Mardi Gras is a celebration of indulgence, from the classic New Orleans cocktails to the famous King Cake dessert. French for “Fat Tuesday,” the festivities culminate the night before Ash Wednesday, when the Lenten season begins – thus, this last hurrah centers on rich, spicy foods and bold flavors. Capture the spirit of The Big Easy with this party menu and our simple entertaining tips to create a fête worthy of a street parade.
|Ramos Gin Fizz
One of New Orleans’ most famous cocktails, the Ramos Gin Fizz originated in the city before 1900. Don’t skimp on the shaking time — the bubbly end result will be well worth the effort. When serving, arrange orange slices on a plate or small platter for guests to use as a garnish.
Beignets are usually sweet, but here they are savory snacks studded with chopped crawfish, for a cross between hush puppies and conch fritters. For a piquant dipping sauce, blend equal parts mayonnaise and Creole mustard and serve it in a small bowl alongside a platter of beignets. If you can’t find crawfish in your area, feel free to substitute shrimp or lump crabmeat.
|Spicy Seafood and Sausage Gumbo
This savory gumbo is perfect for serving a crowd. Prepare a pot of simple white rice, and ladle the gumbo over the rice in individual bowls. Place bottles of hot sauce on a buffet so guests can adjust the heat to taste.
|Carnival King Cake
Nothing says Mardi Gras quite like a traditional King Cake. Don’t forget to tuck “the baby” — a small plastic trinket — inside the cake. According to tradition, whoever is served the piece with the baby has to bring the cake the next year. This King Cake can easily be made a day or two ahead; simple cut into small slices to serve.
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Excellent party fare. Not too complicated to make. Definitely interesting flavors.