Mardi Gras dreams

RECIPE FOR FUN: Chefs Jacob Sessoms, left, of Table and John Fleer of Rhubarb are contributing food for the OpenDoors of Asheville’s Art Affair 2014 event. Photo by Katherine Brooks Photography

OpenDoors of Asheville hosts its “Art Affair 2014: One Night in New Orleans” art auction and gala Saturday, March 1. More than a dozen restaurants, bars and social lounges will lend a hand by donating food and beverages to the local charity’s annual fundraiser. The goal is to raise vital funds for programs and services to eliminate multigenerational child poverty in Asheville.

“All year long at OpenDoors we educate, elevate and celebrate children,” explains Jennifer Bock, Art Affair’s volunteer chairperson. “This annual event is a fabulously fun way to honor that mission and to introduce others to the ever expanding OpenDoors community network. Just as painters, potters and sculptors donate to the art auction, many generous restaurateurs, chefs and bartenders also express their support of local kids in need by contributing their own unique artistry.”

Asheville Brewing Co., for example, provided kegs of its new Louisiana-inspired Swampwater Lager, crafted by Assistant Brewer Brian Bacuzzi, a former Big Easy resident. Tanya and Charles Triber, owners of The Junction, offered a cocktail named “The Category 5.” That yummy-rummy libation was exclusively created for Art Affair by Junction’s bar manager, Courteney Foster.

Not to be outdone, chefs Jacob Sessoms of Table and John Fleer of Rhubarb — both of whom are donating food to support Art Affair 2014 — decided to share favorite recipes of theirs that have a distinctive “Night in New Orleans” flavor.

“My favorite easy New Orleans style dish is barbecue shrimp that isn’t actually barbecue,” Sessoms says. The recipe can be traced back to the famed Brennan's restaurant, though he says other great New Orleans eateries also lay claim to the dish.

Fleer, meanwhile, offers a fantastic recipe based on a New Orleans preparation called maque choux. “Served with trout,” he says, “it’s a delicious blend of Appalachia and NOLA.”

Feeling adventurous? Here are the recipes for those who’d like to try whipping up some of these treats at home.

Courteney Foster’s CATEGORY 5

1 ounce Cruzan light rum
1/2 ounce Sailor Jerry spiced rum
1/2 ounce Peachtree schnapps
1 ounce orange juice
1 ounce pomegranate juice
3/4 ounce pineapple juice

To make: Combine, shake and serve in a coupe cocktail glass.


Servings: 4

20 shrimp
1 baguette, sliced thick and toasted
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons hot sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup beer
2 tablespoons minced garlic and onion
Fresh thyme or oregano
Salt and pepper

Sauté shrimp in 2 teaspoons butter till almost done. Add herbs, onion and garlic. Add hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and beer. Reduce.

Slowly add remaining butter. Season and serve on top of toasted bread.


Servings: 8

Red Sauce:
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons Crystal hot sauce

1 cup fresh corn kernels
1 cup small diced red onion
1 cup small diced red bell peppers
1 cup blanched, shelled butter beans
2 cups cooked crawfish
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons red-eye reduction
1/2 cup heavy cream

Red-eye reduction:
1/2 quart coffee
1/4 cup malt vinegar
2 ounces chopped onions
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup heavy cream

To make: Reduce coffee, vinegar, onions, hot sauce, garlic, thyme and bay leaf until almost dry (about 4 tablespoons left). Stir in heavy cream and reduce slightly.

Combine red sauce ingredients. Sauté onion and pepper in a small amount of clarified butter. Add corn. Sauté until onions are soft. Add beans, a dash of the red sauce, salt and pepper. Add red-eye reduction and cream and reduce slightly. The sauce should be a pinkish brown color and should not be too spicy. Season with salt and pepper.


Servings: 4

8 trout fillets, skin on, 6 ounces each
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon Crystal hot sauce

Pecan crust:
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper
Clarified butter

Remove pin bones from trout fillets. Combine buttermilk and hot sauce. Combine pecans and all-purpose flour. Season with salt and pepper. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan. Dip the nonskin side of the trout fillet in the buttermilk mixture and then in the pecan-flour mixture. Gently place the fillet, pecan-floured side down, into the hot butter. Brown completely and then flip into a clean sauté pan. Cook through on top of the stove or finish in the oven.

— Visit for more information about Art Affair 2014 or to reserve tickets.


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