Mardi Gras

Published on Tuesday, 25 February 2014 23:53 - Written by Christine Gardner,

Bright, colorful, bold and brilliant – this not only describes Mardi Gras décor and colors but the traditional food of this indulgent New Orleans celebration.

The spirit of Louisiana and the scent of spicy and delicious Cajun fare filled Palestine Main Street as hundreds of people from all over East Texas turned out Saturday for the 2nd Annual Taste of New Orleans.

The progressive tasting event, featuring area chefs, restaurateurs and wineries, celebrated the flavors of Mardi Gras. From gumbo to crab balls, hurricanes and bread pudding – each chef along the way put their own personal flair on the celebratory Louisiana cuisine.

To wash down some of the spice, three of the Palestine area wineries – Granny Muffin Wines, Texas Vineyard & Smokehaus, and Sweet Dreams Winery – were on hand with samples of a variety of wines.

There was also plenty of shopping and fun to experience at shops, such as O’Sweet Pea Kitchen Boutique, Artifacts in the Redlands Inn, Mardi Gras mask-painting at Old Magnolia and wine & art gifts at The Texas Art Depot.

The day ended with a sunset parade featuring colorful floats, grand costumes and plenty of beads and masks. The Mardi Gras king and queen, Milton and Kay Kuser were the highlight of the parade and were accompanied by their Mystics of Time krewe, and the familiar sound of zydeco music from area bands and musicians.

Officially, Mardi Gras is not until March 4, so if you missed the festivities on Saturday, the chefs from the event have shared their recipes. Keep the celebration going and enjoy some of your own Mardi Gras fun. Laissez les bons savuer rouler – let the good flavor roll!


Blackened Chicken with Creole Alfredo Pasta



For the Chicken:

2 teaspoons ground pepper

1 tablespoon paprika

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts


For the Creole Pasta:

1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped

1 medium red onion, roughly chopped

1 stalk celery, roughly chopped

5 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tablespoons bacon fat

3 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoons tabasco sauce

1/4 cup dry white wine

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup chopped scallions

1/2 cup diced roma tomato

1/4 cup rough chopped sundried tomato

1/2 cup pecorino romano

1 pound cooked fettuccine



In a wide shallow bowl, combine all ingredients except chicken to create the blackening rub. Dredge chicken breasts in blackening rub. Heat a small amount of oil in a cast iron or non-stick skillet over high heat. Blacken both sides of chicken breast, then move to sheet pan and bake in 350 degree oven for ten minutes, making sure chicken reaches internal temperature of 165 degrees. Slice into thin strips on a bias and set aside. To make the pasta, heat the bacon fat over medium high heat. Add garlic and cook until lightly caramelized.

Add the bell pepper, red onion and celery and sauté until slightly limp and translucent. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and cook until wine is reduce by half. Add the chicken stock, paprika, cayenne and tobacco and bring to simmer. Add 1 cup of the cream and simmer for 20 minutes. Puree in food processor or with immersion blender. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add the puree and remaining cream and recue by approximately half. When the sauce reaches desired consistency, stir in the pecorino romano and salt/pepper to taste. Add the sliced blackened chicken and fettuccine, toss thoroughly and serve.

Recipe from Chef Carmen Santone, Switch Pizzeria & Wine Bar, ,, 903-729-7700


Atchafalaya Jambalaya Me Oh My Oh!



2 cups white rice

2 chicken breast cubed

4 sausage links sliced

1/2 pound peeled and deveined shrimp

1 large onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 bunch of cilantro, chopped

1 bunch of parsley, chopped

3 finger peppers, chopped

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon gumbo file powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 can of Rotel

2 tablespoons of coconut oil

4 cups of water



In a large skillet heat your oil on medium-high. Add rice, meat, onion, peppers and garlic and continuously stir. Add your spices. Once pieces of the rice start to turn brown add the Rotel and keep stirring for 2 minutes letting all the juice soak into the rice and meat. Add the 4 cups of water and throw in the fresh herbs give one more stir, cover the skillet and reduce the heat to low. Set your timer for 20 minutes. At the 20 minute mark add your shrimp. Do not stir. Cover again and let cook for 10 more minutes. Remove from heat, uncover, and fluff with a fork. Add a dash of Tabasco for those who like it hot! Makes 8 servings.

Recipe by Lulu Dyess, Owner of For in The Road Food Truck, ,, 903-729-FORK


Bourbon Street Bread Pudding



12 slices of white bread, buttered on one side

8 croissants, halved

1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips, divided

6 eggs

3 cups milk

1 cup sugar, divided

3 bananas, sliced

2 teaspoons almond essence

4 tablespoons bourbon, divided

1 cup cream cheese

1/4 – 1/2 cup orange juice

Assorted sprinkles: purple, gold, green

DIRECTIONS Place six slices bread in a 9x13 pan side by side but buttered side down. Top with half of the chocolate chips and the banana slices. Place other six slices on top, butter side down. In a large bowl beat eggs. Heat milk and 1/2 cup of sugar in pan until warm, but not boiling. Add the almond essence and 2 tablespoons of the bourbon to the milk. Slowly whisk the hot milk into the beaten eggs. Combine well and pour over bread. Place the bottom halves of the croissants on top of the bread. Add the remaining chocolate chips and top with the tops of the croissants. Let stand for ten minutes. Place in a 350 degree oven and cook for 30 minutes or until set. Let cool slightly. In a bowl combine the cream cheese with remaining 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons of bourbon and enough orange juice to thin the cream cheese to a whipped cream consistency. Use as a topping after baking. Garnish with sprinkles.

Recipe by Chef Simon Webster, Sabor a Pasion Estate & Vineyard, ,, 903-729-9500


New Orleans Crab Balls



20 saltines finely crushed

1 cup flour

1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or Cajun spice

1 cup seltzer water

4 scallions, sliced thinly

2 large eggs

1 egg yolk

4 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons hot sauce

2 pounds lump crabmeat, dried on paper towels

oil, for frying


Whisk together crushed crackers, flour, Old Bay, baking powder, and cayenne. Whisk seltzer, scallions, eggs and yolk, mayo, mustard, hot sauce into cracker mix until well combined. Fold crabmeat into mixture until well combined. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours. Set wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet and line half of rack with several paper towels. Add 1 1/2 inches of oil to a large Dutch oven. Over medium heat, heat oil to 350 degrees. Form crab balls in a 1/4 dry measure cup that has been sprayed with vegetable oil. Fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels drain for 1 minute move to unlined rack. Serve. Makes 24 balls.

Recipe by Chef Jack Kraatz, Bella Serra Ranch,


Maque Choux Crawfish Pie



4 tablespoons each, butter and flour

1 bell pepper, cored and small dice

1 medium yellow onion, minced

2 cups corn

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 can diced tomatoes, rinsed and drained

2 cups milk

1 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, to taste

3 to 5 shakes Louisiana hot sauce, to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 pound crawfish tails, roughly chopped

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed according to package directions

9 x 13 baking pan



In a large saucepan heat butter over medium heat. Add the bell pepper, onion, corn, garlic and cook until soft. Add the diced tomatoes and flour. Stir to coat the vegetables with the flour. Cook for a couple of minutes while stirring occasionally. Begin whisking in the milk and broth. Season with the Cajun seasoning and Louisiana hot sauce. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer while stirring. Let simmer until thickened. Taste and season with salt and pepper and additional spices, if desired. Remove from heat. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Unfold puff pastry and place on a well-floured surface. Roll out to desired size and trim edges with a sharp knife to fit the pan you will be using. Pour the filling into the pan. Add the crawfish on top of the filling. Place the puff pastry over the top. Cut a few slits in the top of the pastry. Brush the top with a small amount of oil. Sprinkle with Cajun seasoning. Bake for 30 minutes or until filling is bubbling and pastry is puffed, crisp and golden. If making in advance, do not add the crawfish or puff pastry until ready to bake. Filling can be made up to one day in advance.

Recipe by Christine Gardner,, 903-596-6247


Tenderloin, Andouille & Crawfish Stuffed New Potatoes with Spiced Rum Creole Sauce



12 medium new potatoes

1 cup parboiled rice

2 cups chicken stock

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 yellow onion, small dice

1 cup green bell pepper, small dice

3 tablespoongreen onions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoonolive oil

6 ounces shredded beef tenderloin, cooked

2 ounces chicken liver, cooked & fine chop

3 ounces andouille sausage

6 ounces crawfish tails

3 ounces spiced rum

30 ounces demi-glace reduction



To make the potato bowls, slice each potato in half lengthwise, then slice a small portion off the bottom so that it can sit flat. Core out with a melon baller to create a bowl. In a saucepot, add oil, onions, peppers, sausage, beef and crawfish tails. Sweat until onions are tender. Add rice and chicken stock. Cook for about 20 minutes until rice is cooked. Salt and pepper, to taste. In a separate pot, add 2 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Add potato bowls and cook until tender. Remove and allow to cool. In a sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil and then brown new potato bowls until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper. In a small sauce pot, heat spiced rum and allow alcohol to burn off….approximately 1 minute. Then add demi reduction. To rice mixture, add green onions and mix gently. Spoon approximately 1 tablespoon rice mixture into each potato bowl. Spoon on side the spiced rum creole sauce and serve immediately. Makes 24 pieces.

Recipe by Chef James Harp, Denby's American Grille & Bar, ,, (903) 723-0783


New Orleans Gumbo



1 pound butter, softened

1 pound flour

1 cup celery, coarse chopped

1 onion, coarse chopped

1 green bell pepper, coarse chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 pound andouille sausage

1 gallon water

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces

4 ounces chicken base

1 tablespoonsugar

Salt & pepper

4 bay leaves

2 tablespoon Tony Chachere’s seasoning

29 ounces stewed tomatoes

6 ounces tomato paste

20 ounces cut okra

1 pound crawfish tails

2 pounds shrimp, uncooked

3 cups cooked white rice



Make a roux by whisking flour and butter together in a medium saucepot over medium heat until roux becomes a rich mahogany color. This could take up to 30 minutes being careful not to burn. In separate pot, add the water, cut up chicken, chicken base and bay leaves. Cook for approximately 45 minutes or until chicken becomes tender and can be removed from bone or falls off. Next, add all vegetables except okra and cook for about 20-25 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook for 10 minutes. Last, add your roux, stirring slowly until the roux becomes mixed evenly and cook until gumbo is thickened. Gumbo file powder may be added for additional flavor. Makes 5 quarts.

Recipe by Chef James Harp, Denby's American Grille & Bar


Alligator Sauce Piquante



1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup flour

3 yellow onions, chopped

1 teaspoon garlic

1 green bell pepper, chopped

4 celery stalks, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

15 ounces tomato sauce

10 ounces Rotel tomatoes

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

1 lemon, juice and zest

1 quart vegetable stock

2 pounds alligator, cut up, bite size

1 tablespoon tabasco

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup green onions, chopped

1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped



Place a six quart pot over medium heat. Add oil then flour making a paste. Stir constantly with a flat wooden spoon until the color is a very dark brown. When the color is almost right, add garlic and stir vigorously. Next add onions allow the roux to cool. This is tricky and you can easily burn the roux if you let it get too dark.  After a few minutes of stirring, add bell pepper, celery and red pepper. Stir often and cook for another 5 minutes. When the veggies soften, add tomato sauce, Rotel, thyme, bay leaves, lemon juice, stock and alligator. Season to taste with Tabasco, salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and Worcestershire. Cook on medium to low fire for 1 1/2 hours stirring occasionally. Add lemon zest. Serve over herbed rice. Garnish with green onions and flat leaf parsley. Makes 1 gallon.

Recipe by Chef Christian Mailoux, Red Fire Grille, ,, 903-723-2404


Red Fire Grille Hurricane



1 1/2 ounce spiced dark rum

1 1/2 ounce white rum

1 ounce passion fruit syrup

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Dash of grenadine



Mix rums, syrup and lime juice over cracked ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add a dash of grenadine for a layered effect. Makes 1 cocktail.


Mudbug Martinis



1 bag of rotini pasta

1 stick of butter

2 green onions, sliced

4 cloves of garlic, finely minced

2 cups of half and half

1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning, to taste

1 pound of cooked, fresh or frozen Louisiana crawfish tails

Sprinkle of parsley

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper



Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse, drain well and set aside. Melt the butter and sauté the garlic until soft. Add the sliced green onion and cook another 2 minutes. Stir in the half and half and the Cajun seasoning gradually to taste so that desired level of heat is achieved. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, add the crawfish and cook another 5 to 10 minutes or until nicely thickened and heated through. Stir in the pasta, parsley and parmesan. Salt and pepper, to taste. Serve in martini glasses or dessert cups.

Recipe by Michele Merryman, Palestine High School Culinary Instructor,


FRESH Ideas:

Crawfish Corn Cakes



1 egg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon Creole mustard

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

1 cup crumbled corn bread, just enough to hold cakes together

8 ounces of crawfish tails, roughly chopped

1/2 cup melted butter

1 tablespoon Louisiana hot sauce



Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and grease with butter. Set aside. Whisk together all ingredients, except crawfish and cornbread in a large bowl. Gently fold in crawfish and the cornbread crumbs. Form the mixture into loose patties. Place on the greased baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. In a small bowl combine the melted butter and hot sauce. Serve with crawfish cakes. Recipe by Christine Gardner. Watch the FRESH Ideas video at or See it live Tuesdays at 5p.m. on CBS19.