The countdown to Fat Tuesday is on and it seems fitting to have a little piece of the festival wherever you are. If yu are in the South, you are probably well aware of the role King Cakes play. If that sounds a little foreign to you, read this blog post by Celeste Laurent (Twitter, blog). King Cakes go around and bring lots of smiles to offices and parties.
But another way to bring a touch of mardi gras flavor to your home is to eat another food that seems distinctly connected to those Cajun roots in South Louisiana. Beignets! While I am a bit further north than most Cajuns are willing to live, we have some great places in Memphis that fix the sugary treat. (Try Beignet Cafe downtown on G E Patterson a block east of Main Street or if you want a combination of breakfast foods, try the Arcade Restaurant at Main & Patterson.)
You can always buy a box of beignet mix at Cafe du Monde but if you are more adventurous, you could start from scratch. And if you want a great video step by step, there is none better than this one by Chef Kyler. Kyler is my friend Scott Vernon‘s son and he seems to always be in the kitchen whipping something up that makes my mouth water. Well, Kyler recently won a video contest on making beignets and using cottonseed oil! And yes, he was competing against professional chefs!
Love that he has a decorative cotton bale in the background and shows what the seed looks like and explains why cottonseed oil is preferred (neutral taste). He even in the tells you how to get cottonseed oil either online or at Bass Pro! (You can find out more from my cotton 101 post on cottonseed.)
Here’s part of the announcement:
NCPA’s “Best Beignet” video contest challenged entrants to demonstrate in three minutes or less their tips for creating their personal best beignet, fried in cottonseed oil. The grand prize: $5,000.
Entrants ranged from professional New Orleans-based chefs and food bloggers to mother-daughter and -son duos. However, the entry that took the cake – or beignet, rather – was submitted by Dr. Scott Vernon of Nipomo, Calif. His winning video featured 11-year-old son Kyler, a Food Network star in the making, with his brother, Conner, acting as cameraman. In the video, “Chef Kyler” skillfully demonstrates the art of making homemade beignets, provides an overview of the benefits of cooking with cottonseed oil, and even gives a “shout out” to America’s cotton growers.
Other contest highlights included a creative demonstration from Café du Monde’s experts themselves; a unique Double Banana’s Foster Beignet recipe, using the “drop method,” from Chef Tory McPhail of New Orleans’ Commander’s Palace; and an exceptional entry by food blogger Doniree Walker, featuring her mouth-watering Chocolate Bourbon Orange dipping sauce. To view all of the “Best Beignet” video entries, visit www.YouTube.com/cottonseedoiltour.
“Regardless of the dough recipe, technique or topping, each entrant thoughtfully demonstrated that the key to creating a bead-worthy beignet is choosing the right cooking oil: neutral, trans free cottonseed oil, which the experts at Café du Monde have used for generations,” says Ben Morgan, executive vice president, National Cottonseed Products Association.