Archive for February, 2006

Mardi Gras

On February 28th, the city of survivors, New Orleans, will celebrate the merrymaking carnival called Mardi Gras.  As an employee at Celebrity Foods, I am always curious about how holidays with so much emphasis on food came about.

 
According to InterCommerce Corporation, Mardi Gras “originated in the middle of the second century in Rome when the Fast of the 40 days of Lent was preceded by a feast of several days during which time participants delivered themselves up to voluntary madness, put on masks, clothed themselves like specters, and considered all pleasure allowable.” Mardi Gras was just simply called a “Carnival” back then. Mardi Gras was born in 1827 in New Orleans when a group of students back from going to school in Paris started dancing in the streets of New Orleans one day wearing costumes.

 
Now, that’s student activism.

 
According to AmericanCatholic.org, “its roots lie in the Christian calendar, as the ‘last hurrah’ before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.”  The official colors of Mardi Gras signify justice, faith, and power – purple being a symbol of justice; green being a symbol of faith; and gold signifying power.”

 
Justice looks quite flamboyant then to me….

 
The phrase “mardi gras” is French and means “Fat Tuesday” – implying the notion of eating a lot or indulging the day before Lent starts.

 

The traditional desert – King Cake

 
According to Emeril’s Food of Love Productions, “King Cake” became part of the Mardi Gras celebration “in 1870, when the Twelfth Night Revelers held their ball, with a large king cake as the main attraction. The story goes that the Twelfth Night Revelers would put a bean in the middle of the cake. The lucky gal to get a piece of cake with the bean in it was deemed the queen of the ball. Once the masses heard about the Twelfth Night Revelers boasting about the fun times with king cake, they all started to have their own king cake parties. 
 
If you think you’re the king cake at Mardi Gras or know of any Mardi Gras trivia you’d like to share, indulge us.

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Mardi Gras Party Plan

Since I can’t usually get to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, my buddies and I usually organize a big festive party of our own. We turn on the heat lamps out on the patio and fire the grill up. This is our version of Mardi Gras.

 
Supplies:

Paper & plastic everything – plates, napkins, silverware

 
We don’t want to have to clean up the aftermath of the party, like New Orleans does after Mardi Gras Day.

 
Everyone brings a signature dish. Since I’m an employee at Celebrity Foods, I have always had scrumptious food to choose from. The following are some of my past offerings to the crowd:

 
Appetizer – King Crab Legs

 
This appetizer is known far and wide beyond my crowd. Because of its tremendous flavor, friends of friends have been emailing me about trying this dish out since the first year I brought it out.

 
Entrees

 
         Flounder Del Rey

 
Stuffed with the most delectable crabmeat, I think this is my choice dish for this year’s party. It takes a little longer to prepare, about 20 minutes in the oven, but it’s worth the wait.

 
 
         Cajun Spiced & Grilled Rainbow Trout

 
Tender and full of  the spice Mardi Gras is known for, I can’t go wrong using this as my traditional dish to bring to grill up for the party if I want to socialize a bit more. It’s ready in about 10 minutes.

 
A Side Dish

 
         Red Beans & Minute Rice w/ a tad bit of  Medium Pace Picante Sauce & Chips

 
Classic taste is always welcome such as this, but it’s more of a compliment to one of the main dishes I usually bring.

 
Have any Mardi Gras plans? Do share. Let’s party like we’re in New Orleans! 

 
 
 

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Dining

“Dining is and always was a great artistic opportunity.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

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Machaca Ranch Steak Tacos

Now and then, I like to surprise a group of friends by inviting them over for dinner. Sometimes they return the invite. Being an employee of Celebrity Foods, some friends think I have an advantage. But my recipes are pretty simple. It’s just the food that’s always guaranteed to be great. Last week, I spiced up Taco Night with Machaca Ranch Steak Tacos.

 
“Machaca” is a Spanish word meaning shredded.

 
Servings per recipe – 4

Makes: 12 tacos

 
Ingredients

1 ½ lb Boneless Ranch Steak

16 oz jar of salsa

12 corn tortillas

½ cup oil or non-stick spray

shredded lettuce

shredded cheese

diced tomatoes

diced onions

 
Cooking Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place frozen Celebrity Foods Ranch Steak in a roasting pan, season with garlic salt, and pour a ½ jar of salsa on top. Cover with lid or foil and bake for 2 ½ hours or until meat is fork tender. Remove from oven and let cool for ½ hour with lid on. With two forks, shred and de-fat meat. Allow the juice to soak back into the steak. While the steak is cooling, start dressing the tortillas with the oil.

 
Tortillas:

Heat oil in a small pan until hot. Place a tortilla in oil, turning once. Each side should take 7 to 10 seconds. Place on a paper towel to soak up access oil. OR, spray the tortilla and then the hot pan with the non-stick spray and place sprayed side down and spray the other side. Turn the tortilla to cook the other side. Place on a paper towel.

 
Once the steak has cooled, fill each tortilla with the steak filling and fold each in half. Top with lettuce, cheese, diced tomatoes, and/or onions, whatever your favorite combo of tasty toppers may be.

 
If you have a special dish you like to share with friends sometimes that’s easy to make, do share!  All ideas for dinner parties are welcome. And maybe we could plan a dinner party together one day!  

 

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The History of LUV Day

Have birds always chirped and have flowers always perked up on February 14th, Valentine’s Day? Do all companies, like Celebrity Foods, decorate their offices with red hearts and streamers? The answer is no. Since Valentine’s Day only came into being in the 14th century, prior to that it was just another day in the dead of winter.

According to a CNN special in 2002, the day dedicated to love started as a result of author Geoffrey Chaucer and Saint Valentine. At the time, Chaucer was writing a poem for an arranged marriage to be and searching for a saint to honor on the couple’s engagement day. He chose Saint Valentine because as the feast honoring him corresponded with the day of the couple’s engagement. So inspired, Chaucer chose to write a poem called “The Parliament of Fowls”. For his poem, Chaucer dreamed up the idea that all birds found their mate on this couple’s engagement day, May 3rd. After Chaucer died, Valentine’s Day got pushed back to February because the first song birds that traditionally warble after winter tend to debut in mid-February.

If you know of any Valentine’s Day trivia, reply to this post. Share the love man.

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My Last Valentine’s Day Date

Last Valentine’s Day, I was camping with my honey, who happens to be an outdoor junkie, in Joshua Tree. When we go on our camping expeditions, we always like to bring good food. That is one of the coolest things about working at Celebrity Foods. I always have great food to choose from. On our last outing, I packed the Burgundy Wine Peppercorn Beef Kabobs. As it turns out, those kabobs were the only thing easy about our trip. To start, we were missing a couple of tent poles and the junkie was a bit grouchy (in their defense they were just getting over a cold). Eventually we tied off two ends of the tent to a tree. It was like an episode of survivor. Albeit with a full belly, it was a long, cold wet weekend. Take it from me, check your tent prior to entering the wilderness.

This year I don’t have the same date for Valentine’s Day (I’m still reeling from the last experience). However, I do intend to share those tender kabobs with my new honey for this Valentine’s Day’s menu. Some things on a date should be guaranteed (I’m talking about food here, people).

If food saved your Valentine’s Day experience, let me know by responding to this post. We have all experienced dating’s unpredictable nature.

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Love?

“If love is the answer, could you rephrase the question?”

– Lily Tomlin

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