The party is far from over. It has been a year since the Saints marched in to their first Super Bowl and, after 43 long seasons, emerged victorious. The celebrating continues. “Just making it to the playoffs was an exciting time, ” says Althea Kingsmill, a lifelong New Orleans football supporter and Mobile transplant. “Winning the game was an emotion I can’t describe. It was so overwhelming. I tear up just thinking about it.”
“Being a Saints fan is like being a member of a family, ” says Althea’s husband, Pat. “You love them unequivocally, which has been tough sometimes. Having them win the Super Bowl is like having an underachieving child graduate from Harvard.”
As die-hard devotees, Althea and Pat love to cook up NOLA specialties and entertain on game day. “I know lots of people enjoy being at the games, but we prefer a gathering at home with lots of cheering and yummy food, ” Althea says.
The Kingsmills, along with fellow fans Jennifer and Brooke Grehan, are all former New Orleanians. Both families weathered Hurricane Katrina and returned to their roots after the storm, only to end up moving to the Port City within the next year or two. Pat transferred here with Regions Bank, and Brooke arrived with International Shipholding Corp. The couples say the move has been a very happy one, largely because the two places have much in common.
“Mobile and New Orleans both have rich histories, ” Althea says. “As sister cities, they share similar cultures, and the familiarity in that is comforting. And, of course, there is Mardi Gras.”
The Grehans agree. “They each have carnival, historic architecture and fresh seafood, ” Jennifer says. “We have been blown away by the wonderful, warm welcome we received when we moved here.” She continues, “Mobilians are truly the epitome of Southern hospitality and social grace.”
Brooke chimes in: “We were also glad to see that the ‘Who Dat Nation’ is well represented here.”
“We love Mobile, ” Althea agrees. “How nice to land in a community that loves your home team as much as you do.”
BROOKE’S OYSTERS EN BROCHETTE
Brooke Grehan brought along his fryer to create this traditional, delectable dish during halftime.
4 – 8 cups peanut oil (depending on fryer size)
2 (12-ounce) boxes Zatarain’s Fish-Fri
1/4 cup Tony Chachere’s
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
2 quarts oysters, drained
1 pound bacon, partially cooked
in microwave, then cut
into square pieces
1. Fill fryer with peanut oil. Heat to 375 – 400 degrees.
2. Combine fish fry and Tony Chachere’s in a bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, mix eggs and milk to create eggwash. Dip oysters in eggwash and place oysters and bacon on skewers. Note: Use wooden skewers, and make sure they are short enough to fit lengthwise in the fryer. Dredge skewers in the fish fry mixture.
4. Place skewers into the fryer. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes, until golden. (Brooke suggests frying only 2 skewers at a time.)
5. Drain on paper towels. Makes approximately 12 – 15 skewers, depending on the size of the oysters.
This is Althea’s adaptation of a classic 1972 Junior League of New Orleans recipe in “The Plantation Cookbook.” She says this dish tastes best when allowed to stand several hours or overnight. Once prepared, let cool and refrigerate. (Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before serving. Heat quickly, without boiling, and serve immediately.) It also freezes well. French bread makes the ideal accompaniment to Shrimp Creole – and just about every other New Orleans dish, as well. Althea recommends Reising’s French bread. It can be purchased locally at Bebo’s on Old Shell Road at I-65. They bring it in from New Orleans twice a week.
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup bacon grease
2 cups chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped green onions
3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped celery, with leaves
1 teaspoon ground thyme
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 ounces tomato paste
1 (16-ounce) can tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with liquid
8 ounces tomato sauce
4 pounds raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined (save heads and shells for stock)
1 cup shrimp stock (made from boiling shrimp heads and shells), or 1 cup water
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups cooked rice
1. In a 4-quart Dutch oven, over medium heat, make a dark brown roux of flour and bacon grease.
2. Add onions, green onions, garlic, green pepper, celery, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Saute uncovered over medium heat about 30 minutes, until onions are transparent and soft. Add tomato paste and saute for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and shrimp stock (or water).
3. Simmer very slowly, partially covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
4. Add shrimp and cook about 5 minutes, until shrimp are just done. Add Tabasco, parsley and lemon juice. Stir, cover, and remove from heat.
5. Dish up over rice. Serves approximately 8 – 10.
MARDI GRAS SLAW
This carnival-colored coleslaw makes a festive addition to any casual New Orleans-style soiree. The recipe is adapted from the Junior League of New Orleans’ “Crescent City Collection Cookbook: A Taste of New Orleans.”
1/2 head green cabbage, chopped
1/2 head purple cabbage, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, cored and seeded
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1. Mix cabbages and bell pepper in a bowl.
2. Combine vinegar, sugar, celery seed and mustard in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for a minute or so, until sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool.
3. Pour over cabbage mixture and coat well. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves 8 – 10.
ALTHEA’S ARTICHOCKE LEAVES WITH CRABMEAT
Althea invented this attractive, tasty appetizer using favorite New Orleans ingredients.
2 large artichokes
1 pound crabmeat (Althea uses jumbo lump blackfin)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon capers, draineddash red pepper
1/4 cup grated onion
chopped chives to garnish, if desired
1. Steam artichokes and remove leaves.
2. Combine crabmeat with all other ingredients, except chives.
3. Place artichoke leaves on a platter, then top each leaf with a spoonful of crabmeat mix. Garnish with a sprinkling of chopped chives. Serves 8 – 12.
Pralines make a perfect pick-up sweet for parties. This recipe comes from Althea’s friend Liz English, affectionately known as “Mere, ” the French term for mother.
1 cup brown sugar (Mere likes to use 1/2 cup dark and 1/2 cup light)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups pecans
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1. Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring mixture to a boil. Continue cooking and stirring until mixture reaches the soft-ball stage, or 238 degrees on a candy thermometer.
2. Remove from stove and beat until mixture thickens.
3. Drop by the tablespoonful onto wax paper. Makes 1 – 2 dozen.