Ever since we moved to Ohio...we couldn't find a King Cake. I thought of baking one...briefly...but since my culinary talents lie in cooking, NOT in baking...we just remembered when we could get them. This year one of the local grocery stores had King Cakes...or at least the Parma, OH version of a King Cake. They're a little unclear on the concept, though...
The box side has this warning...and yes, there IS a baby hidden INSIDE a traditional King Cake. The person who gets the baby in their slice buys the next King Cake.
For this King Cake...the baby was stuck into the top of the King Cake...right in plain sight. I suppose you could bury the baby on the bottom of the cake...but this version was simply a braid of dough & quite dense...with just the barest little hint at adding cinnamon & apples to it. They're usually a ring of yeast dough with a nice amount of a cream cheese &/or fruit filling...and purple sugar that doesn't turn blue. Hey...maybe this is a Ghoulardi version for Parma...one of his catch phrases was "Turn blue, Knif!" You probably need to have grown up in the Cleveland area to really get that one...but I think it's kinda funny...and appropriate. Ghoulardi is a part of Cleveland history...a strange part, but a part nonetheless. And Fat Tuesday here involves Paczki...you can read all about them here.
So...since our King Cake turned out to be a dud...we'll celebrate with another tradition we've developed over the years...I'll make a big pot of Shrimp Étouffée. I use a recipe I found in a Paul Prudhomme cookbook years ago... and it's so yummy. This one is similar to what I make...although I don't use tomatoes.
Happy Mardi Gras, Y'all!!! It's the day of the year to eat decadent stuff...before Lent begins tomorrow...if you do that giving stuff up for Lent thing. We don't...but it's always a good excuse to party!
Laissez les bons temps rouler!