Monday, February 5, 2018

Mardi Gras Cuisine with The 99 Cent Chef

You are in for a movable feast during this Cajun holiday called Mardi Gras. The real partying starts this weekend and culminates on Fat Tuesdaywhere everyone lines streets for the parades, and floats with masked bead throwers. This is the time of year when New Orleans let's it freak flag fly -- all week long!

Read on and watch my videos to see some delish Cajun recipes, plus I'll even give you a personal Po' Boy Sandwich Tour of New Orleans. So scroll on down.

 Click on any photo to see larger.

Alright, let's get this party started! Walking the French Quarter in New Orleans, revelers carry drinks spiked with knee-buckling Everclear spirits. And I always make a stop at the local drive-thru for a  boozy slushy Daiquiri.


Yep you heard right, that's the way we roll in Cajun country. Now don't worry, you don't drink and drive, just take it home and chill. If you think I'm pulling your leg, then check us out in video below doing a Daiquiri drive-thru!



If buzzy spirits are too much for you, then settle down within view of the Missippi River in New Orleans for a chickory-flavored cup of Joe and sugar-powdered beignets at world famous Cafe du Monde. After the caffein and sugar rush you will be ready to take in New Orleans and the outrageous French Quarter, just a few steps away.,



I lived in Gonzales, Louisiana during my high school daze. I didn't know what to expect when our family moved there from Texas. I did some wild stuff over the next four years and ate a lot of down-home Cajun cooking. The video below takes place in a local flea market, so check it out to get the flavor of the place.


Cajun Flea Market Eats - Video

I hitchhiked with my high school buddy Marvin to New Orleans for Mardi Gras during school break. Back then it was all about grabbing a Po'boy Sandwich, listening to music, catching some beads thrown down by inebriated revelers perched behind French Quarter iron wrought balconies and Mardi Gras parade floats, and getting a good buzz (we were underage, so no booze, but we found other natural ways.)

Chef, Marvin & Dennis - high school buddies

We knew no fear and locals were friendly enough - even picking us up, a couple of hitchhiking long-haired teenagers. One memorable ride was in a hand-painted hippie Volkswagon van were the college aged, tie-dye wearing driver, and cool chicks in tight bell bottom jeans, on the back bench seat, passing around a doobie, before dropping us off in the city.


Looks like Red State Louisiana is soon joining Blue State California in legalizing marijuana for medical use. I guess we can all get along if there's a peace pipe to share.

I've kept in touch with my high school buddy Marvin and like to look him up when I land in New Orleans. Check out the video below to see how I (dinner) roll these days, when I tour the Crescent City in search of a delicious Po' Boy Sandwich with my high school bud - all the tasty details are in my original blog post here.


You will get a street-level experience of the Big Easy and the eccentric locals from my documentary short below.


New Orleans Po'  Boy Tour - Video

I know you are here for the recipes, too, and boy do I have a pirogue boatful. Between Mom and my Cajun line-cooking nephews, Matt and Zakk, I got that covered.

If you hang out in Louisiana for any amount of time you will inevitably eat spicy steamed mudbugs, or crawfish. They are milder in seafood flavor than shrimp, and are about the size of a small bay shrimp. If you've never had them then watch my video below to learn how to eat one.



It quickly becomes a party when I visit Gonzales Louisiana to see my Cajun family. And this first recipe is made with a beer flavored sauce. Warning, in the video we had to go through a Party Pack of Abita Beer to find just the right flavor!


My nephew Matt has been cooking for years now and has some major culinary skillz. I'll let him give you the low down on a Southern classic Shrimp and Grits video recipe (click here for recipe photos and text.)


Chef Matt's Shrimp & Grits - Video


The cheapest Cajun entree is Red Beans and Rice -- made by my Southern friend Miss Patti. She is a vegetarian with a menagerie of critters she keeps on her property just outside the city of New Orleans.

For real New Orleans-style Red Beans you should use the brand of beans called Camellia. But if you can't find them, it's okay to use any cheap red kidney beans.

We always have a good time together and you will too watching us cook together. Recipe details are a click away, here.


 Ms. Patti's Vegan Red Beans and Rice - Video

 Mom knows Cajun cuisine best. And she is here to share a few with you right now.


It's best to start at the beginning and here's the first recipe we did together, Mom's Jambalaya.


I make this recipe the most. Nothing too it: just brown chicken pieces and sausage with a whole chopped onion. Finally add rice and water to make the best comfort food ever. Well this is my Mom's version of Jambalaya (click here to read all about it.)


 Mom's Jambalaya - Video

 Mom also makes a killer Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. The trick is all in the deep chocolate colored roux - actually just flour that's slowly browned in oil.


I'll let Mom explain in the video below (the recipe text is here.)


Chicken and Sausage Gumbo - Video

Lately, when Mom makes hot and spicy Gumbo she adds a scoop of cool Cajun Potato Salad. Last time she was here in Los Angeles I got her to make some, and my cute niece Maranda dropped by to help. This recipe is a family affair you can check out below.


Mom's Cajun Potato Salad - Video

My other line cooking nephew, Zakk, knows how to blacken fish the Cajun way. And boy does he do a skillful job at it, as my video below will attest. He also throws in a mind blowing  side of Sweet Potato Hash, and yes, it's loaded with bacon.



 Zakk's recipe gets everyone in on the action including his Mom and my Mom, whom make a noshing appearance. So do check out his delicious Cajun recipes below and click here for all the written details.


Zakk's Blackened Fish with Sweet Potato Hash - Video

The South's favorite nut, next to peanut, is the pecan. And my chef nephew Matt has the best Pecan Crusted Fish recipe this side of the Mississippi River. And he throws in a vegan Spinach Salad with a creamy Strawberry Vinaigrette. Now that's a mouthful.


Pecan Crusted Fish and Spinach Salad with a Strawberry Vinaigerette

My most outrageous Cajun recipe is an Alligator Po' Boy sandwich made by my nephew Chef Matt. They say alligator tastes like chicken -- to me it is close to the texture of a pork chop, and tastes somewhere between chicken and shrimp. Just check out the recipe video and make sure to watch all the way to the end, where the relatives go hog wild over the Alligator Po' Boy.


Alligator Po' Boy - Video

If you are not in New Orleans attending the glittery and debauched Mardi Gras festivities, you can still have a tasty good time - if you remember to bookmark this page and come back to make any of my Cajun Mardi Gras meals. So Laissez les bons temps rouler!

New Orleans Po' Boy Dining:
Short Stop Po-Boys - 119 Transcontinental Drive (near New Orleans Airport)
Metairie, Louisiana 70001
Phone: (504) 885-4572
Website: http://www.shortstoppoboys.com

Mother's Restaurant - 401 Poydras
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130

Phone: (504) 523-9656
Website: http://www.mothersrestaurant.net

Parasol's Bar and Restaurant - 2533 Constance Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
Phone:(504) 302-1543
Website: http://www.parasolsbarandrestaurant.com

For a tasty local Los Angeles Po' Boy try The Gumbo Pot in the Mid-City located Farmer's Market. $11.55 for Shrimp or Oyster, and $11.75 for Mixed. For menu click here. Warning, the seafood Po' Boys have a sour bite because of inserted sliced lemon -- I usually take the slices out.

Another local food find for Cajun Cuisine is  a restaurant and deli store called Little Jewel, in downtown LA's Chinatown. It's the real deal too. Listen in as you get all the tasty details in my special Restaurant Nocturne arty video below. (BTW, the chef/owner drops an F-bomb at 1:53 minutes.)




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