Monday, February 15, 2021

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 February 16 on Fat Tuesday, and continues thru the weekend. Usually, everyone lines streets for the parades and floats with masked bead throwers. This is the time of year when New Orleans lets its freak flag fly -- all week long! 

But 2021, in the time of the Coronavirus Pandemic, it's no dice -- sorry but the parades and float are virtual so Mardi Gras does not become a Super-Spreader event like last year. But read on anyway and I'll show you how locals have a tasty time when the plague years end.

Click on any photo to see larger.

Mardi Gras is more than plastic beads and Kings Cake. So 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.


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

Yep, you heard right, that's the way we roll in Cajun country. Watch the video below to see how we get away without getting a ticket for an open container violation!



Here's another of my patented GIF stories about a Cajun Happy Hour that has a chilling finale featuring my girlfriend Linda.

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



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 (featured in the Po'boy Sandwich Tour below) to New Orleans for Mardi Gras during the school break. Back then it was all about grabbing a Muffaletta, listening to street Brass Bands and Rock and Roll, 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 up a couple of hitchhiking long-haired teenagers like us. One memorable ride was in a hand-painted hippie Volkswagon van where the college-aged, tie-dye-wearing driver, and cool chicks in tight bell-bottom jeans, on the backbench seat, passed around a doobie, before dropping us off in the city.


Looks like Red State Louisiana has agreed with 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

Recently I met up with my long-lost brother from another.....daddy, aka the Swamp Chef! He showed up on Mom's doorstep one day and she welcomed him back into the family, and I must say he's a chip off the cypress tree block. He'd fit into a-rockin' Cajun ZZ Top lineup, slinging a wooden stirring spoon instead of a guitar.

99 Cent Chef, Mom, and Swamp Chef

When the Swamp Chef shows up there is always a delicious celebration -- and this time it's a BBQ Sausage Po-Boy Party!! Here in Gonzales, Louisiana, it's all about the bread when making a Po-Boy, or as it's also known, a Poor Boy (I can't figure out how to spell Po' boy as I've seen it all kinda ways!) Just watch the video below to see how the Swamp Chef grills locally made sausages by Ivderstine Farms Butchers and stuff them into a loaf of Reisling's French bread.



The Swamp Chef & Zak gets gooey and spicy with Cajun Nachos.

To quote Zak : "Uncle Swamp Chef for the win, these Cajun Nachos are lit."

Swamp Chef Cajun Nachos

The Swamp Chef knows the lay of the land around here and he recommends all you Mardi Gras tourists who need a pitstop, to park here in Gonzales, Lousiana for a big lunch plate of Jambalaya. Just check out the Swamp Chef giving you the lowdown in the video below. And it's dirt(y rice) cheap of course!



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 Zak, I got that covered.

If you hang out in Louisiana for any amount of time you will inevitably eat spicy steamed mudbugs, crayfish, or as the locals call them, Crawfish


They are milder in seafood flavor than shrimp and are about the size of a small bay shrimp. Cajuns start to eat them while still wearing a bib like Miles, my nephew Matt's son, in the video below.


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 with nieces, nephews, and their kids galore


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, Mom's Jambalaya.

I make this recipe the most. Nothing to it: just brown chicken pieces and sausage with a whole chopped onion. Finally, add rice and water to make the best comfort food ever. 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. The 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

Next to Gumbo, a rich and creamy Étouffée made with local crawfish is another decadent stew. Check out local Chef Tony's take on Crawfish Étouffée.



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, who make noshing appearances. 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 Vinaigrette

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

How low can one recipe go? Well, check out the Swamp Chef and nephew Chef Matt's Deep Fried Frog Legs...not for the faint of palate! This recipe goes from a swamp frog hunt to the deep fryer.


Frog Legs Recipe - 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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