meatless monday: meatless mardi gras

green/gold/purple. via pinterest.

It’s (almost) Mardi Gras, and people the world over will be imbibing and indulging on this final night before Lent. It’s part of my personal resolution that 2012, my year of turning 30 (more on that later) is a year of being more celebratory in general. My natural inclination is to be kind of grumpy and lazy in celebrating holidays that other people really get into, especially when said holiday falls on a weekday night. Fat Tuesday has not been important to me since participating in Carnivale in Venice nearly 8 years ago, which was amazing for a variety of reasons (if you haven’t witnessed throngs of Italians descending on Piazza San Marco in white face masks and purple feathers and lavish gowns, you just haven’t lived).

This year, I’m getting in the spirit and making a spicy vegetarian gumbo from Why Veg, and a superfun New Orleans King Cake! Appropriately, Mardi Gras also happens to fall on the birthday of one of the most celebratory dudes I know (happy bday, Luke!) so I’ll be sharing this bounty with some sweet friends tomorrow night. Laissez les bon temps rouler!*

*Let the good times roll.

Spicy Vegetarian Gumbo
2 lbs. collard greens, stems removed and chopped
2 c. water
1/4 c. vegetable oil + 2 tbsp.
1/4 c. flour
2 onions, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
4 stalks celery, chopped
3 or 4 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 c. hot sauce (you can bet I’ll use Sriracha)
1 tsp. file powder (sassafras root)
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 c. vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 c. chopped okra
16-oz. can kidney beans
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 c. rice, pre-cooked

In a large soup pot, boil the greens in two c. water for about ten min. Cover and allow to steam for 5 to 10 more min. Reserve the cooking water.

In a separate small pot, whisk together the 1/4 c. oil and flour over low heat to form a roux, stirring continuously for about 10 to 15 min. Once it turns a dark reddish brown, remove from the heat and set aside.

In a large soup or stock pot, saute the onions, bell pepper, celery and tomatoes for a few min. in the 2 tbsp. of oil, until just soft. Reduce the heat and add the hot sauce, file powder, cayenne, thyme, oregano, parsley and garlic and cook, stirring for one or two more min.

Add the roux and the vegetable broth and stir well to combine. Add the cooking water from the collard greens and the bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, and allow to cook for 15 min.

Add the collard greens, okra, kidney beans, and rice and cook for 5 more min. Remove bay leaves before serving.

king cake.

Mardi Gras King Cake
PASTRY:
1 c. milk
1/4 c. butter
2 (.25 oz.) packages active dry yeast
2/3 c. warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/2 c. white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
5 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

FILLING:
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
2/3 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. melted butter

FROSTING:
1 c. confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp. water

A small plastic baby

Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 c. of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tbsp. of white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 min.

When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 c. at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 min.Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
To Make Filling: Combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 c. flour and 1/2 c. raisins. Pour 1/2 c. melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.
Roll dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 10×16 in. or so). Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings. Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet. With scissors make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 in. intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 min.Bake in preheated oven for 30 min. Push the plastic baby (don’t forget the baby!) into the bottom of the cake. Frost while warm with the confectioners’ sugar blended with 1 to 2 tbsp. of water. Sprinkle with colored sugar in yellow, purple and green.
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One response to “meatless monday: meatless mardi gras

  1. A note about the King Cake: inexplicably, this recipe has you bake two cakes, and never tells how you combine them…or are you supposed to come out with two cakes? One is a queen cake? Can a Louisianan explain this to me? In any event, I now have 2 cakes. 🙂

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