Pate a choux pastry is used to make all sorts of dessert deliciousness. Churros, éclairs, profiteroles, and even towering croquembouches are made from choux pastry. Beignets can also be made from choux but isn’t often used in the South; most chefs make the chewier, rolled yeast variety of beignets like they serve at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. I prefer a fluffy choux beignet which have been made famousby my buddy Panini Pete. If you make it to his place in Fairhope or Mobile, Alabama, you'll see an early morning line forming for Pete's beignets. They taste more like a hot doughnut and are delicious fried dough heaven. Sprinkled with Confectioners’ sugar while they are hot. Serve with a squeeze of lemon. These won’t hold well once your squeeze the lemon over them but then again, they’ll go so fast you won’t have to worry about that.


Prep Time: 12 minutes   Cook Time: 7-8 minutes per batch


1 ½ cups water

6 ounces unsalted butter

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

6 eggs, room temperature

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Canola oil for frying

Food thermometer

Confectioners’ sugar and lemon wedges for garnish


Put canola oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat and bring it to 350 degrees F.

Mix the salt into the flour.  

Put the water and butter in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the flour all at one time to combine and form dough which will pull away from the side of the pan. Switch to a wooden spoon. Add the eggs, two at a time, blending well with the wooden spoon between each addition. Beat the dough with the wooden spoon until it goes from ‘slippery’ and glossy to matte.  Add the vanilla and stir to incorporate.

Scoop the dough with a small ice cream scoop and place in the hot oil. Take care not to over crowd the pot or the temperature of the oil will drop and your beignets will soak up oil. Fry for 7-8 minutes, turning the beignets around frequently in the oil. Drain on paper toweling.

Serve warm with a dusting of Confectioners’ sugar and lemon, lime, or orange wedges.

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Whether you're hosting a Mardi Gras party or just want a fun cocktail everyone will like, a Hurricane is a can't miss fruity rum favorite. Made popular at Pat O"Brien's tavern in New Orleans back during WW2 when whiskey and other liquors were hard to come by. Today, the Hurricane is a mainstay on cocktail menus around Bourbon Street but tourists line up to get the original from Pat O'Brien's in the signature hurricane glass.

big batch Hurricane cocktail recipe

Martie's Party Hurricanes 


1  1/2 ounces light rum         

1  1/2 ounces dark rum

1 ounce fresh squeezed orange juice

1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice 

1/4 cup passion fruit juice (find it in the canned juice or International foods aisles)

1 sugar cube (about a teaspoon of granulated sugar)

1 teaspoon Grenadine

Maraschino cherries plus juice and orange slices for garnish



In a cocktail shaker, mix the rum, juices and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add Grenadine, and stir to combine, then add ice and shake. Add ice to a Hurricane style glass, strain into the glass. Add a dash of the cherry juice. Garnish with orange slices and cherries.

Serves 1.



25.4 ounces (1-750 ml bottle)  light rum

25.4 ounces (1-750 ml bottle) dark rum

2 cups freshly squeezed lime juice

2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice

4 cups passion fruit juice

16 sugar cubes or about 1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup Grenadine

Maraschino cherries plus juice and orange slices for garnish



Mix all ingredients except the ice together in a large container or dispenser. Chill. Serve over ice. Makes 15-20 cocktails depending on portion size.


Break out the beads, it’s Mardi Gras! You may not have the parades, floats, Krewes, and crowds of Mobile or New Orleans, but you can still have the best of Mardi Gras right in your home---the music, the mood, the food, and all the fun! Hosting a Mardi Gras party is painless because all the components are easy to find or make. We planned our party in just two days. You can, too, even if you’ve never been to “Nawleans.”

If you are planning a trip to the Big Easy, read my post about where to go, where to eat, and where to stay in New Orleans. Read more...

how to host a Mardi Gras party at home


Gumbo and boiled shrimp can easily be made in large quantities so this is one of the best party themes for a big crowd. Your regular grocery like Publix, Whole Foods, even Winn-Dixie will have most of what you need. Stop by the seafood counter for shrimp. They can steam it for you or you can do it at home using my shrimp boil recipe. You'll also find cocktail sauce there but I always make my own. If you stop as you first enter the store and ask them to steam the shrimp for you, you can pick it up just before you check out. Always ask for fresh Gulf shrimp; it makes a big difference!

A Mardi Gras menu of gumbo, boiled shrimp, Muffuletta sandwiches, Sazerac cocktails, and King Cake.

A Mardi Gras menu of gumbo, boiled shrimp, Muffuletta sandwiches, Sazerac cocktails, and King Cake.

TIP: I always take an ice cooler with me to the store so I can keep the shrimp cold on the way home. Or if it has been steamed, the cooler will help keep it hot, too. Pack with newspaper or brown paper to keep heat in.

If you don't want to cook, you can find surprisingly good frozen gumbo chock full of sausage and shrimp along with some really spicy crawfish (just for fun) in the frozen seafood section of the store. My own Gumbo recipe is easy to make and everyone loves it. I always make a big (giant) batch a day before and freeze some for later. On party day, make sure to heat the gumbo to at least 140 F -It takes longer than you  might think to heat a big pot of gumbo thoroughly so make sure to start early. See my video tips on Food Safety.

Serve the gumbo with rice. I always follow the standard recipe: 1 cup of rice to 2 cups water. And salt the water first and add a little butter. You can always use boil-in-bag rice if you have to; find it in the rice aisle. Who knew? I have a large rice cooker I use specifically for this.

You might have to educate the deli counter on the art of the Muffuletta sandwich: a round loaf of Italian bread sliced in half, scooped out, then slathered with a thick layer of olive salad and stuffed until overflowing with several different meats and cheeses. My favorite Muffuletta can be found in New Orleans at Central Grocery. The bread is what makes the real difference but you won't find that anywhere outside of New Orleans. Any round loaf can substitute in a pinch.

I always scout the store in advance to make sure I can find everything I need well before party week. That way I'm not frantically trying to source something at the last minute.
You can make your own Gumbo in advance and freeze it in zip top bags. That's what I do. Early in Mardi Gras season, I make a huge batch then chill and freeze. I take out only as much as I need to serve, that way I have gumbo when I want it!

You can make your own Gumbo in advance and freeze it in zip top bags. That's what I do. Early in Mardi Gras season, I make a huge batch then chill and freeze. I take out only as much as I need to serve, that way I have gumbo when I want it!


The decorations were even easier than the food. Balloons, string lights, feathered masks, and beads are inexpensive and readily available in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green, and gold. If you want to spend a little more, you might get a Bourbon Street sign and street lights at a rental store to complete the feel of the French Quarter. If you have time to order online, Oriental Trading Company has a great selection of Mardi Gras essentials.

I get or order my Mardi Gras beads from Toomey's in Mobile, Alabama. They have a great selection of hand-strung beads, cheap beads, collector's beads, and theme beads to select from.


Jazz, blues, and the unique sounds of Zydeco are a big part of any Mardi Gras celebration. Make a playlist of traditional favorites and don’t forget native sons Harry Connick, Jr., Aaron Neville, Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Wynton Marsalis.

You’re all set to join the world’s largest party from the comfort of your own home. No middle seat or layover in Atlanta required!