I was introduced to the New Orleans Saints by marrying into the Flood family. My mother-in-law, Beverly Flood, was a huge fan of the team from the beginning of their organization in 1967. I have 40-year-old letters in which she called them “my boys” and was a faithful supporter throughout her life. She had seven boys of her own and infused all of them with the love of Saints.
The day after my wedding, a cousin gifted us with tickets to the Superdome, and I became initiated in Saints fever and have never looked back. I was even able to teach several team members as a Pilates and personal trainer. It turned out to be a great highlight in my career. The focus, dedication and discipline that the players exhibited was impressive and gratifying. I even had one Saint tell me that my Pilates helped his ankle strength more then the league’s conditioning did.
So, with my background steeped in Saints and my passion steeped in cooking, I came up with a fabulous tailgate tradition. Grilling not required! A couple of dips to keep the group close and then a hot stew to wrap cold hands around and finally, rich, tasty sandwich wedges which can be easily picked up and carried to the game. Don’t forget to have favorite cookies or brownies available to round out the meal. I’ve included a recipe for Mississippi Mud Squares, which are always popular with Jacksonians.
This gorgeous, extremely flavorful and filling sandwich is a New Orleans staple. Traditionally, it is assembled on large round loaves of Italian bread—about 7 inches in diameter and 2 inches high.
The olive salad is the key ingredient, and making this sandwich ahead of time is ideal so that the oil and flavor can soak into the bread—making it perfect for a picnic. For ease at your tailgate party, cut into wedges and wrap each wedge individually for easy pick up.
2/3 cup green olives, coarsely chopped
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 fillet of anchovy (rinse first), well minced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 tablespoon black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
Mix all ingredients well, cover and marinate 12 hours. This makes enough olive salad for two loaves of bread.
To make muffalettas, slice bread in half horizontally. Spread olive salad on both halves of bread and layer with ham, Genoa salami and provolone cheese slices. Cut into wedges.
Buffalo Wing Dip
Always popular, this dip combines the spiciness of chicken with celery and the dressing all in one bite.
16 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces Frank’s Red Hot sauce
3/4 cup chopped celery
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
Tortilla chips for dipping
Combine cream cheese, hot sauce and celery. Heat in microwave until cream cheese is melted. Stir; add chicken and cheddar cheese. Mix together. Put into a baking dish. Top with more shredded cheddar cheese. Sprinkle a little paprika over it. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Serve with tortilla chips.
Mississippi Mud Squares
Named after the rich, thick mud along the Mississippi River, these delicacies are always popular.
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups chopped pecans
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; add cocoa, mixing well. Remove from heat and let cool.
Combine sugar, flour, pecans and salt in a large mixing bowl; stir well. Add eggs and vanilla, stir until blended. Stir in melted chocolate mixture. Spoon batter into a lightly greased and floured 13 x 9 x 2 inch
Bake for 30 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Immediately sprinkle marshmallows over top of hot brownies. Spread cocoa frosting over marshmallows. Cool and cut into squares.
Yield: 15 servings.
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa
1 (16 ounce) package confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine butter, milk and cocoa in a small saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until butter melts and cocoa is well incorporated. Remove from heat and transfer to a medium mixing bowl.
Add sugar and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth.
Yield: 2 cups.
Louisiana Shrimp Pâté with Horseradish Sauce
Serving this beautiful and delicious appetizer adds just the right touch of lavishness to a tailgating party and is deceptively easy to make.
2 pounds boiled shrimp
1/4 cup chopped Vidalia onion
4 tablespoons softened butter
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
Salt, to taste
1 recipe horseradish sauce
Parsley and lemon slices for garnish
1 cup bottled chili sauce
2 tablespoons grated horseradish
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Finely chop shrimp in a food processor. Add butter, mayonnaise, lemon juice and Tabasco. Puree. Add onion and puree. (Onion is added lastly to the mixture so that it does not overwhelm the flavors or get “mushy.”)
Using a pastry brush, coat a small ring mold with mayonnaise. Spoon in the shrimp mixture and chill for at least 2 hours. Unmold onto a large plate. Mix together the horseradish sauce ingredients and pour into the middle of the mold.
Serve with small, plain crackers.
Serves 12 to 15 as an appetizer.