In the early 1950s New Orleans was the major port of entry for bananas shipped from Central and South America. Owen Brennan, owner of Brennan's Restaurant, challenged his chef Paul Blange, to include bananas in a new dessert as his way of promoting the imported fruit.
And so was born the spectacle of Bananas Foster, a decadent dessert named for Owen's friend, Richard Foster, a local civic and business leader. The bananas are sautéed in butter, sugar and cinnamon and then bathed in rum, which is set aflame in a fiery burst. The fire burns off the alcohol in the rum, leaving just a smoky taste and rum flavour. This delicious concoction, when bought in a New Orleans restaurant, is usually created table side to impress and then served over vanilla ice cream.
Today, Bananas Foster is served at not just Brennan's but also other fine New Orleans restaurants. Each year, Brennan's flames 35,000 pounds of bananas for the famous dessert, which is also so simple to make at home.
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup banana liqueur
1/4 cup dark rum
4 scoops vanilla ice cream
4 bananas, cut in half, lengthwise, then halved
Combine the butter, sugar and cinnamon in a flambé pan or a skillet. Place the pan over a low heat and cook, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the banana liqueur, then place the bananas in the pan. When the banana sections soften and begin to brown, carefully add the rum. Then tip the pan slightly and ignite the rum. When the flames subside, lift the bananas out of the pan and place four pieces over each portion of ice cream. Generously spoon warm sauce over the top of the ice cream and voila! Serve immediately.
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Louisiana has plenty of places where you can get your spook on – here are some ideas for haunted trips in 2021!
In the capital city, Baton Rouge, pay a visit to Louisiana's Old State Capitol, where Avoyelles Parish Legislator Pierre Couvillon suffered a heart attack after a spirited speech about corrupt politicians. Couvillon’s large footprints have been found on the Senate floor, and a rumpled bed in the exhibit hall could have been his resting spot for the night. While making rounds, a security guard felt a tap on his shoulder and heard sounds of something moving around in the dark. Others have seen the motion detectors going off (meaning someone was in the museum) when no one was there, and nothing was caught on security tapes.
Built in 1915, the Gothic Hanging Jail in DeRidder is believed to be haunted by the two men hanged for the slaying of their taxi cab driver – hence the nickname “The Hanging Jail.” The story goes - Joe Genna and Molton Brasseaux hired taxi driver Joe Brevelle, killed him, and dumped his body in the old Pickering Mill pond. The body was found, and the men were convicted and hanged from the third-floor gallows. The jail features a spiral staircase circling around a noose that hangs ominously, and underground tunnel that allowed prisoners to get to the courthouse next door.
The Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville is said to be one of the most haunted houses in the country. It all began when Chloe, a slave punished for eavesdropping on the family, found vengeance by baking a poisoned birthday cake. Within hours, three of the main family members were dead. Chloe’s ghost is still reported to haunt the premises. Subsequent owners suffered tragic deaths and murders in the years that followed. The ghosts of these former residents, as well as others passing through, have been documented in photos, featured in TV shows and witnessed by residents and tourists alike. Those brave enough can stay overnight.
New Orleans is widely regarded as America’s most haunted city with numerous reported paranormal sightings and encounters. Perhaps some of these will have you itching to make a ghoulish trip of your own in 2021.
While there has been many a story or sighting of the spiritual world, few have captured peoples' imagination like Marie Laveau. Famous for being a Voodoo Priestess, Marie Laveau's story is shrouded in mystery. Madame Laveau wielded tremendous power in her community and rumours of her magical abilities were so persistent that visitors still visit her grave to leave tokens in exchange for small requests. Visitors can find the tomb of Marie Laveau at St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. Laveau is one of the many famous residents buried in—and said to haunt—New Orleans’ oldest cemetery. Built in 1789 and situated close behind the French Quarter, the cemetery spans only a block but supposedly houses 100,000 of the city’s dead, many of whom are thought to still walk the cemetery’s grounds.
New Orleans is probably home to more haunted Hotels than any other city in America. The Dauphine Orleans Hotel, for example, has many tales of twisted fates. One of these is the Lost Bride ghost, believed to be the spirit of a young woman, Millie, who was working in May's Place as a courtesan. She met a young Confederate soldier and they fell in love and were set to be married. She became obsessed with the wedding and perfecting her wedding gown. The morning of the wedding ceremony, her groom was shot in a gambling dispute. Millie was told of the news on the way to alter and never recovered from the grief. According to accounts, Millie took to wearing the wedding gown around May's Place and even after her death many years later, Millie still roams the Dauphine hopelessly waiting for her fiancé.
The Hotel Monteleone holds four generations worth of history and there is one tale this family knows well; stories of ghosts wandering the Hotel Monteleone’s halls. Over the years, Monteleone guests have reported the ghostly visions of former employees still tending to their duties to children playing in the halls. Guests report the 14th floor of the Hotel offers a chance to spot the ghost of the mischievous young boy, rumoured to be Maurice. His parents, Josephine and Jacques Begere, were at the famous French Opera House on Bourbon Street, when a carriage accident left the father dead. Maurice’s mother died of a broken heart shortly after. It’s said Maurice’s ghost still roams the halls searching for his deceased parents.
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Fully Loaded Cajun Bloody Mary
- 4 cups chilled tomato juice
- 1 cup chilled vodka
- 1/4 cup prepared horseradish, such as Zatarain’s®, drained
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon French's® Classic Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 to 2 teaspoons Zatarain's® Cajun Hot Sauce
- 1 teaspoon Zatarain's® New Orleans Style Creole Seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
- 6 pickled okra
- 6 cocktail olives
- 6 cooked jumbo shrimp
- 6 crisply cooked bacon
- 6 celery stalks, with leaves attached
- 6 lemon wedges
- For the Bloody Mary, stir all ingredients in large pitcher until well blended. Pour into 6 ice-filled beverage glasses.
- For the Garnish, thread 1 pickled okra, shrimp and olive onto each of 6 wooden skewers. Lay 1 skewer over each glass along with 1 slice of cooked bacon, celery stalk and lemon wedge. Serve & enjoy!
If you'd also like to try some Louisiana recipes with you Cajun Bloody Mary we have a classic Gumbo Recipe or how about creating a traditional King Cake for your next party or family gathering to see who will find the lucky baby and have good fortune for the year.
Tennessee Moonshine Mule
1 ½ oz Ole Smoky Moonshine (available in the UK now - find it on a Google search!)
3 oz of Ginger Beer
0.25 oz of Angostura Bitters
0.25 oz Fresh Lime Juice
Garnish with Fresh Lime Wedges
Mix well, Garnish and Shine responsibly
Tuck in to this traditional King Cake recipe perfected by master chef John Besh. King Cake is a long standing tradition in New Orleans around Mardi Gras and the Carnival season. Since the 1800s, New Orleanians have celebrated the beginning of the Carnival Season with a "King's Cake" on the Twelfth Night. A small plastic baby is baked inside the cake and the person who discovers it is said to have good fortune for the year. The recipient then continues the festivities by having another party and providing another King Cake....and so it continues!
Ingredients for the cake
- 1 cup lukewarm milk, about 110°F
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons dry yeast
- 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup melted butter
- 5 egg yolks, beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon zest
- 3 teaspoons cinnamon
- Several gratings of fresh nutmeg
Ingredients for the icing
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup condensed milk
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- Purple, green, and gold decorative sugars
- 1 fève (fava bean) or plastic baby to hide in the cake after baking
- For the cake, pour the warm milk into a large bowl. Whisk in the granulated sugar, yeast, and a heaping tablespoon of the flour, mixing until both the sugar and the yeast have dissolved.
- Once bubbles have developed on the surface of the milk and it begins to foam, whisk in the butter, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add the remaining flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg and fold in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a large rubber spatula.
- After the dough comes together, pulling away from the sides of the bowl, shape it into a large ball. Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is smooth and elastic, about 15 minutes.
- Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to let it proof, or rise, for 1 1/2 hours or until the dough has doubled in volume.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough between your palms into a long strip, making 3 ropes of equal length. Braid or plait the 3 ropes around one another and then form the braided loaf into a circle, pinching ends together to seal. Gently lay the dough on a non stick baking sheet and let it rise until it doubles in size, about 30 minutes.
- Once it's doubled in size, place the baking tray in the oven and bake until the braid is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven, place on a wire rack, and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
- For the icing, while the cake is cooling, whisk together the icing sugar, condensed milk, and lemon juice in a bowl until the icing is smooth and very spreadable. If the icing is too thick, add a bit more condensed milk; if it's a touch too loose, add a little more icing sugar.
- Once the cake has cooled, spread the icing over the top of the cake and sprinkle with purple, green, and gold decorative sugars while the icing is still wet. Tuck the fève or plastic baby into the underside of the cake and, using a spatula, slide the cake onto a platter.
*note: image pictured is not exact to this recipe