Well Mardi Gras (aka Fat Tuesday) isnt technically until tomorrow. But I dont have parties on weeknights, so we threw the first annual (hopefully) Smith-Gallagher Mardi Gras party Saturday. It was a success I would have to say and not nearly as stressful as my holiday party. It was still stressful, but for different reasons. We took this party over from my parents who had like a decade worth of highly popular and successful 80-100 people parties. So I had a lot to live up to. Especially since they and some of their friends came down to attend. It was much smaller (only 20 people) but I had never made the vast majority of the recipes before, and I didnt use my mom's recipes either since they had a lot more seafood than I was going to serve. Also, I usually do either cookouts (easy), brunch (relatively easy) and appetizer-based parties (not easy, but lots of variety to appease any food pickiness and restrictions). But this was large quantities of a few things so I was pretty concerned. But as I said it all went well I think. Thursday night we made the crab cheesecake and king cake. The cheesecake is a variation on a combination of Emeril's Lobster Cheesecake (I used this crust) and Hanson's Landing Lobster Cheesecake (I use this filling) but then I switched out the lobster for crab (my mom used crawfish). Everyone seems to have loved the cheescake. It is very rich and a bit unexpected, but supposedly delicious. I didnt try it since I dont eat crab. The king cake was also an Emeril creation. We got the recipe from Everyday's a Party. My parents always ordered their and had it delivered since my mom is not a baker. It is a double rise yeast dough that is supposed to double in size during the first 2 hour rise (it didnt rise at all). Then you roll it out, fill it, form a cylinder and then a ring and rise it a second time (double in size it 45 minutes). It didnt rise at all again. So we did not have high hopes. At all. In fact I was pretty sure it would be disgusting. But you have to have a king cake. We couldn't find a baby to put inside so we used a walnut and hoped for the best. It turned out fantastic. It really did. Not too heavy (shockingly), not too dry (again a surprise). Matty thinks the filling needs more sugar as it was a bit cheesy, but I liked it. We couldnt get purple sprinkles so we made the glaze purple and then used yellow and green sprinkles. And Karla found the
walnut, so she was queen of the party. She is also supposed to make the cake next year. But that never worked for my parents, and I doubt it will work for us either. But c'est la vie :-).
Friday afternoon I left work early and made the 2 gumbos. One was a vegan okra gumbo. And the other was a chicken and andouille gumbo. They both turned out fantastic. But started out as disasters. Now a gumbo requires a dark roux (the color of a dirty penny) and mine would NOT darken. Even after an hour! My dad swears by doing it in the microwave. I was adamant about making my roux on the stove. Well after an hour and then throwing away both roux, I tried the micorwave method. They each took 8 minutes. It was a miracle and he told me so and seriously, I would definitely recommend the microwave method to anyone and everyone. So I made the roux then got everything cooked and to the point of simmering to hours and then stopped them. Friday evening the RIers all arrived. My parents were coming from a weeklong trip down to NC via Annapolis and Virginia to look at some boats, some condos, some houses and to see some friends. Bob, Edie and Sue were coming from RI. They all stayed at La Reserve B&B at 18th and Pine. It was perfect. The closest you can stay to us and relatively cheap considering the prettiness and comfort and amenities. So once they arrived and Matty got out of work we met them there, then walked to Rittenhouse and DiBruno's and then went to Continental for martinis before dinner. Everyone loved the back room upstairs. They also loved the pomegranate daiquiri martinis and the Buzz Aldrins. Then we went to Devil's Alley for dinner. Everyone loved that too. I love Devil's Alley. Then we went to the new Naked Chocolate on 18th St for dessert. All in all a lovely, decadent and delicious evening that everyone seemed to enjoy.
Saturday morning we got up around 8:30-9 (late for us for a party day) and started cooking. My mom came over around 10 to help. My dad and the other RIers spent the day exploring Philly. My mom was a huge help. With three people everything was done without a problem. Then the party. So for beverages we had a Mardi Gras Madness punch (layered purple, yellow and green + vodka), Hurricanes and Cyclones from Pat O'Brien's, purple, green and yellow jello shots and of course lager.
For food we had a variety of dips: (Kickin' Cajun (vegan from a mix), trinity bean (Matty's creation, also vegan), remoulade sauce (veganized from the Gumbo Shop's recipe), Sue's famous ham and cheese bread dip, and a slightly cajun-ized version of buffalo chicken dip. And dippers: smoked andouille sausage, shrimp, tempeh, crackers, chips and crudite. We also had cajun hot sticks and peanuts. Then we had crabbies (Matty's mom's recipe fro Shrimpies, but with crab instead of shrimp) that everyone seems to remember from when they were a kid.
And then for main dishes we had: red beans (I left out the sausage so it was vegan and used canned beans, so I didnt have to cook them so long though I didn cook them in a bit of vegie broth so the softened. I used Tony Chachere's seasoning which has salt so I left out the salt but I think they were too salty, so I need to find a salt-free cajun seasoning.); jambalaya (my favorite recipe from New Orleans with ham, bacon, chicken and smoked andouille so definitely not vegan but awesome. I will share if anyone is interested, as with all these recipes, just let me know); white rice for the beans and the gumbos; shrimp, andouille and tempeh to add to the gumbos and jambalaya since I did not make them with shrimp; the crab cheesecake; the vegan okra gumbo and the chicken and andouille gumbo. For dessert we had the king cake, a fantastic chocolate bread pudding (totally using this recipe again!!!) with bourbon sauce, vegan cupcakes, and a vegan rum cake with bananas foster topping that Tara brought. And of course purple, green and yellow M&Ms :-). The food was all really good in my opinion. And people seemed to enjoy themselves. Though people left early. Almost everyone was gone before midnight. But then Matty and Dan stayed up for awhile playing Guitar Hero while I cleaned up and then then Matty did all the dishes.
Sunday we went to Cuba Libre for brunch with my parents which was fabulous as always. And then they headed back to RI and we took a nap and then watched the Oscars and ate leftovers. Well there ya go'. Let me know if anyone wants any recipes.
3 years ago