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Untangle your beads, dust off your masks and shake out your feather boas. Mardi Gras takes place on Feb. 9.

If you’ve never cooked New Orleans foods before, it is a great time to start. Put some Clifton Chenier or Queen Ida on your playlist, make yourself a Hurricane cocktail, and party like it’s a second-line parade.

Mardi Gras is one of the most exuberant celebrations of the year, in part because New Orleans is by definition fun and in part because it hasn’t become a major commercial holiday. The day is almost entirely about fun and good things to eat and drink. Indulging is the point, since Mardi Gras is followed by Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent.

Today we provide the menu for a home celebration, with French 75 cocktails to start, an appetizer with remoulade sauce, cabbage and andouille sausage with rice and, for dessert, bananas Foster.


Although the French 75 is thought to have been developed in New York during World War I, it is a popular New Orleans cocktail. The cherry is traditional, but you also can use a few pomegranate arils if they are in season.

French 75
Serves 2

4 ounces gin

2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

— Sparkling wine, champagne or cava

2 long spirals of lemon zest

2 cocktail cherries, optional

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes, add the gin, lemon juice and sugar and shake vigorously until thoroughly chilled, about 15 to 20 seconds.

Strain into two champagne flutes, dividing the mixture as evenly as possible. Tip the glasses, one at a time, and fill to the top with sparkling wine. Add the lemon zest spiral and the cherry, if using.


Serve this take on the classic sauce with shrimp, on sandwiches, and over avocado halves filled with fresh crab. It is excellent with almost any type of grilled or fried fish, too.

New Orleans-Style Remoulade Sauce
Makes about 2 cups

¾ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup sour cream or creme fraiche

3 tablespoons ketchup

2 tablespoons coarse-grain mustard

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

¼ lemon, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped onion

2 tablespoons chopped green onions

2 tablespoons chopped celery

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 tablespoon crushed garlic

— Kosher salt

— Black pepper in a mill

1 teaspoon sweet Spanish paprika

½ teaspoon hot Spanish paprika

Put the mayonnaise, sour cream or creme fraiche, ketchup, coarse-grain mustard, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce and vinegar into a medium mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Set aside briefly.

Put the lemon, onions, celery, parsley and garlic into the work bowl of a food processor fitted with its metal blade. Pulse several times, until ingredients are evenly minced but not pureed.

Add the mixture to the mixing bowl, using a rubber spatula to scrape out every last bit .

Season with salt and several turns of black pepper, add the paprikas and whisk well.

Correct the seasoning, transfer to a serving bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.


This recipe is adapted from one in “In a Cajun Kitchen” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006, $29.95 by Terri Pischoff Wuerthner, originally from Cajun country). It is rustic, earthy, easy to prepare and absolutely scrumptious.

Cajun-Style Smothered Cabbage with Andouille
Serves 4 as a main course

2 tablespoons peanut oil

6 ounces andouille sausage, cut into small dice

1 large yellow onion, cut into small dice

1 large (about 3 pounds) white cabbage, cored and very thinly sliced or chopped

2 cups homemade chicken stock

4 whole andouille sausages, pierced with a fork in several places

— Kosher salt

— Black pepper in a mill

1 teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon ground white pepper

½ teaspoon ground cayenne, plus more to taste

3½ cups, approximately, steamed white rice (from 1 cup raw rice)

— Tabasco or Crystal hot sauce

Pour the oil into a deep saucepan or Dutch oven, set over medium heat and add the sausage and onions. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until the onions begin to soften and the sausage begins to release its fat.

Add the cabbage and stir as it begins to wilt. Add the chicken stock and nestle the whole andouille into the cabbage. When the stock begins to simmer, reduce the heat to very low, cover and let cook until the cabbage us very tender.

Uncover, taste, correct for salt and add several very generous turns of black pepper. Stir in the sugar, white pepper and cayenne. Increase the heat to medium and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by a bit more than half.

Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

To serve, ladle the cabbage mixture into individual soup plates and add a whole andouille to each place. If you like, slice the andouille first. Add a generous scoop of rice to each serving and enjoy right away, with hot sauce passed alongside.


Bread pudding with lemon whiskey sauce may be the best-known New Orleans dessert, but bananas Foster is a close second. Developed in the 1950s at Brennan’s in downtown Nola, the dish is easy to create at home. If you don’t have banana liqueur and don’t want to bother with it, use apple liqueur or apple brandy.

Bananas Foster
Serves 4

4 medium firm-ripe bananas, peeled and halved lengthwise

½ cup butter

1 cup, packed, brown sugar

— Two pinches of kosher salt

— Cinnamon in a shaker bottle

¼ cup banana liqueur

½ cup dark rum

— French Vanilla or vanilla bean ice cream, frozen hard

Cut the banana halves in half crosswise.

Put the butter into a heavy cast iron skillet or saute pan, set over medium heat and, when the butter is melted, stir in the brown sugar. Stir very slowly and gently until the sugar dissolves.

Add the salt, stir and add the bananas in a single layer. Cook for 1 minute, turn over, and cook for 1 minute more. Shake cinnamon over the bananas and remove from the heat.

Working quickly, add the liqueur and rum and use a long match to ignite the alcohol. Let the flames die naturally. Return to the heat and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the bananas soften.

Meanwhile, put 2 scoops of ice cream into each of four dessert bowls.

Divide the bananas among the servings and spoon the sauce over everything.

Michele Anna Jordan is author of the new “Good Cook’s” series. Email her at michele@saladdresser.com, or visit her blog at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.

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