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Monday, March 17, 2014

MARCH MADNESS!!!

Obviously I'm looking for anything to celebrate and cheer for until football season rolls around again!  I'm entertaining while watching NCAA Basketball games, and it seemed appropriate to throw in a nod to Mardi Gras this time of year as well with some cajun flavor!  It's been warmer in Atlanta lately too, so I'm dreaming of long summer nights and more low country boil dinners....



Here's the menu:
BOILED PEANUTS
PIMENTO CHEESE AND CRACKERS
LOW COUNTRY BOIL with cocktail sauce
BUTTER BEAN HUMMUS
APPLE CABBAGE SLAW
FRENCH BREAD
NANAIMO BARS
ARNOLD PALMERS


PIMENTO CHEESE
(Adapted from Bobby Flay)


Photo Credit: Food Network
4 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
4 ounces Monterey jack cheese, grated
1/4 cup (2 ounces) pimentos (with juice)
1 pickled jalapeno, finely chopped (optional)
1/4 yellow onion, grated
2 TBSP mayonnaise
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper

Pulse the grated cheeses in a food processor until they're in small pieces. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and add the pimentos, jalapeños (if using) and onion. Add half the mayo at first, then gradually add more until the desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Serve with crackers, chips and/or crudités.

 BUTTER BEAN HUMMUS with pita chips

2 15-ounce cans butter beans or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup roughly chopped red onion or shallot
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 to 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine beans, mint, parsley, onion, lemon juice and lime juice. Blend until almost smooth. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup of the oil, adding more if necessary until the desired consistency is reached. You can make it slightly chunky or purée it until completely smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


LOW COUNTRY BOIL with cocktail sauce
(Adapted from all recipes)
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
This recipe serves a lot of people!  Easily can be halved for a smaller crowd.
5 lbs of frozen Snow Crab legs (if desired)
3 lbs of large shrimp, unpeeled
3lbs of crawfish or conch (if desired)
3 lbs of andouille sausage, cut into 2-3 inch pieces and browned in a skillet
8 ears of corn, cut in half
5 lbs new potatoes, cut in half
2 boil-in-a-bags (Spicy optional) such as Zatarains
6 lemons (4 cut in half for the boil, 2 sliced into wedges for garnish)
1-2 light beers
Hot sauce to taste
Cocktail sauce and lemon butter for dipping
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Add the boil bags, lemon halves, beer, and hot sauce to a large pot of water, filled to about half way, and bring to a boil.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Once boiling, add the sausage and potatoes and cook for roughly 10 minutes. Next, add the corn and crab and cook for another 5-7 minutes.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Finally, add the shrimp, crab legs (if using) and crawfish (if using), and cook for no more than 3-4 additional minutes.
Remove contents from the pot and lay out on a newspaper-covered picnic table. Serve with cocktail sauce and lemon butter.  Gorgeous AND delicious meal!!!

Cocktail Sauce
1 cup ketchup
1 cup Heinz chili sauce
1/3 cup prepared horseradish
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1-1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
A few drops of hot sauce, such as Tabasco
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
In a medium bowl combine the ketchup, chili sauce, horseradish, lemon zest and juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and pepper. Whisk together and let sit for at least an hour before serving.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
APPLE CABBAGE SLAW
(Adapted from Sassafras Catering)

Photo Credit: Brian Feulner Oregan live 
5 cups shredded green cabbage
2 Granny Smith apples, cut into small cubes
1 cup minced sweet onion, such as vidalia

Dressing:
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup mayonnaise
Juice from 1 medium lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large bowl, mix the cabbage, apples and onion together. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mayo and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the cabbage mixture, and stir to combine.

NANAIMO BARS
(Adapted from I Adore Food)


Photo Credit: I Adore Food
Nanaimo Bars (N.B.s for short) are one of Canada's favorite desserts. The city of Nanaimo, British Columbia claims these squares as their own, saying on their website that it all began when a Nanaimo housewife entered a recipe for chocolate squares in a magazine contest some 35 years ago. She called her recipe 'Nanaimo Bars' and when she won the contest, not only did her dessert become popular throughout Canada, so did the town they were named after. These no-bake, three layered bars are famous for a reason, they are fabulous. They start with a crumb base, followed by a layer of light custard buttercream, and the finale is a glossy layer of chocolate.
    
1/2 cup of butter, room temperature
1/4 cup of white sugar
5 TBSP of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 egg, beaten
1 3/4 cup of graham cracker crumbs
1 cup of coconut flakes
1/2 cup of butter, room temberature
3 TBSP of heavy cream
2 TBSP of vanilla pudding mix (instant)
2 cups of powdered sugar
4 oz. of semi-sweet chocolate
2 tsp butter

(The first 6 ingredients are for the bottom layer) On top of a double boiler, combine 1/2 cup butter, white sugar and cocoa powder. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Beat in the egg, stirring until thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in the graham cracker crumbs and coconut .
In a 8x8 inch pan, put parchemin paper (enough to overlap on all 4 sides). Press the batter down in the pan to form the first layer.
For the middle layer, cream together 1/2 cup butter, heavy cream and the vanilla pudding powder powder until light and fluffy. Mix in the confectioners' sugar until smooth. Spread over the bottom layer in the pan. Chill to set.
While the second layer is chilling, melt the semisweet chocolate and 2 teaspoons butter together in the microwave or over low heat. (I take the chocolate out every 10 seconds or so to mix it and make sure it does not burn. The whole thing usually takes about 90 seconds.)
Spread over the chilled bars. Let the chocolate set before cutting (in the fridge for half an hour). When the chocolate has set, lift the whole thing out of the pan by lifting with the parchment paper. Cut about a 1/4 inch trim around the four sides, and then cut squares, making sure you clean your knife frequently so the bars are clean looking.
Enjoy!


OH, and one more thing---
GO GATORS and GO CATS!!!!!

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