Celebrating Juneteenth

Most people are completely unaware of Juneteenth and its significance in American history.  But to people from the south, particularly Texas, and, most particularly people of color from the south or from Texas, it is a very important day in history.  In Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger, from the Union Army announced the Federal orders proclaiming that all slaves in Texas were free.  This was 2 1/2 years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”

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As you know, my mother was from Texas, so I grew up learning and knowing about the importance of Juneteenth.  In honor of the day, we had our friends Jonathon and Priscilla over and celebrated the day by watching a documentary about the importance of the day.  And of course you know I celebrated with plenty of food as well.  I made an array of simple Southern foods just for the occasion.

I made deviled eggs, a BLT pasta salad, browned butter lima beans and ham, little smokies wrapped in puff pastry and shrimp beignets.

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Priscilla made some delicious lemon cookies and added fresh strawberries and cream.

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We feasted first, then watched the movie.

When most people think of beignets, they think of them as sweet, donut-like fried pastries.  And they would be right in thinking this too, however, beignets have come a long way, and are not just sweet treats any more.  I made them with shrimp and peppers, thus making them savory instead of sweet.  They were delicately light and crispy. It was hard to stop at just one.

Shrimp and Pepper Beignets

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2 TBSP butter or bacon grease

1/3 cup green onions, sliced thin

1/2 red bell pepper, diced small

1/2 red onion, diced fine

1 jalapeno, diced fine

2 TBSP garlic

1/2 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined and cut into small pieces

2 TBSP Cajun or Creole seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

2 1/2 cups Bisquick

1/2 cup warm beer

canola or vegetable oil for frying

 

Instead of butter, I used some leftover bacon grease from when I made the bacon for my BLT pasta salad, to saute the shrimp, peppers, onions, garlic and seasinings.

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Let the shrimp mixture cool a bit while you make the dough.

Mix the Bisquick and cheese together thoroughly, then add the beer and knead it all together to make a soft dough.  I find it is better to use your hands.  Any kind of beer will do.  As with anything, changing the beers around will also enhance the flavor of the beignets slightly too.  This will be a very soft dough.  Do not over mix it or it will become tough, which will make them a lot less flaky and delicate too.

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On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a rectangle, about 1/4- 1/2 inch in thickness.  Then cut the dough into about 4 inch squares.  You will have enough dough for about 12 beignets.

Place about 1-2 TBSP of shrimp filling in the center of the squares, making sure not to over fill them.   Then bring the corners together, making a triangle.  Firmly press the edges together, then press with a fork to seal the seams.  I have to admit, I love stuff in my stuff, so I often over fill things, which makes them difficult to work with later.  Place in the refrigerator for at least one hour before frying them up.  Serve immediately after cooking them.  These are best served hot.

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When you are ready to cook the beignets, fill a deep skillet with enough cooking oil to cover the surface of the beignets.  Bring the oil to 350*F or 180* C.  (DO NOT USE OLIVE OIL.  The smoke point of olive oil is much lower than either vegetable, safflower or canola oil and will burn).  Carefully place the beingets in the hot oil, adding only a few at a time.  Cook them until they are golden brown and crispy.  Remove them from the oil and place them on a paper towel to extract some of the grease.  Repeat until they are all cooked.

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These beignets are so light and crispy.  They literally just melt in your mouth.  You won’t be able to stop at just one.  Go ahead.  I dare you.  🙂

Stay safe and stay well everyone. ‘Til next time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: ajeanneinthekitchen

I have worked in the restaurant and catering industry for 35 years. I attended 2 culinary schools in Southern California, and have a degree in culinary arts from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, as well as a few other degrees in other areas. I love to cook and I love to feed people.

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