Let the good times roll, indeed.
Mardi Gras, as you probably know, is French for Fat Tuesday. And that is the day to observe the tradition of eating rich, fatty foods the last night before the fasting of the Lenten season, which begins today on Ash Wednesday.
Here at Maples at the Sonatas, we have another tradition—that of turning minor holidays into major celebrations. So it was that a couple dozen of us came together last night for the feast known as our Fat Tuesday Potluck.
Thanks to our social committee, we arrived to a festive room. With the beads and bottles of wine, we could almost pretend we were in New Orleans.
Some of us, like Joe, are fortunate enough to have visited the Big Easy and have a shirt to prove it.
The centerpiece of any potluck, of course, is the food and drink. And we had an abundance of both.
The stars of the evening were our talented neighborhood cooks. What an amazing selection of dishes overflowed our serving area. Everything was wonderful. Here, for example, are three of the favorite dishes, complete with recipes furnished by the cooks.
First, a most traditional Mardi Gras offering— Linda’s
1 lb. Polish or smoked sausage, cut into ¼ inch slices
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 in. cubes
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 C. uncooked rice
2 C. water
½ lb fresh or frozen uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 T. minced fresh parsley
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. salt
½ t. dried thyme
¼ to ½ t. cayenne pepper
Saute sausage for 1 minute. Add chicken and saute 3 minutes longer. Add the celery, onion, green pepper and garlic; saute for 2 minutes or until vegetables are crisp tender. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink; stir. Let stand for 5 minutes to absorb any remaining liquid before serving. Fluff with fork. 8 servings.
Diana created this masterpiece that she saw on Facebook. She claims it was easy to make.
17 oz of flour
1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon salt
12 oz of boiled spinach
12 oz ricotta
3 oz of grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper
1-Place all dough ingredients in a stand mixer. Using the dough hook, knead until the dough is smooth and combined. Wrap in plastic while you make the filling.
2-To create the filling, mix the spinach with the ricotta.
Next, add your egg, Parmesan, and salt and pepper. Mix well. Set aside briefly.
3-Unwrap your dough from the plastic and divide it into two equal parts.
4-Using a rolling pin, roll out each dough ball to create two circles 30 cm in diameter each.
5-On your first circle, sprinkle breadcrumbs over-top to help absorb the moisture of the filling and to keep the dough dry.
6-Distribute the filling on the circle that was just sprinkled with breadcrumbs.
7-Place one large dollop at the center of the circle, and spread the remainder in a ring around the dough. See the picture below for reference.
At this point, I would recommend that you follow this link to the complete directions. There are pictures that will make the process easier to follow. (Do not be afraid of clicking the link. It is safe. I’ve done it.) However, do be careful of one thing. This is an Italian recipe, so the baking temperature is given in Celsius. After conversion to Fahrenheit, you will be setting your oven to 350.
And, finally, Fat Tuesday is all about dessert. Here is one that is both beautiful and delicious—Sylvia’s
Unsalted butter, for pan
¾ C. sugar, plus more for pan
1 ½ pounds (3C.) whole milk ricotta cheese
6 large eggs, separated, room temperature
1/3 C. all-purpose flour
1 packed T. finely grated orange zest
¼ t. salt
- Preheat oven to 350. Generously butter a 9-inch spring form pan; dust with sugar to coat. Whisk together ricotta, egg yolks, flour, 6 T. sugar, the zest, and salt in a large bowl.
- With an electric mixer on low speed, whisk egg whites until foamy. Raise speed to high and gradually add remaining 6 T. sugar, whisking until stiff, glossy peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes. Gently fold 1/3 of the whites into ricotta mixture, using a flexible spatula, until just combined. Gently fold in remaining whites until just combined.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until center is firm and top is deep golden brown, about 60 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of cake to loosen; release side to remove from pan and cool completely. (Cheesecake can be refrigerated, covered loosely with plastic wrap, up to 3 days. Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes before serving.)
- Just before serving, put fresh blackberries with a little sugar and fresh-squeezed lemon juice on top of the cake.