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Valentine's Day/Mardi Gras MashUp

This year we decided to take advantage of the calendar and have a little fun with our Valentine's Day dinner. Since both the Hallmark designated day of love (too sarcastic?) and Mardi Gras fell in the same week, we thought doing a MashUp of the two might be fun. It should be noted that we never, and I mean never, go out to eat on Valentine's Day. Most restaurant chefs (if they were being honest) would tell you that it is literally impossible to produce their best food when they are crushed by the types of crowds that populate restaurants on that oh so special day of love (sheesh, I just can't seem to help myself). So, for us, a home cooked meal it is.

Those of you that have read this blog in the past know that I am the luckiest guy in the world to be married to Cynthia who, among her many talents, is an excellent cook who pays attention to not only the palate but the presentation. This particular meal, served in five courses, was romantic, spicy, fun, soul satisfying and delicious. My compliments to the cook!

First Course: Quick Fried Okra Spears

This simple starter is made by dipping the okra in butter milk and hot sauce and then dredging it in spiced corn meal. Fry for about 45 seconds and lightly salt. Yum.

Second Course: Fried Catfish Filet with a Homemade BBQ Sauce served on a Maytag Blue Cheese Slaw

I lived in Alabama for a few years a long time ago. One of the things I took away from that time was a love of fried catfish. The homemade BBQ sauce and the blue cheese slaw are a nod to a dish from one of our favorite restaurants in Las Vegas, Rosemary's, which served it with shrimp. I think I may like this version even better.

Third Course: Citrus Salad with Local Greens

After two fried courses, a palate cleanser was in order. The blood oranges, pink grapefruit and mandarin oranges offset perfectly with the greens from our winter garden and my house made vinaigrette.

Fourth Course: Shrimp and Grits with a Spicy Bacon, Sausage and Mushroom Gravy

Shrimp and grits is a classic southern/cajun dish. In this version, the shrimp were poached in butter and garlic and the gravy was "kicked up a notch (or two) with a liberal shot of hot sauce and cayenne pepper.

Fifth Course: Ice Cream Sandwiches with Homemade Cherry Vanilla 

 A couple of years ago we bought a very good gelato maker.We don't use it often, but when we do, it make amazing gelato. For this little treat, we used cherry vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two home made chocolate chip cookies. A perfect ending to a great meal!


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