Swinging The Good Thing in the Mardi Gras Kitchen

Ah yes!  Here we are again at another Mardi Gtas week of  fun, music and tasty items!  This year, I thought it would be fun to share with all of you some of my Mardi Gras recipes that i served up my various restaurants over the years. 

My introduction to the cusine of New Orleans took place in 1961 in New Orleans where I was living with my family,.  My Dad was an army doctor who was in charge of running a large medical hospital right by Lake Pontchartrain.  During my time there I became overwhelmed by the magical essence of the music, food and genuine atmosphere of the city of New Orleans.  It was pivotal moment for me (especially with regards to the music).  I saw my first Mardi Gras Parade in New Orleans in 1962.  Not bad for an 8 year old kid, eh? 

My love of the city's music would implant itself in my own music career that seriously started in 1977 when I moved to Long Island.  Years later, when I decided to take a hiatus from the music biz, I got into the food service business and eventually became a chef and a restaurant owner.  In those days my nickname was The Chef From Hell; most probalby due to the influence of Chef Paul Prudhomme (a creative individual who brought cajun back into the mainstream in the 80's). 

Over the years as a Chef, I had a great time creating my own Cajun / Creole dishes at my various restaurants; The Bayou in Bellmore, NY, Big Daddy's in Massapequa, NY and Yazoo City in my hometown, Lindenhurst, NY.  Throughout these years my most special time to cook was during MARDI GRAS WEEK which was a week long celebration starting on the Tuesday before Fat Tuesday and then on Fat Tuesday itself. 

Here are some of my favorite Mardi Gras recipes along with some recipes from my wifey, Sweet Loretta.

Here's a quote from one of my favorite books in my culinary library: “In the dark age before electricity and refrigeration, it took master cooks – culinary magicians – to deliver miracles out of the kitchens of the South; now, with good directions and modern equipment, it is possible for anyone with enough interest to do almost as well…when the chemistry is right, a Southern meal can still be an aesthetic wonder, a sensory delight, even a mystical experience.” John Egerton SOUTHERN FOOD (Alfred A. Knopf 1987) 


Chef JP aka The Chef From Hell (1987)

Having lived in New Orleans, I got to experience this great food culture up close and while I went on to I live in many other places after New Orleans, I never forgot the food and the music I first encountered in that magical city.  Throughout the 70's and into the early 80's I was pursuing a career in music as the lead singer of the rock band, the Freelance Vandals

By the mid-1980's, after years of mishaps and insanity courtesy of pursuing in the music business, I decided to take a hiatus from the music biz.  I ended up taking a job washing dishes in a local restaurant while still pursuing my love of songwriting.  Surprisingly, things turned out alright.  Eventually, I realized that I could still pursue a career as a songwriter while I was working a day job that provided me with plenty of food so I was no longer going to be a starving artist!  As time went on, I was surprised to find that I had a natural talent for working with food in a professional kitchen and eventually I became a line cook and then a Chef who specialized in Cajun/Creole food. As time rolled on, I developed a reputation for making some mighty tasty highly seasoned food thereby acquiring the nickname, The Chef From Hell.  I would eventually return to the music business in 2007 when I started my own record label calle Mind Smoke Records.  Huzzah! 


Over the years that I spent in the restaurant business, I ended up writing and self-publishing three cookbooks; Voodoo in the Kitchen, Put Some South in Yer Mouth and The Cookbook From Hell.  As part of this blog's week-long Mardi Gras celebration, I thought it would be fun to share some of my Mardi Gras recipes with all of you rock & rollers out there who like swinging the good thing in the kitchen. 


~ Chef Jp's Crawfish Boil ~

Back in the day, when Sweet Loretta and I would be doing Mardi Gras week at one of our restaurants, I always did an authentic Louisiana Crawfish Boil.  The boil became so popular with our customers that we had to increase our order of live crawfish with each passing year.  I remember one year when my kitchen staff and I ended up cooking up 800 lbs of crawfish!  Ooh la la!  Here's a recipe for a smaller amount of boiled crawfish that you can do in a home kitchen.


  • 1/2 cup pickling spice
  • 1/4 cup crushed red pepper
  • 4 gallons of water
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup Lea & Perrins worcesterhire sauce
  • 2 cups Durkees Red Hot Sauce
  • 2 large yellow onions (peeled & quartered)
  • 2 lbs large Red A potatoes (quartered)
  • 4 large ears of corn (cut into thirds)
  • 8 lbs fresh crawfish (alive & kicking)

Cooking Procedure

Place 4 gallons of water in a large pot. Then, place a double layer of cheesecloth on a table and place pickling spice and crushed red pepper in the center of the cheesecloth.  Pull up all of the sides of the cheesecloth and tie it off using a thick rubberband or kitchen twine.  Make sure that this spice bag is tight and secure.  Add the spice bag, salt, cayenne, worcestershire sauce, red hot sauce and bring this to a boil.  Let this mixture in the pot boil for 15 minutes.  Add the onions, potatoes and the corn.  Boil for another 10 - 15 minutes; until the potatoes are tender (but not falling apart).  Remove the potatoes and corn from the pot and set them aside.  While waiting for the potatoes to reach tenderness, rinse your live crawfish with cold water.  This will not only clean out any lingering mud in those crawfish (aka mudbugs) but it will also liven them up before you put them in the pot.  As you rinse the crawfish, sort through them and discard any that are dead.  Place the live crawfish in the pot and stir them around a bit.  Let the pot return to a full boil.  Cook the crawfish 7 - 10 minutes, until the crawfish turn a deep red color.  Return the potatoes and corn to the pot.  Turn off the heat and follow what I consider to be the most important part of a crawfish boil.

The Soak

Let the crawfish, the onions, corn and potatoes soak in the pot liquid for 15 - 20 minutes so that all of the ingredients absorb the delicious boil liquid.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer all of the crawfish, onions, corn and potatoes to bowls and serve immediately....preferably with some ice cold beer!  Note: do not discard the pot liquid!  Instead, strain the stock into containers because it can be used again as stock for some of the greatest gumbo you will ever have in your life!



~ Mardi Gras Jalapeno Pie~


  • 7 Lg Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Whole Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Half & Half
  • 4 oz Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 4 oz Shredded Swiss or Gruyere Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Red Bell Pepper > chopped small (discard seeds & membrane)
  • 1/2 cup Jalapeno Peppers > Chopped in thin strips (discards seeds & membrane)

Cooking Procedure

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  • Grease a deep 9 inch glass pie plate with a non-stick cooking spray
  • Add the eggs to a bowl and beat the eggs well
  • Add the milk, half & half and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Whis this mix vigorously for 30 seconds
  • Evenly spread the shredded cheeses and chopped red bell & jalapeno peppers across the bottom of the greased pie plate
  • Then pour the egg milk mixture evenly over the peppers and cheese
  • Place the pie on a baking tray and then place the pie in the oven
  • Bake the pie for30 minutes or until the pie is solid and is firm and fluffy.  The top of the pie should be lightly browned and when a toothpick is inserted in the pie it comes out clean.


~ Crawfish Remoulade Blanc ~

Here's a recipe from Sweet Loretta

Part 1

  • 2 Tbs Spicy Brown Mustard 
  • 4 scallions, chopped fine 
  • 2 tsp parsley, chopped fine 
  • 1 TBS Horseradish 
  • Juice of half a large lemon 
  • 1 oz white wine 
  • Hearty pinch white pepper 
  • Hearty pinch cayenne 
  • 1 cup mayonnaise 
  • 1 lb Crawfish Tail Meat (rinsed well) 

Part 2

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Whisk well.  Cover and refrigerate.  

You can substitute chilled cooked shrimp if crawfish are unavailable.




~ Carnival Jambalaya  ~

The history of Jambalaya dates back to the days of when there was a French and Spanish culinary influence in New Orleans.  Many of the local cooks who worked in well-to-do households were required to prepare the popular Spanish rice dish, paella.  Over time, the local cooks and chefs added their own touches and Jambalaya was became a celebrated dish, unique to Louisiana. 


  • ½ lb unsalted butter 
  • 1 cup celery, chopped coarse 
  • 1 cup green bell pepper; seeded & chopped coarse 
  • 1 medium sized yellow onion; peeled & chopped coarse 
  • 2 large jalapeno peppers; stem removed & chopped coarse 
  • 1 lb Andouille sausage, chopped coarse 
  • ½ lb Tasso ham, chopped coarse 
  • 4 boneless chicken thighs, chopped coarse 
  • ¼ cup Madeira wine 
  • 1 cup chicken stock or broth 
  • ½ cup scallions; ends removed & chopped coarse 
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes 

6 cups Baked rice (see Recipe below) 

Seasoning Mix

  • 1 large bay leaf, crumbled  
  • 1 Tbs crushed red pepper  
  • 1 Tbs basil  
  • 1 tsp thyme  
  • 1 tsp Spanish paprika  
  • 1 tsp kosher salt  
  • 1 tsp cayenne red pepper  
  • ½ tsp ground white pepper  
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper 

Cooking Procedure 

  • In a large skillet, melt butter over high heat 
  • Add the “cajun trinity” (celery/onions/green bell pepper) 
  • Stir well and cook for 3 minutes or until onions begin to turn clear 
  • Lower heat to medium and add the jalapeno peppers, andouille, tasso, chicken thighs, and the seasoning mix 
  • Stir well and cook for 4 minutes more, shaking skillet from time to time 
  • Add the wine and shake the skillet vigorously 
  • Scrape the bottom of the skillet and cook for 3 minutes more 
  • Add the stock, Crawfish tails and scallions 
  • Cook for 4 minutes 
  • When the skillet mixture begins to bubble & simmer, add the crushed tomatoes 
  • Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes 
  • Scrape the bottom of the skillet from time to time to prevent sticking 
  • Add the baked rice and stir mixture well so that the rice is completely incorporated into the skillet mixture 
  • Note: see Baked Rice recipe below 
  • Turn of the heat and let your jambalaya simmer for 2 more minutes. 
  • Serve in bowls with hunks of french bread on the side. 

CHEF’S NOTE: If you are unable to find some of the ingredients at your local stores (such as andouille/crawfish tails/tasso ham), you can mail order them from online vendors. For andouille and tasso ham, I highly recommend Nodine's Smokehouse


~ Baked White Rice ~


  • 2 cups uncooked converted Rice 
  • 2 1/2 cups stock (chicken, beef, seafood or vegetable) 
  • 1/4 cup Celery, chopped small 
  • 1/4 cup Green Bell Pepper, chopped small 
  • 1/4 cup Yellow Onion, chopped small 
  • 1 tsp Bayou Seasoning (see recipe below) 
  • 1 1/2 TBS unsalted Butter, cubed 

Cooking Procedure 

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees 
  • In a loaf pan, combine all ingredients & mix well 
  • Seal loaf pan tightly with aluminum foil 
  • Bake rice at 350 until rice is tender; about 1 hour & 10 minutes 



~ New Orleans Muffaletta Sandwitch ~ 

Giardiniera: Italian Pickled Vegetable Mix


  • 1 large round bread loaf, 9 inches in diameter (often referred to as a "Bishop's Loaf" 
  • 1 cup Giardinera (an Italian pickled vegetable mix) 
  • 1/4 cup Black Olives, chopped coarse 
  • 1/4 cup Green Pimento stuffed Olives 
  • Olive Oil 
  • 4 oz Genoa Salami, sliced thin 
  • 4 oz Prosciutto Ham, sliced thin 
  • 4 oz Cappicola, sliced thin 
  • 4 oz Provolone thin, sliced thin 

Cooking Procedure 

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees 
  • Image 7 Giardinera pickled vegetable mix 
  • Drain the Giardinera of any liquid and place it in a food processor 
  • Add the black and green olives 
  • Drizzle in a little olive oil & pulse the ingredients until you achieve a chunky vegetable mix 
  • Set this mix aside 
  • Slice the round loaf in half horizontally 
  • Layer the bottom of the loaf with the processed vegetable mix 
  • Layer the sliced cheese and meats over the vegetable mix 
  • Place the top half of the bread on top of the meats 
  • Wrap the sandwich in aluminum foil 
  • Bake the sandwich in a 350 oven until the cheese is melted and the meats are warm; about 25 - 30 minutes 
  • Remove the sandwich from the oven and let it rest for 20 minutes 
  • Slice the sandwich into quarters to serve 



There are two schools of thought when it comes to the famous Muffaletta sandwich.  Some folks like it prepared cold much like a deli sandwich whereas others prefer the sandwich served hot.  My preference is to heat it up and enjoy all that melted cheese.  Yeah baby!





~ Sweet Loretta's King Kake ~

Here's a recipe that my wife, Sweet Loretta, makes every Mardi Gras.  Traditionally, a small plastic or porcelain baby is hidden in the king cake. Originally, the baby was placed in the cake to symbolize baby Jesus. Fava beans were also used to represent Jesus. Today, the baby you'll find in your piece of King Kake will most probably be plastic and symbolizes luck and prosperity to whoever finds it in their slice of cake!


Step 1

1 tbs cocoa powder 

2 tsp cinnamon 

1/3 cup sugar 

Combine in a small bowl and set aside to use as ribbon through the cake

Step 2

3 cups flour 

1 ½ tsp baking powder 

1 ½ tsp baking soda 

Combine and set aside.

Step 3

1 ½ sticks butter, softened 

1 ½ cups sugar 

2 tsp vanilla 

½ tsp salt 

16 ounces sour cream 

3 eggs 

1 baby 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees 

Cream butter and sugar.  Add flour mix, then the vanilla, salt, sour cream and eggs.  Beat well. 

In a prepared bunt pan layer half of the batter.  Sprinkle the spice mixture over that half as a ribbon.  Lay in the King Kake baby.  Cover with the remaining batter.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 60 minutes.  Let cool on a rack before turning out. 

Step 4 > When Your King Kake Has Cooled (about an hour) Prepare the Glaze: 

1 cup powdered sugar 

1 TBS melted butter 

Milk / or ½ and ½ to taste and texture

Mix these ingredients until the glaze thin enough to drip over the top of the King Kake

Pour on the glaze and decorate with Mardi Gras Colors.





"If music be the food of love, then play on" (Billy Shakespeare) 


Swinging The Good Thing Kitchen Playlist



Dig This Menu Please - Red Rodney Sextet

Day Old Bread & Canned Beans - The Treniers

Home Cookin' - Jr. Walker & The All Stars

Neck Bones & Hot Sauce - L. Anderson & The Tornadoes

Porkchops & Mustard Greens - Ernie Andrews

Git With The Grits - Wynonie Harris


Saturday Night Fish Fry - Louis Jordan & The Tympani 5

Fried Chicken & Macaroni - The Fascinators

Too Much Barbecue - Big Twist & The Mellow Fellows

Funky Hot Grits - Rufus Thomas

Corn Bread & Cabbage Greens - Joe Houston

Hot Sauce Boogie - Coco Robicheaux




Red Beans - Professor Longhair

Hot Barbecue - Biscuit Kings

Momma's in the Kitchen - Slim Gaillard

Gimme A Pigfoot & A Bottle of Beer

Green Onions - Booker T & The M.G.s

Solid Potato Salad - Nat King Cole




Rad Gumbo - Little Feat

Shrimp & Gumbo - Dave Bartholomew

Veal & Porkchop - Snooks Eaglin

Closer To The Bone - Louis Prima & Keely Smith

Oysters & Wine at 2 am


Hot Barbecue - Biscuit Kings

Jambalaya - Hank Williams

Ham & Eggs - Danny Barker

Funky Hot Grits - Rufus Thomas




Shrimp and Gumbo - Rebirth Brass Band


Happy Mardi Gras to all of the

Cajun Creole food lovers everywhere!


Chef JP