Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mardi Gras Brunch


Because of how festive, colorful and fun it looks, I have long wanted to host a Mardi Gras party.  As a California girl, I've always been curious about what Mardi Gras in New Orleans was all about.  So, I researched the event and found out so many interesting facts.  If you are curious too, I hope you'll continue to read on.  I invite you to see what I discovered, and, if I have any of my facts wrong, or if you want to add anything, please feel free to correct or enlighten me.

To begin,  I constructed invitations for my Mardi Gras brunch by simply printing three rings of Mardi Gras colors, then glue-dotting three coins and an array of feathers.  By this, I hoped to set the mood for a fun event.  On the envelope I attached a mask with the invitees name written on the mask, and attached a few more feathers. 

It was surprising how super fun this party was!  I always hope my guests and I will have fun when I plan an event. This Mardi Gras Brunch did not disappoint, it was really special, and relaxed.  




As my guests arrived, they were greeted by me and the Mardi Gras wreath I constructed for under $15 with Dollar Store gift bows, a pool noodle, taped and wrapped in a purple plastic tablecloth.  I then affixed a glittered Fleur De Les (found at a floral supply store) on the wreath and attached some mask beads and there it was, shiny and welcoming.

Each guest was presented with three strings of beads and a mask to wear upon entering.  We then gathered in the kitchen and partook of Disneyland Mint Juleps prepared by Darlene.  They were exactly like the ones you have in New Orleans Square.  Along with the tasty Mint Juleps, we had authentic Beignets made by Cindy and Loraine.  The rest of us had fun watching them dip the dough in the hot oil and lay them aside for dusting with powdered sugar and consuming.  They were delicious and it was so much fun to sample what they make in New Orleans.



The table was set and ready to celebrate and discover what exactly Mardi Gras is all about.  Below each purple charger there were strips of paper with an interesting Mardi Gras fact to share.


Here's the beignets, and me! It was fun to dress the part. I loved the festive look!! 
The feathers were molting all over the house however :- /



Darlene's Disneyland Mint Juleps...Yummmm!
Click Here For Recipe




Mary Ann is one delightful character. 
 I don't think there is anyone who likes to party more than she and I!


So many elements went into decorating the table, including traditional beads and masks.  One wine bottle serving as a vase was covered in Mardi Gras beads. Each lady was given a black velvet covered head band with feathers and a sequin to wear and take home.

 We learned what the three traditional colors of Mardi Gras stand for:  
Purple stands for justice, green stands for peace, and gold represents power.

Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday.  It is the day that precedes Ash Wednesday, a Catholic Holiday which begins forty days of fasting during Lent prior to Easter Sunday. Mardi Gras celebrations begin any time after Epiphany, which is the twelfth night after Christmas, when the three kings were said to arrive in Bethlehem to visit the baby Jesus.

It has become a huge carnival in places throughout the world absent the original meaning. Or perhaps better said, "Blown out of proportion". In the French Quarter of New Orleans, there is much drunkenness, flashing, and general mayhem as people go a little crazy.  In many respectable Krewes (communities within cities) in New Orleans, people make it a beautiful and colorful celebration.  They celebrate with costumes, masks, and throw beads, toys, colored coins, and various items from their floats to the by-standers.  I learned that by law, people on floats had to wear masks.  I'm told taxi drivers and the locals can tell you where the best parades are.

The colored and imprinted coins are custom designed to each Krewe and usually have an emblem that represents something unique to that Krewe.  Aren't you glad you know that?

 Mary Ann made the delicious Paula Deen Broccoli Salad.  it was amazing!





Talk about coordination!  World Market carries these Mardi Gras colored chips for the celebrations.  That is kicking it up a notch!




Above is an individual crab omelet cooked in a ramekin at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. It was topped with Hollandaise sauce and salsa. The Jambalaya was authentic and tasty.  My most amazing discovery of the celebration was the out-of-this-world delicious Muffuletta Sandwich. I found this recipe while searching for recipes on Pinterest.  This sandwich will now be included in many meals in the months and years to come.  I can't tell you how good it is. You MUST try it some time.  Men LOVE it too!  The flavors dance around in your mouth. While this recipe is original to Italy, I read it has become a traditional sandwich at Mardi Gras.

I changed the recipe a bit by using a jar of pickled vegetables including cauliflower, cocktail onion, celery and carrots.  I added a half a cup of Kalamata olives  (be sure to de-pit them first!), 1 cup of green olives with pimentos, 1 large clove of garlic, finely minced, 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, 1/2 cup virgin olive oil and whisked them on "Chop" mode on my food processor.  The flavors become amazing when you let this mixture set overnight.

The Muffulettas for my brunch were baked at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, but these are absolutely delicious not baked.  I've had left-over Muffulettas for three days now! 



I get so excited when a layered dessert turns out perfect!  The traditional Mardi Gras colors are layered first with grape Jell-O, then Lemon, then lime.  It was really delicious and very pretty to look at.  I saved the mixture of sugar that fell onto my waxed paper from decorating the rims with frosting and colored sugars, and then place a few pinches atop the whipped cream.  Isn't this fun looking?!  Why yes, it is!

To my delight, Jell-O creations are enjoying a comeback at my parties because people really seem to like Jell-O!  They are simple, but you can make them look so elegant. I am totally into the visual beauty of an event, including the food. The coolness of the Jell-O and whipped cream really adds that feeling a refreshment. The creative embellishments add the grande finale.  What is really great is they are very low cost but look like a really expensive creation.  I like them...a lot!  And so did my guests. :!)



Last, but not least, came the individual King Cakes.  Such a simple recipe.  It isn't authentic, but it was perfect and represented the original well.   The tradition is to make a single larger braided cake. A plastic baby representing Jesus, is hidden within the cake, after it is baked and cooled.  The person who receives the piece with the baby, is supposed to have good luck in the coming year, and GETS to make the King Cake the following year. 
 
Linda found the baby in her cake!
You can borrow my stuff next year, Linda!  ;-)


Here we all are!  Well, I'm taking the picture.  I believe everyone had a delightful time and I wouldn't hesitate to have a Mardi Gras Party again.  I loved that it was a brunch too, because people had the rest of their day to themselves and clean up was finished with energy.