crystal Spiced Pecan Bacon Beignets.
Mardi Gras doesn’t end until Midnight next Tuesday, which gives plenty of time to mardi party. The St Louis Mardi Gras cook-off winners have shared their recipes. Each of the following recipes was a featured as a part of a total entry.
Crawfish Boudin Balls
Recipe from Chefs John Johnson and Stephan Schubert
1 tablespoon oil
8 ounces Arborio rice
2 teaspoons Crystal Hot Sauce
4 cups crawfish stock
2 ounces green bell pepper, finely diced
2 ounces red bell pepper, finely diced
2 ounces, yellow bell pepper, finely diced
2 ounces celery, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces crawfish, minced
2 ounces green onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup flour
3 large eggs, beaten
8 ounces bread crumbs
oil for deep-frying
In a saucepan over heat oil over a medium high heat. Add in rice and stir until rice becomes translucent. Add hot sauce and stock 2 cups at a time, stirring constantly until stock is absorbed into the rice. Check rice for tenderness. Remove and cool rice.
To assemble balls mix the green red and yellow pepper along with the celery, garlic, crawfish, green onions and red pepper flakes. Mixture can be seasoned to taste with salt and pepper, and then mixed to combine and shape into balls.
Place flour, eggs and breadcrumbs into separate shallow dishes. Roll boudin balls in flour, then into egg and finishing in breadcrumbs. Fry balls in hot oil (about 400 degrees) for a few minutes to brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels. Makes 10 –12 servings.
* Editor’s note: recipe has been adjusted for the home kitchen.
Upside-Down Bananas Foster Cake with Bourbon Street Whipped Cream
- 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon dark rum
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup chopped walnut, toasted
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 large bananas, sliced diagonally
Combine brown sugar, maple syrup, butter and rum in a 9-inch round cake pan. Bake in 350-degree oven until butter melts and sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes; stir well until completely incorporated. Walnuts may be placed in a separate pan and roasted at same time, however keep in oven for an additional 3-5 minutes.
Sprinkle toasted walnuts over caramel mixture. Arrange banana slices in a single layer to cover bottom of the pan; set aside.
- 1 cup flour
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt; stir to blend completely. In a separate medium bowl, beat granulated sugar and butter until creamy. Add egg and vanilla, and then continue to beat until light and fluffy.
Mix half of flour mixture into the butter mixture. Blend in milk; add remaining flour mixture, mixing just until combined. Spoon batter over bananas. Bake in 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Run a clean knife around edges of pan and carefully invert onto a plate. Lift off pan (after giving it a firm rap).
Bourbon Street Whipped Cream
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon Bourbon
- 1 tablespoon Marie Brizard Crème de Banane
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a large chilled mixing bowl, beat whipping cream with powdered sugar, run, crème de banana and vanilla until soft peaks form.
Cut either a slice, or use a biscuit cutter to cut a round piece of cake, and place it on your serving plate; top with whipped cream and garnish with toasted walnuts and banana slices.