Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?
I’ve had that song playing in my head for the past few days. As I sit here writing this, I’m listening to Louis Armstrong’s live version. In the original, Billie Holliday and Louis Armstrong professed their love and longing for the Crescent City in a way that anyone who’s been there can feel in their bones. New Orleans is a city full of mystery and magic. And, as I mentioned in my last post, a place I haven’t seen in a long time and miss dearly.
One of the most iconic foods that people associate with New Orleans is beignets. No trip to that fair city is complete without the requisite stop at Café Du Monde for beignets and their marvelous cafe’ au lait made from their special coffee with chicory. Old Jackson Square to one side, and the Mississippi River on the other, you know you’re in the heart of New Orleans as you sit down to eat in the open air watching people stroll by. The smell of the river blowing by on the breeze . Leaving with a full belly, covered in powdered sugar, and the perfect caffeine buzz to spur you through a day of strolling down the streets of The French Quarter. It’s divine in it’s simplicity.
As everyone celebrates Mardi Gras in The Big Easy today, I long to be there. Instead I’ll do the next best thing and bring a little piece of NOLA to me. Though the breezes outside are laced with the scent of freshly fallen snow, I can still eat delightfully light and crispy beignets, cover myself with powdered sugar and sip a cup of chicory coffee cafe’ au lait while listening to Louis sing about “that lazy Mississippi hurryin’ into spring“. Simply divine.
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1/4 C. warm water (110-115 degrees)
- 1/2 C. vegetable oil
- 1/4 C. sugar
- 1 egg
- 4 C. flour
- 2 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbs. baking powder
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Confectioners sugar
- In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.
- Once the yeast is bubbling, add the milk, oil, sugar, egg, and 2 cups of the flour.
- Beat with a mixer on low until smooth.
- Stir in enough remaining flour until all the ingredients incorporate and forms a soft dough. Do not knead.
- Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Punch dough down.
- Turn out onto a floured surface, and roll out in a rectangle to approximately 1/4 inch thickness.
- Cut the dough into 2 inch squares.
- In an electric-skillet, deep-fat fryer, or tall sided heavy pot, heat the oil to 375 degrees.
- Fry the squares, a couple at a time, until golden brown on both sides. Be sure to watch carefully, they only need a couple minutes on each side.
- Remove form the oil with a metal slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels.
- While still warm roll the beignets in powdered sugar, or dust generously with confectioners sugar using a small wire-mesh strainer/sieve.
- Serve warm.