Mardi Gras is coming up this Tuesday and even if you’re not in New Orleans, it’s certainly a reason to celebrate.
This time of year can be a little dull, so don’t let the fact that the holidays are long over get you down when the biggest party of the year is about to begin!
I’m not suggesting you have to have an all-out full on bash to get a little Mardi Gras in your life. I mean, you certainly would be justified in doing so. But I decided this year to just take it easy, whip up a couple little snacks reminiscent of New Orleans, and celebrate in my own living room. After all, they don’t call New Orleans The Big Easy for nothing!
Mardi Gras, is also referred to as Fat Tuesday. It actually means Fat Tuesday in French-who knew? It is reflective of the practice of indulging in rich, fatty foods before fasting season. If you weren’t sure Mardi Gras was a food holiday, you can be sure of it now.
For my Mardi Gras Munchies, I created a cocktail and sandwich paring that is a perfect representation of New Orleans, but is so simple to make it can be done in less than a half hour.
First we start with the cocktail, and I chose a Mint Julep.
You might associate a Julep only with the Kentucky Derby, but it’s also a staple of the New Orleans bar scene and is served up all over for Mardi Gras. What I love about a Mint Julep, is that it’s purely refreshing and delightful to drink, yet it is one of the simplest cocktails to make.
When you hear the phrase “classic cocktail” you should be aware of one thing-it will probably knock your socks off. The classics tend to have fewer ingredients and are heavy on the alcohol. They are not the watered down, fruity, and complicated cocktails of today, that tend to taste something like Hawaiian Punch. This is a good thing, but just something to be aware of as you knock one of these back.
All you have to do to serve up a set of four Mint Juleps is make a simple syrup infused with mint. Just combine 3/4 Cup sugar and 1 Cup water in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Drop in a few sprigs of fresh mint and stir until the sugar melts. Remove from the heat and let the mint steep in the liquid for another five minutes before discarding it. Fill four tumblers almost completely with crushed ice. Pour a shot of bourbon into each glass before filling it the rest of the way with the mint syrup. Top with a fresh mint sprig. It is pure minty heaven.
Now for a little nosh to go along with our sip.
How about a play on the classic Muffuletta Sandwich? I decided Micro Muffulettas using Mini Eggo Waffles would be perfection.
Mufuletta sandwiches are of course set apart by briny olive salad. You will find that many olive salads are very complex, requiring a lot of vegetables and spices. I’ve never seen the need for that however, because the salty, briny olives really overpower most flavors added to them, so I keep this salad very simple, with just a few important elements. It’s the perfect contrast against the creamy provolone, smoky ham, and spicy salami that is used in this bite.
I found these little round slices of provolone and salami at the store, but you can just use a cookie cutter to cut down regular sized slices. Better yet, just fold them in half and put them right on the sandwich.
The olive salad just has a bit of lemon juice, some red wine vinegar, and some chopped, fresh oregano. Very simple and tasty.
To put these little sammies together you just mix up the salad, toast the waffles, pile on the ingredients, and stab them with a party pic.
These are as pretty as they are tasty.
I hope you enjoy this little taste of Fat Tuesday. Now, if we only had the day off from work…I could just sit back with few of those Juleps.