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Mardi Gras Eats: Swinging the good thing in the Kitchen with Chef JP!

My personal history with the cuisine of New Orleans goes way back to the early 1960's when I was an Army brat living in the New Orleans suburb of Metarie.  I got to experience this great food culture up close and while I lived in many other places after New Orleans I never forgot the food and the music I first encountered in that magical city.  Throughout the 70's and into the early 80's I was pursuing a career in music as the lead singer of the rock band, the Freelance Vandals.  By the mid-1980's, after years of mishaps and insanity courtesy of living a life in the music business and the fact I was tired of being a starving artist, I decided to drop out for awhile and took a job washing dishes in a local restaurant while still pursuing my love of songwriting.  Surprisingly, it turned out A-Ok as I realized that I was working in a place that had plenty of food so I was no longer going to be a starving artist!  As time went on, I was surprised to find that I had a natural talent for working in a professional kitchen and eventually I became a line cook and then a Chef who specialized in Cajun/Creole food. As time rolled on, I developed a reputation for making some mighty tasty well seasoned food thereby acquiring the nickname, The Chef From Hell.





  • 2 TBS diced Fresh Basil Leaf (rinse basil before use)
  • 2 TB extra virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Spanish Onion, chopped coarse
  • 2 large Jalapeno Peppers (stems removed), chopped coarse
  • 2 canned Chipotle Peppers in adobo sauce
  • 2 TBS fresh Cilantro leaves, rinsed & chopped coarse
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground White Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground Nutmeg
  • 1 28 oz can Whole Plum Tomatoes in Juice


  • place the diced basil and olive oil in a food processor
  • pulse for 10 seconds
  • place the onion, jalapeno & chipotle peppers, cilantro, salt, white pepper and ground nutmeg in the food processor
  • Pulse these ingredients for 20 seconds
  • Add the plum tomatoes and juice
  • Process for another 15 seconds
  • Serve salsa with your favorite tortilla chips

CHEF'S NOTE: This salsa is a good ice breaker at a Mardi Gras Party.  Make sure you have plenty of cold beer on hand, eh?


The history of Jambalaya dates back to the days of when there was a French and Spanish culinary influence in New Orleans.  Many of the local cooks who worked in well-to-do households were required to prepare the popular Spanish rice dish, paella.  Over time, the local cooks and chefs added their own touches and Jambalaya was became a celebrated dish, unique to Louisiana.


  • ½ lb unsalted butter 
  • 1 cup celery, chopped coarse 
  • 1 cup green bell pepper; seeded & chopped coarse 
  • 1 medium sized yellow onion; peeled & chopped coarse 
  • 2 large jalapeno peppers; stem removed & chopped coarse 
  • 1 lb Andouille sausage, chopped coarse 
  • ½ lb Tasso ham, chopped coarse 
  • 4 boneless chicken thighs, chopped coarse 
  • Seasoning Mix: 
  • 1 large bay leaf, crumbled 
  • 1 Tbs crushed red pepper 
  • 1 Tbs basil 
  • 1 tsp thyme 
  • 1 tsp Spanish paprika 
  • 1 tsp kosher salt 
  • 1 tsp cayenne red pepper 
  • ½ tsp ground white pepper 
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper 
  • ¼ cup Madeira wine 
  • 1 cup chicken stock or broth 
  • ½ lb Crawfish tails 
  • ½ cup scallions; ends removed & chopped coarse 
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes 
  • 6 cups Baked rice (see Recipe below)

Cooking Procedure 

  • In a large skillet, melt butter over high heat
  • Add the “cajun trinity” (celery/onions/green bell pepper)
  • Stir well and cook for 3 minutes or until onions begin to turn clear
  • Lower heat to medium and add the jalapeno peppers, andouille, tasso, chicken thighs, and the seasoning mix
  • Stir well and cook for 4 minutes more, shaking skillet from time to time
  • Add the wine and shake the skillet vigorously
  • Scrape the bottom of the skillet and cook for 3 minutes more
  • Add the stock, Crawfish tails and scallions
  • Cook for 4 minutes
  • When the skillet mixture begins to bubble & simmer, add the crushed tomatoes
  • Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes
  • Scrape the bottom of the skillet from time to time to prevent sticking
  • Add the baked rice and stir mixture well so that the rice is completely incorporated into the skillet mixture
  • Note: see Baked Rice recipe below
  • Turn of the heat and let your jambalaya simmer for 2 more minutes. 
  • Serve in bowls with hunks of french bread on the side. Serves 4. 
  • To make a colorful presentation of your jambalaya, garnish the finished dish with some diced red bell pepper and parsley

CHEF’S NOTE: If you are unable to find some of the ingredients at your local stores (such as andouille/crawfish tails/tasso ham), you can mail order them from several online vendors.



  • 2 cups uncooked converted Rice
  • 2 1/2 cups stock (chicken, beef, seafood or vegetable)
  • 1/4 cup Celery, chopped small
  • 1/4 cup Green Bell Pepper, chopped small
  • 1/4 cup Yellow Onion, chopped small
  • 1 tsp Bayou Seasoning (see recipe below)
  • 1 1/2 TBS unsalted Butter, cubed
  • Cooking Procedure
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  • In a loaf pan, combine all ingredients & mix well
  • Seal loaf pan tightly with aluminum foil
  • Bake rice at 350 until rice is tender; about 1 hour & 10 minutes



  • 1 large round bread loaf, 9 inches in diameter (often referred to as a "Bishop's Loaf"
  • 1 cup Giardinera (an Italian pickled vegetable mix)
  • 1/4 cup Black Olives, chopped coarse
  • 1/4 cup Green Pimento stuffed Olives
  • Olive Oil
  • 4 oz Genoa Salami, sliced thin
  • 4 oz Prosciutto Ham, sliced thin
  • 4 oz Cappicola, sliced thin
  • 4 oz Provolone thin, sliced thin

Cooking Procedure

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees

Giardinera - pickled vegetable mix

  • Drain the Giardinera of any liquid and place it in a food processor
  • Add the black and green olives
  • Drizzle in a little olive oil & pulse the ingredients until you achieve a chunky vegetable mix
  • Set this mix aside
  • Slice the round loaf in half horizontally
  • Layer the bottom of the loaf with the processed vegetable mix
  • Layer the sliced cheese and meats over the vegetable mix
  • Place the top half of the bread on top of the meats
  • Wrap the sandwich in aluminum foil
  • Bake the sandwich in a 350 oven until the cheese is melted and the meats are warm; about 25 - 30 minutes
  • Remove the sandwich from the oven and let it rest for 20 minutes
  • Slice the sandwich into quarters to serve

CHEF'S NOTE: There are two schools of thought when it comes to the famous Muffaletta sandwich.  Some folks like it prepared cold much like a deli sandwich whereas others prefer the sandwich served hot.  My preference is to heat it up and enjoy all that melted cheese.  Yeah baby!

Sweet Loretta's Mardi Gras King Kake

Here's the Mardi Gras Tradition of King Kake from the site: The name king cake comes from the Biblical story of the three kings who bring gifts to Baby Jesus. A blend of coffee cake and cinnamon roll, king cake is usually iced in yellow, green and purple – the colors of Mardi Gras -- and is, indeed, a heavenly treat for New Orleanians when it appears in supermarkets and bakeries between early January and Ash Wednesday. Frequently packed with fruit fillings, king cakes also contain a surprise. Hidden in its interior is a small plastic baby. Whoever finds it must either bring the next cake or throw a party, thus sparking an unending round of food or fun. And while we hold firm to our belief that king cakes taste best in New Orleans, don’t fret if you aren’t here during Carnival. Several bakeries offer fast delivery anywhere in the United States.

The History of Mardi Gras King Kake

From Wikipedia:

What started out roughly 300 years ago as a dry French bread–type dough with sugar on top and a bean inside now comes in many varieties depending on the country. Some king cakes are made of a sweet brioche dough in the shape of a hollow circle with a glazed topping sprinkled with colored sugar. Hundreds of thousands of King Cakes are eaten in New Orleans during the Carnival season. In other countries, king cakes are made with a puff pastry, filled with one of several fillings (e.g., almond, apple, chocolate/pear, etc.), and have a small figurine hidden inside. The figurine changes from bakery to bakery and often represents a hit movie or other cultural icon. 

The "king cake" takes its name from the biblical kings. In Western Christian liturgical tradition, the Solemnity of Epiphany—commemorated on January 6—celebrates the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child. The Eve of Epiphany (the night of January 5) is popularly known as Twelfth Night (the Twelve Days of Christmas are counted from Christmas Eve until this night). The season for king cake extends from the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas (Twelfth Night and Epiphany Day), up until the end of Shrovetide: Mardi Gras, "Fat Tuesday," or Shrove Tuesday; the day before the start of Lent. Some organizations or groups of friends may have "king cake parties" every week through the Carnival season. In Portugal and France, whoever gets the King cake trinket is expected to buy the next cake for these get-togethers.

The cake often has a small plastic baby (to represent the Baby Jesus) inside or underneath; and the person who gets the piece of cake with the trinket has various privileges and obligations.

This particular King Kake recipe was created by my better half, Sweet Loretta.  She was the dessert chef at our various restaurants and used to make this King Kake back in the day during our week long Mardi Gras celebrations.


  • 1 TBS cocoa Powder 
  • 2 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1/3 cup sugar 
  • Mix well and set aside 
  • 3 cups flour 
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder 
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda 
  • ½ tsp salt 
  • Sift and set aside 
  • 1 ½ cups sugar 
  • 1 ½ sticks butter 
  • 2 tsp vanilla 
  • 16 ounces sour cream 
  • 3 eggs 
  • 1 plastic baby, or bean 

Cooking Procedure

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  • Grease and flour a 10 inch tube pan
  • Cream butter and sugar
  • Add the vanilla and blend well
  • Beat in the flour mixture and beat well
  • Add the sour cream and eggs and continue beating
  • When well blended, spoon half of the mixture into the tube pan
  • Sprinkle the cocoa/cinnamon mixture over the surface of the batter in the pan
  • Tuck the baby or bean into the top of the cake batter
  • Spoon the remaining batter evenly into the tube pan
  • Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean
  • Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a plate and continue cooling

Ingredients for the Glaze

  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar 
  • 1 tbs softened butter 
  • 2 tablespoons milk 
  • 2 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream 
  • Purple, gold (or yellow), and green sprinkles, sugars, or gel tube cake writers 

Cooking Procedure

  • Whisk together the butter and sugar
  • Drizzle in the milk and Bailey’s a little at a time, until you reach the consistency you need to drizzle over the top of the cake and let it drip down the sides
  • You may need to add a touch more, to achieve the proper consistency, but don’t go too far
  • Spoon the glaze over cake so it drips down the sides of the cake
  • When done, use your sprinkles, or colored sugars, or gels to decorate in the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold


Alrighty then, the food's on the table!

Let's Eat!

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post

The Legendary Mardi Gras Indian Tribes


This post first appeared on Rock & Roll Is A State Of Mind, please read the originial post: here

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Mardi Gras Eats: Swinging the good thing in the Kitchen with Chef JP!


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