So, today is Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday.
In New Orleans, among other places, there will be much revelry. Parades and parties will abound. Booze will be flowing, breasts will be flashed, and beads will be thrown. I know this will come as a shock to some of you, but Mardi Gras is not really a holiday that celebrates breasts and the women that are brazen enough to flash them in exchange for cheap plastic bead necklaces.
Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is a day of feasting before the 40 days of the Lenten season begins. Lent represents the 40 days of fasting and prayer that Jesus spent in the desert. It is expected that Catholics and other Christians that observe Lent do so in solemn observance of that fact. Ash Wednesday and every Friday during Lent are spent fasting from red meat.
You may wonder why Mardi Gras feasting got started if all the next 40 days really meant giving up was red meat on Fridays. I mean, I could gorge myself on Lobster rolls on Fridays, and I’m not sure that feels really penitent. But many years ago, the entire 40 days of lent was spent in fast. Only the most austere of meals were consumed during this time. Lent was intended to be a time of reflection and penance, and this meant giving up much in the way of vices and luxuries, as Christ did in the desert. This meant not only giving up meat, but believers were also encouraged to give up luxuries as a way of being penitent.
When I was a kid, of course I gave up such delights as spinach and tomatoes.
As I got older and was able to understand the concept and embrace the reasoning, I gave up things like ice cream, or buying shoes (a true vice for me—I LOVE shoes).
So, as this is the last day before entering into the Lenten period, many people will eat that last pint of Blue Bell Cookies N Cream tonight. Or indulge in that last 14 oz ribeye or top shelf margarita. For 40 days.
Maybe, just maybe, they’ll buy their last pair of Jimmy Choo pumps, or their last pack of cigarettes for the next 40 days.
I know, I know—the horror of it all.
On a side note, today being Mardi Gras makes tomorrow Ash Wednesday…Also known as the Anniversary of The Time I Was Sent off To Ash Wednesday Mass By My Parents, But Went To The Mall Instead, Was Seen At The Mall By Mother (But Didn’t Know It), and Stopped By My Friend Ronnie’s House On The Way Home to Borrow a Piece Of Charcoal To Rub On My Forehead, And Then Got Home and Quizzed About Mass, Only To Look Over At My Little Sister, Who Was Dragging Her Finger Across Her Throat To Let Me Know I Was Dead Meat and The Jig Was Up…..
But Ash Wednesday rolls much easier off the tongue than all of that…
In the United States, the traditional colors used to celebrate Mardi Gras are Purple, Gold and Green….The beads, the masks, the parade floats will all be decked out accordingly. The King Cakes will be decadently iced in colored frostings, and icing sugars…
The cauliflowers will be brilliantly displayed…Wait….WHAT???
Have you seen some of the beautiful colors of cauliflower available these days? Vibrant hues of gold, orange, purple, bright green….They are really just beautiful. Given the colors available, I though Mardi Gras would be a great time to feature them in a recipe.
- 1 large leek
- 6 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 stick butter, divided
- 3 cups fresh corn kernels
- 3 cups frozen English peas
- 12 purple fingerling potatoes
- 1 head purple cauliflower, cleaned and trimmed
- 1 head gold cauliflower, cleaned and trimmed
- 1 head green cauliflower, cleaned and trimmed
- ¾ cup heavy cream OR fat-free half and half
- Salt, pepper
- Meat of choice, if desired:
- —sliced cooked corned beef brisket
- —pan seared cod
- —roasted chicken
Place potatoes in a large saucepan, and cover with water and 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to boil over medium high heat, and boil for 15-20 minutes, until done. Drain water off. Place potatoes on cutting board and add 2 tablespoons butter to the saucepan and melt. Carefully slice potatoes, and place in a serving bowl. Pour melted butter over.
Place corn in a skillet with 2 tablespoons butter, salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium high heat stirring occasionally, until corn begins to caramelize, about 20 minutes.
Place peas in a large saucepan or skillet, with 1 tablespoon butter and ½ cup water. Heat over medium-high heat until simmering. Reduce heat to low and keep warm.
Cut a ½ inch off the white end of the leek, and cut the green part off, leaving about 3 inches of green attached to the leek. Cut the leek in half lengthwise, and then slice very thinly. Place in a large skillet or Dutch oven with 3 tablespoons of butter, over medium high heat. Add garlic, and sauté for 5 minutes, until softened. Add cauliflower, and 2 cups water. Cover and cook until cauliflower is soft, but not mushy, about 8 minutes.
Use a large slotted spoon to remove cauliflower to platter to drain. Place yellow cauliflower into food processor with one third of the leek and garlic mixture from the pan. Add ¼ cup cream, and 2 Tablespoons butter. Pulse until completely smooth. Remove to a serving bowl. Repeat with the green and then the purple cauliflowers.
Arrange the three purees in a three-petal pattern around plate. Arrange vegetables opposite their same color puree. If serving with a meat choice, arrange in the center of the plate.
Even the leftovers are beautiful!!