We may be in the midst of prime summertime, and there’s still fall and the whole holiday season ahead, but we’re getting ready and counting the days to one of the most exciting cultural events in the country. Yes, you guessed it. Mardi Gras, the iconic Carnival celebration, is just six months away and thus it’s not too early to mark your calendars and make your plans for this incredible, weeks-long event filled with music, parades, costumes and the true spirit of the South.
Ignore the snow outside because inside Timothy’s Restaurant in Union Pier, Michigan, it’s New Orleans during Mardi Gras season, purple, green and yellow beads and all.
As he does every year, owner/executive chef Timothy Sizer kicks it up several notches, does a few Emeril “bams” and goes all out for this Louisiana celebration. He mixes up the menu each year but there are always such staples as gumbo, etouffee and jambalaya.
This year the menu also includes Fried Louisiana Oysters, Red Beans and Rice, Fried Green Tomatoes with Crawfish Sauté and Cajun Remoulade, Blackened Red Fish Meunier served with Pecan Butter and, my new favorite, Warm Crawfish Cheese Dish. Regarding the latter, our server told us they all wait eagerly for this time of year so they can eat it up. There’s also a selection of desserts such as King Cake, pecan pie and beignets all served with house made praline ice cream.
Tim, who is originally from St. Joseph, moved to Florida after graduating from Johnson & Wales University College of Culinary Arts in Rhode Island and worked at several Florida restaurants and owned one as well, specializing on fish and Cajun/Creole cuisine. When I asked him why he returned about 15 years ago—it was really cold out that night and Florida sounded very good—he said it was the pull of being back home.
Lucky for us.
Timothy’s Mardi Gras celebration ends on February 23.
The following recipes are courtesy of Timothy’s Restaurant.
Yield 2 cocktails
2 ounces cognac
2 ounces Rye whiskey
Juice of ½ lemon, fresh
1 ounce Pernod
Lemon peel for garnish
2 large square or round ice cubes
Mix cognac, rye, lemon juice and Pernod. Place ice cube in each glass, Pour drink mixture evenly. Garnish each glass with lemon peel.
3 ribs celery, diced
1 onion, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 tablespoon, minced
2 cups olive oil
8 ounces cheddar cheese
8 ounces sour cream
1 ounce Worcestershire sauce
2 ounces horseradish sauce
2 teaspoons cayenne
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 ounce salt
8 ounces crawfish tail meat
Heat skillet add olive oil and sauté garlic and vegetables. Add cheese, cream, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, cayenne, black pepper and salt and cook for ten minutes on low heat. Blend and then add crawfish tail meat.
Serve with buttered toast points seasoned with Paul Prudhomme Blackening Seasoning.
16 ounces fish stock (can substitute vegetable or chicken stock)
½ teaspoon or more, to taste for each: cayenne, black pepper, thyme and salt
1 bay leaf
Can use cooked shrimp (21/25 grade), crawfish (one pound package frozen) or chicken (2 large chicken breasts, diced and sautéed until not longer pink but not thoroughly cooked)
Parsley, for garnish
3 to 4 cups cooked rice.
Sauté vegetables in olive oil until vegetables are soft. Dust all ingredients with flour, add sherry and stock.
Add cayenne, black pepper, basil, thyme, bay leaf and salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add shrimp and crawfish or chicken if using instead. Next line place rice in the middle of each serving bowl. Add etouffee. Garnish with parsley.
Jane Ammeson can be contacted via email at email@example.com .