Laissez bon temps roulez, Valentine!
Every few years mid-February explodes with reasons to celebrate, when Mardi Gras coincides with Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day a week from Saturday, Fat Tuesday on the 17th, and lots of people being off work on the 16th for President’s Day, we’re in a tizz coming up with tasty ways to let the good times roll.
Valentine’s Day should be about spending time with your beloved, not about sweating in the kitchen, so we’re not going to make you feel guilty with recipes. Instead, we’ll set you up with the goods to make your Valentine’s Day delicious. Set the mood with wine and cheese. Vermont’s award-winning Old Chatham Sheepherding Company’s limited edition heart-shaped camembert arrived this week, along with Missouri’s own World Cheese Award-winner – Coeur de la Creme goat cheese hearts from Baetje Farms in Bavarian Lemon Creme and Dark Chocolate Raspberry. Serve along with the Choco’Berry Press from Grace & I. These hand-crafted, all-natural bars feature raspberries, strawberries, coconut, white chocolate, and almonds.
Go the traditional route with a box of candy from Juniper, including their cherry divinity. Need flowers? Alice Blue Co. will have bouquets in the shop on Valentine’s Day.
We’ve been putting together lots of sweet little gifts, too: sets of Quince & Apple preserves, adorable mini tins of smoked sugar, sea salt and paprika from Bourbon Barrel Smoked Foods, and breakfast in bed gift boxes with Juniper biscuit mix, Stringbean Coffee, Kakao chocolate hearts, bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup, and preserves.
Are you finished basking in the glow of your love yet? Because there’s Mardi Gras cooking to do! Today our tiny kitchen is filled with wonderful aromas of wild mushroom andouille gumbo, and fig and sweet tea bread pudding. Come into Larder & Cupboard on Saturday, February 7th to sample both, along with cheeses from Fox River Dairy and chutneys from Legacy.
I’ve always loved making gumbo, even though it can be a bit time-consuming. It’s a meditative process, stirring the roux. I don’t make it very often, but when I do I go for a big batch and plan for a party. If you know how to make a roux, your gumbo flavoring options are endless. For this batch I used Williams Brothers Andouille sausage from Washington, Missouri, Ozark Forest’s Oriental Mix of Missouri-grown dried wild mushrooms, and an unexpected flavor boost from Missouri Wild Edibles‘ mushroom miso paste.
Wild Mushroom and Andouille Gumbo
Yield: 5 quarts/10 servings
1 quart boiling water
2 1-ounce packets Ozark Forest Oriental Mushroom mix
½ cup butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 green pepper, chopped
1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 lb. Williams Brothers andouille, cut into 1″ rounds
2 tablespoons Missouri Wild Edibles Mushroom Miso Paste, or more to taste
- Pour boiling water into a large bowl. Add Ozark Forest Dried Chanterelles and Dried Woodland Medley. Let sit at least 15 minutes. Remove mushrooms. Strain any grit from the water. Reserve remaining liquid.
- Make the roux: melt butter in a heavy-bottomed stockpot. Slowly whisk in flour. Stirring constantly, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot, cooking until the roux until it’s the color of peanut butter, then lower heat. Keep cooking and stirring until the roux’s dark copper. This entire process will take 30-45 minutes.
- Add pepper, onion, and celery. Increase heat and stir vegetables into roux for 5 minutes. Add garlic and sausage, and cook for another two minutes. Add hot sauce.
- In another pot, heat reserved mushroom water, plus two quarts of water. Slowly whisk water into the roux mixture. Add mushrooms. Bring gumbo to a simmer. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for an hour.
- Whisk in miso paste and add andouille. Heat through, but don’t boil.
- Serve in bowls over rice and season with hot sauce.
Bread pudding’s the quintessential New Orleans dessert, and it’s not hard to find it on menus. It’s a simple dish designed to utilize leftover bread. The combination of bread and custard makes a great palette for so many other flavors. I started my batch with Harvest White from our neighbors at Great Harvest Bread Company, which has a great balance of sweet and sour, and is soft enough to soak up the custard. From there, I searched our shop for flavors that make me think of Louisiana – figs and sweet tea.
Fig and Sweet Tea Bread Pudding
1 Earl Gray teabag
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 loaf day-old French bread, torn into 1″ pieces
2 cups heavy cream
1 cups sugar
1/2 Grace + 1 Fig and Nut Bar, coarse chopped
1 tablespoon lemon zest, grated
½ 6-oz jar Quince & Apple Figs and Black Tea Preserves
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon Seed Geeks honey
- Steep tea bag in 1 cup heavy cream, covered and chilled 8-12 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine bread and 2 cups heavy cream in a large mixing bowl. Squish bread into cream until it’s completely absorbed.
- In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, then add sugar, Fig and Nut Bar, and lemon zest. Pour over the bread mixture. Stir to combine.
- Pour melted butter into a 9″x9″ baking pan, swirling to coat the bottom and sides. Press half of the bread mixture into the pan. Spread Figs and Black Tea Preserves over the bread layer.
Top with remaining bread mixture. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the edges begin to pull away from the pan.
- While bread pudding is baking, remove teabag from cream. Whip with 2 cups heavy cream and honey. Use to top bread pudding.
And now you have yourself a party fit for three holidays.