Monday, January 21, 2008

Monday food

Today Colin and I cooked the archetypal Monday New Orleans recipe, red beans and rice. This dish is typically made using red kidney beans, stewed with onions, green bell peppers, celery, garlic, pork and spices cooked together for several hours before eating. It is served over a mound of white rice. Monday was red beans and rice day because you could incorporate the left over ham from dinner Sunday night. Also, Mondays were the traditional wash day in New Orleans, and this is a dish that could be simmered for hours without needing constant attention. We used the Uglesich's Cookbook 'red beans over white rice', which is as follows:

dice:
  • a green pepper
  • three celery stalks
  • a yellow onion
  • four cloves of garlic
  • one pound of ham (we used andouille sausage, so any type of pork will do)
add to:
  • beans that have been soaking overnight. (one pound of beans in a pot with an inch of water covering them.)
season with:
  • one eight ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Bring to a boil, then reduce to below simmer and cook for two to three hours. Just before serving, add a whole stick of margarine or butter into the pot. Serve over white rice.

mmm, creamy red beans and rice.

In addition to the red beans and rice, I made a King cake. King cakes used to be made on and for Twelfth Night during the Christmas season, but in New Orleans it has become associated with Carnival. Since Mardi Gras is only two weeks away, I thought I should whip one of these up. King cake is named after the three kings who visited the baby Jesus. Epiphany cake or King cake is common in many countries in Europe and was probably introduced into Louisiana by the French and Spanish settlers. My King cake was made from a brioche bread recipe with pecan filling (recipe found here). I did not bother to decorate it in the New Orleans style, (with colored sugars; yellow for power, green for faith, purple for justice) but I think it turned out beautifully nonetheless. Since I was not planning on serving it to a crowd I also did not include the traditional trinket, either a dried bean, or in New Orleans a small plastic baby doll. Whoever receives the piece of cake with the trinket is crowned King or Queen of the party and in some traditions is forced to supply the next year's King cake.



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