French Quarter Flavors for Mardi Gras

Whether it be sipping chicory coffee and munching on world-famous beignets at Cafe du Monde, enjoying a drink at Lafitte's Blacksmith shop, or listening to blues pianists pay homage to Professor Longhair, New Orleans appeals to all the senses. My last fond memory of the Big Easy was nearly 10 years ago, walking through the Warehouse District in the heat of an August night after an amazing dinner at Emeril's chef's table. My husband and I had been recreating Emeril's over-the-top meals for years, and the dinners we enjoyed at both his Emeril's and NOLA establishments did not disappoint.

New Orleans is full of so many interesting people, sights, sounds, and flavors. There's no better time to celebrate the spirit of New Orleans than during Mardi Gras this week. The following Jambalaya dish is taken from Emeril Lagasse's cookbook, "New New Orleans Cooking" and adapted to be gluten free. Emeril has a pleasantly surprising number of products that are gluten free, including his Essence seasoning that I use below. Chock full of shrimp, chicken, and andouille sausage, this jambalaya stands as a meal all by itself. Don some beads and you're ready to eat! Finish off your New Orleans experience by brewing a pot of Chicory coffee, enjoying some So Delicious Coconut Vanilla Ice Cream with Pralines, and a nibble of Vosges Chocolate's Creole Bar.

Emeril's Jambalaya
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and chopped
1 cup boneless skinless chicken breast, chopped
1 cup gluten free andouille sausage (Aidell's Cajun Style Andouille, Al Fresco Roasted Garlic are two brands)
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
3 bay leaves
1 tsp worcestershire sauce (Lee & Perrin's brand is gluten free)
1 Tbsp Emeril's Essence (Original or Bayou Blast)
1 tsp salt
3 turns freshly ground pepper
3 cups cooked brown rice couscous or cooked brown rice (Lundberg's brand makes a gluten free rice couscous)

In a bowl, combine shrimp, chicken, and seasoning until well blended. Heat 2-3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a pan, adding the shrimp and chicken. Stir for 1-2 minutes, then add the sausage, onions, peppers, celery, and garlic and stir fry for an additional 1-2 minutes. Add in tomatoes, bay leaves, worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cooked brown rice couscous and let simmer for 5 more minutes until flavors are combined. Remove the bay leaves before serving.

New Orleans Pralines (Gluten Free and Dairy Free) and Ice Cream
2 tbsp Earth Balance shortening
1/2  cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
dash of sea salt
1/2 cup Silk Vanilla Almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract (McCormick's brand is gluten free)
1 cup chopped pecans
1 pint So Delicious Coconut Vanilla Ice Cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread pecans onto baking sheet.  Toast pecans in oven 5-10 minutes until slightly roasted. Remove and let cool. When cool, place into a bowl and line baking sheet with parchment paper in preparation for pralines.

In a saucepan, melt Earth Balance. Stir in sugars, salt and almond milk. Cover and bring to a boil until temperature reaches 240 degrees or near a firm ball stage (when a bit of the mixture is added to cold water, it should form a small ball). At that point, quickly add pecans, remove from heat, and add in vanilla extract. Once incorporated, drop mixture by tablespoon onto the lined baking sheet. Let cool. Scoop a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream, break pralines over ice cream, and enjoy!

 

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