Reward Offered….Missing Sugar Baby (Mardi Gras Wrap Up)

Last night we did our final mardi gras meal and king cake for the season.  There was much build up after all the recipe testing and fanfare.  I even found these fun mardi gras masks.

After reading an article recently from the SF Chronicle about grits making a comeback in restaurants, I thought I’d try their Shrimp and Grits with Tomato-Bacon Relish for Fat Tuesday dinner.  This was great and did not dissappoint.  I wasn’t able to find yellow grits, so I made white.  I only used half the amount of Tabasco and substituted smoked red pepper powder for the cayenne in the shrimp, as my kids are not always excited about too much spice.  I ended up deconstructing theirs (shrimp without sauce, and grits on the side), as the sauce was still a bit hot for my daughter.  But they really loved the meal, especially the grits with cheddar cheese.  I will make this again and would even make it for guests as it was easy and very pretty, besides tasty.  (See entire recipe below)

The moment everyone was waiting for was the king cake.  I decided I had made the cresent version and the cupcake version and was time to try and compare a traditional version of someone else’s.  And sometimes I have to remind myself that I can’t make everything, all the time.  It was difficult to find a local king cake, but I  called around and ordered one from Arizmendi Bakery in San Rafael.  They were making them for Fat Tuesday only.  This was a good option because while it was still large it wasn’t giant like many of those online and most of the recipes (makes 2 cakes to serve 12 – 18 people).  This was mid-week, after school, Tae Kwon Do and doctor’s appointments, so I would be able to squeeze in a cake pick-up but not a make from scratch cake.

My first impression was “This is lovely and very reasonable at $15.”  While it had all the mardi gras colors, it was somehow not as tacky as many pictured online.  Plus everything from Arizmendi (pizzas, scones, muffins etc) is wonderful.  After out great dinner it was time to cut the cake.  I explained to my family what the baker had told me about the “baby”, and that it was “a baby made out of sugar”.  We were so anxious to see the sugar baby.  We each chose a piece and took a bite.  My next thought was “This cake is great”.  Sweet frosting on top of wonderful layers of brioch.  We found the occassional hole that we thought the baby was hiding, but no.  We only ate about 1/4 of the cake and no one found the baby.  My kids and I were very curious.  We decided to cut the remaining cake into slices. 

Still no baby.  We were still hopeful and not yet ready to wreck the yummy cake.  We waited…

Overnight.  Again after dinner, we each chose a slice.  No baby was found.  It was time to butcher the cake.  We cut the remaining slices into small pieces and we never did find the sugar baby.  However we did find a hole with about 1/8 teaspoon sugar.  Was this once the baby?  Did he melt?  Or was this just another sweet bite and the baby made an escape before baking?  We’ll never know.  This baby didn’t bring us luck, but lots of intrigue. 

Shrimp & Grits With Tomato-Bacon Relish

Serves 4

 From Brenda Vuenviaje, chef-owner of Brenda’s French Soul Food cafe in San Francisco. Prepare the grits – which should be soft and spoonable – with 4 parts salted water and 1 part grits.

  • Tomato-Bacon Relish
  • 1/4 pound smoked bacon
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 medium red onion, about 1/2 cup
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes, some juice reserved
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce like Tabasco or Crystal, to taste
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar, or to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon sherry vinegar, or to taste
  • — Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • Shrimp & Grits
  • 2 cups prepared grits (Bob’s Red Mill yellow grits preferred)
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese, about 2 ounces
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 pound large shrimp, 26-30 count, peeled and deveined, tails on
  • — Kosher salt, to taste
  • — Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • — Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • — Thinly sliced green onion, for garnish

For the relish: Thinly cut bacon crosswise into lardons about 1/4-inch thick. Cook bacon in a medium-size skillet over medium heat until crispy and fat has rendered. Move bacon to paper towels and reserve. Drain skillet and discard excess fat, while wiping away any burned bits. Add olive oil, onion and garlic. Cook – stirring frequently – until onion is a medium brown color, about three minutes.

Add tomatoes, hot sauce, brown sugar and sherry vinegar then bring to a simmer. Cook briefly until slightly thick, stir in bacon and add salt and pepper to taste. The relish can be made a day or two ahead and kept refrigerated. Makes about 1 cup.

For the shrimp & grits: Preheat oven to 350°. Portion hot grits into 4 large, oven-proof dinner bowls, sprinkle cheddar over and place in oven until melted, about 3 to 5 minutes. Or melt in the microwave, about 30 to 60 seconds per bowl.

Meanwhile, add 2 tablespoons oil to a hot saute pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute briefly until slightly brown. Add shrimp then season with salt, black pepper and cayenne to taste. Saute briefly until edges of shrimp start to turn pink.

Add 1 cup white wine, deglaze pan and cook until wine is reduced by half. Add the Tomato-Bacon Relish and 2 to 3 tablespoons butter. Cook for another minute until sauce is hot and slightly thickened and shrimp are cooked through.

Divide shrimp and sauce into the bowls and garnish with sliced scallion.

Share

Fat Tuesday, with Organic Jambalaya and Citrus Corn Muffins Recipe

From Lisa Barnes

Before having children my husband and I always managed to celebrate Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday in the local southern restaurant/bar. We love New Orleans – the people, the jazz, the food, the food, the food….  We haven’t been in a few years (pre Katrina) so we use any excuse to celebrate and bring attention to the great city at our house. Unfortuantely some of our favorite cajun restaurants are gone from San Francisco. If anyone can make a suggestion in the Bay Area, please let me know.

Fat Tuesday at our house will start with my kids and I making festive feather masks and donning our colorful beads. Next we will sit down to one of our favorite meals of jambalaya with corn muffins.  Every night at the dinner table my family has a ritual. Each person (no matter how young) shares three things they are thankful for, along with telling everyone the favorite part of their day. For Fat Tuesday we will be especially thankful and remember the people who lost their family, friends, homes and jobs, and who continue to struggle in the areas hit by Katrina.

Years ago I bought a souvenir cookbook on one of our New Orleans visits. It is very well used with stains and dog eared pages, but it still works great. I changed a favorite jambalaya recipe to one that is child friendly and not too hot (although you can make adjustments) for my own book. Enjoy!

Organic Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya Recipe

Jambalaya is an easy one pot meal to make for the whole family. In the South this is considered a major comfort food.  For a spicier meal, substitute a Cajun Andouille sausage. This one is less spicy, for little mouths, and more health conscious than authentic Jambalaya recipes. But there are plenty of flavors from all of the fresh ingredients. Serve with citrus-corn muffins, below.

2 tablespoons expeller pressed canola oil
½ pound organc chicken-apple sausage, cut into ½ inch slices
1 small onion, chopped, about ½ cup
1 large organic red bell pepper, chopped, about 1 cup
1 clove garlic, minced
1¾ cups organic chicken broth
3 medium vine ripened tomatoes, or 8 ounces of Pomi tomatoes, drained and chopped
¼ cup Pomi tomato sauce
1 Bay leaf
¼ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon chopped, fresh oregano
1 cup uncooked short grain brown rice
1 large (3/4 pound) boneless, skinless organic chicken breast, cut in 2 inch strips

In a large, heavy stockpot heat oil over medium-high heat.

Add sausage, onion, pepper and garlic. Stir together and cook 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in broth, tomatoes, bay leaf, and spices.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in rice. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chicken, cover and simmer 5 additional minutes until chicken is cooked and rice is tender. Let stand, covered 10 minutes. Remove Bay leaf before serving.

One to watch and wash!  A one pot meal is a great time saver. All the ingredients can be prepped beforehand (even the night before) and then added when ready. Only one pot means one pot to watch when cooking and only one to wash when finished.

Organic Citrus-Corn Muffins Recipe

This savory muffin is inspired from a spa recipe. These muffins make a great accompaniment to family soups and salads, as well as the perfect healthy snack for active toddlers. You can bake these in adult size or mini muffin tins. If using mini tins, reduce baking time to 10 -12 minutes.

1 tablespoon grated organic orange zest (about 2 medium oranges)
2 cups unbleached flour
½ cup organic cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 large, cage- free, organic eggs
½ cup organic light brown sugar, packed
½ cup mashed organic banana, (about 1 large banana)

Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease 12 cup standard muffin tin or 24 cup mini muffin tin with vegetable oil. Using a small knife or zester, remove zest from oranges.

In a large bowl whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, eggs, brown sugar, banana and zest. Mix well.

Using a rubber spatula, fold wet buttermilk mixture into flour mixture. Be careful not to over mix, as muffins will be tough. Spoon batter into muffin cups, about ¾ full.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until muffins are brown on top and pick test (see below) is successful. Remove muffin tin from oven and place on wire rack to cool. Turn out muffins onto rack to cool completely. If muffins stick to pan, run a dull knife around edge of muffins and pan to release.

Makes 18 large muffins or 36 mini muffins.

Get picky! Keep toothpicks or small wooden skewers on hand to check muffins and other baked goods for doneness. Simply insert pick in center, and when comes out clean, muffins are done.

~
See also Lisa’s Quick Organic Snacks For Kids
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler, Williams-Sonoma: Cooking For Baby, Petit Appetit: Eat, Drink and Be Merry [Avail. March 2009], and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: Nola.com
OrganicToBe.org | OrganicToGo.com

[Permanent Link] [Top]

Share