Mardi Gras Recipes

Mardi Gras

      Louisiana and New Orleans have a rich tradition that involves some of the best cooking in the world. There are two styles of cooking that the area is famous for, Cajun and Creole. They are similar in that they both took advantage of what was available including rice, seafood, chicken pork and peppers, but there are differences.

Cajuns are of French dissent. Cajuns, from France originally, were living in Nova Scotia and then migrated to Louisiana when the British drove them out in the mid-1700’s. They lived as they had lived in Canada, off the land. They settled largely along waterways and survived by trapping, hunting and fishing. Cajun style cooking is considered country or home style and is solely French in its roots.

Creole cooking specifically developed in New Orleans. During it’s early history the flags of seven different countries flew over New Orleans at various times. Creole is a mix of all these cuisines including French, Spanish, Italian, Native American, African-American and others. As each new group came in the cooks tended to remain. Their skills were highly prized and as they learned to cook for an unfamiliar culture old recipes and techniques would stay. Creole is considered more refined and sophisticated. Where Cajun is country, Creole is definitely city cooking. Whatever the differences, both styles of cooking are wonderful and worth enjoying even if you aren’t in New Orleans.

Creole Spice


1 t. each black, red and white pepper

½ t. thyme

¼ t. dry mustard

¼ t. mace

1 bay leaf, crumbled fine or powdered


Combine all ingredients and store in a cool, dry place. Use sparingly, it is HOT!


Creole Seafood Seasoning


3 T. paprika

3 T. dried minced onion

2 T. salt

2 T. dried minced garlic

1 T. freshly ground black pepper

1 T. cayenne pepper

1 T. dried thyme

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container. Great on all types of seafood including shellfish.

Cajun Seasoning

2 T. paprika

2 T. dried thyme

1 T. garlic powder

1 T. dried celery leaves, or dried parsley

1 T. celery seeds

1 T. salt

2 t. cayenne

2 t. freshly ground black pepper

2 t. ground white pepper

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container.  Great in all sorts of dishes including rice and meat dishes.

  Creole Jambalaya

1 lb. smoked sausage, sliced into 1-inch pieces

1 c. chopped onions

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1/4 c. oil

2 c. cubed uncooked chicken

3 c. water

1 1/2 c. uncooked rice

1 16 oz. can tomatoes

2 T. instant chicken base or 6 bouillon cubes

2-3 t. paprika

Cayenne pepper to taste

Black pepper to taste

1/4 t. ground turmeric

1 lb. medium shrimps, peeled and de-veined, uncooked

1 1/2 c. frozen peas

1/2 c. chopped red pepper

1 lb. mussels, optional

In Dutch oven cook sausage, onion and garlic in oil until onion is tender. Add remaining ingredients, except shrimp, peas, sweet red peppers and mussels. Bring to a boil, turn down to simmer and cook 20 minutes. Stir in shrimp, and peppers, cover and cook 10 minutes. Stir in peas and stick in mussels, if desired. Cover and cook 5 more minutes. Discard any mussels that have not opened in 5 minutes. Serves 8.


Roux is the basis for many dishes in New Orleans cooking. It is a mixture of some sort of fat like butter or oil and flour cooked together and used to thicken sauces. It is the same method for making a white sauce. The difference is that in Cajun and Creole cooking the roux is cooked until it starts to turn color, often until it gets so dark it will almost looked burned. Adds a rich flavor but be careful not to burn it as it will ruin the dish.


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