Strawberry Napoleon

November 19, 2010

As I sit in my kitchen devouring my latest creation down to the very last lick of whipped cream from the bowl it occurs to me that if my husband would have seen me tonight for the first time we would probably not be married today. Bowl licking isn’t the most attractive quality in a girl (or boy for that matter). But honestly, is there anything better than freshly whipped cream? 

As I have mentioned before, we are in the middle of moving. In fact, we leave very early Sunday morning so our refrigerator and pantry are becoming quite sparse. I had three ingredients I had to use up before we go: heavy whipping cream, pastry dough, and strawberries. Luckily, on the box of the (Pepperidge Farm) pastry dough there was a recipe for Strawberry Napoleon.

I didn’t have everything I needed for the recipe so I improvised. It called for vanilla pudding. I used white chocolate because that’s what I had. I also used all my milk earlier today, so I ended up using evaporated milk. I skipped the icing because, like I said, I had no milk. But, it was still turned out very well!

I have a real problem when it comes to sweets. I have no self control. I try to keep it under wraps most of the time, but biting into this was like biting into a chocolate covered strawberry cream puff. All bets were off. Not only did I finish the whole thing, but, like I said earlier, I licked all the bowls clean.

What would I change? I would make individual desserts instead of 2 long desserts (meant to be cut and served, not eaten by one person, oops). That’s really all I would change though. This thing was delicious!

Here is Pepperidge Farm’s recipe:

1 sheet of pastry puff
1 pkg of vanilla instant pudding
1 cup of milk
1 cup of heavy cream, whipped
1/2 c. confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp. milk
1 1/2 c. strawberries (sliced)
1 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, melted


Thaw pastry dough. Unfold sheet and cut into 3 strips along fold marks. Place on baking sheets. Bake 15 minutes or until golden. Remove from baking sheets and cool on wire racks.

Prepare pudding mix according to package directions with 1 cup milk in large bowl. Fold in Whipped Cream. Cover and refrigerate. Stir confectionsr’s sugar and 2 tsp. milk in small bowl.

Split each pastry into 2 layers, forming a total of 6 layers. Spread confectioners’ sugar mixture on 2 top layers.

Spread 3/4 cup pudding mixture on 1 pastry layer. Top with about 1/3 cup strawberries. Repeat layers. Top with iced pastry layer. Repeat to make a second dessert. Drizzle with melted chocolate. Serve immediately.


New Food

November 12, 2010

RutabagaIf you are anything like me, you are thinking to yourself, “what the heck is that? A radish?” That, my friends, is a Rutabaga. A word I was familiar with, but a food I had never tasted or (honestly) been able to identify until yesterday.

Last night, I went out of my comfort zone and tried something new. I found a recipe in this month’s Martha Stewart’s Living for a rutabaga puree and decided to give it a try.

When I took the rutabaga out to start making the meal, I looked at it as though it were something left behind on the site of an alien invasion. I had no idea what to do with it. The directions were simple, “peel and coarsely chop.” Okay, but how? I did the only thing I could think of… I You-Tubed it. That is when I found this:

To my amazement, it is extremely easy to peel a rutabaga!

I had one naked rutabaga sitting in front of me and no clue how to chop it. Is there a pit? I know, now, that I should have been smarter than that. It is a root vegetable. Like a potato, or a carrot… there is no pit. I took a breath and pushed my knife right down the center and chopped it in half. The color was a pleasant creamy pale yellow. Not at all what I expected. I sliced and chopped the rutabaga until there was no more left to chop. A piece of it fell to the floor and my little dog came running over. She took a sniff of it and ate it and I thought, “well, Ellie likes it… how bad can it be?” The dog ate it raw!

The recipe called for shallots. I was out. Again… So I substituted for garlic and onion. After all, isn’t that really all a shallot is? You sauté the “shallots” and rutabaga in butter (I use I Can’t Believe it’s not Butter) until soft, add chicken stock, fresh thyme, salt and pepper, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. When it is all soft a mushy, you puree it with a couple tablespoons of mascarpone cheese.

The appearance was quite pleasant. I poured it into a serving dish and garnished it with a little more fresh thyme. It looked very pretty. It looked (and to be honest, tasted) like mashed sweet potato.

Rutabaga is kind of a mixture of sweet potato, carrots, and cabbage, in taste. It is a pretty strong flavor, so the recipe added the mascarpone in there to tone it down. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. Approval was won by all, husband, dog, and even the baby liked it! We finished the entire dish.

A Clean Kitchen

November 2, 2010

If there is one thing I hate about cooking, it is the mess left behind. In fact, most of the time when I am “not in the mood to cook” it is because I don’t want to have to deal with the mess. I know some people have a plan in place in which one person (out of the couple) will cook, and the other will clean up. This is a great idea in theory. In my case, not so much. While my husband is an excellent cook and I thoroughly enjoy eating his food, he is the messiest cook I have ever seen. (But I still love you! :) )

I am convinced that people who always have spotless kitchens don’t use them. We are currently in the process of trying to sell our home, so it is extra important to make sure everything stays in tip top shape. When you eat three meals a day in a kitchen, that is a lot of work. It is a never ending cycle of dirty dishes and piles of pots and pans. I would like to raise a challenge to find someone who actually uses his/her kitchen and yet it remains spotless. If you are out there, please contact me so I can take lessons from you. I know, I know… “clean as you cook.” I say, easier said than done. I am trying to learn to be quicker in the kitchen. If I am cleaning everything after I use it, that will double my cooking time. Then, you are always going to have at least 2 pans at the end that need to be cleaned. Are you supposed to clean them before you eat? I don’t know about you, but by the time my food is done cooking, all I want to do is sit down and eat it. Once I’ve eaten it, I just want to sit down and relax, not clean the kitchen that I’ve been cleaning up all day long after every other meal. I’m beginning to think that the architects of ‘ole were smart to have the kitchen a completely separate room from the rest of the house. No one needs to see that mess. When did the kitchen become a gathering spot? Why is an “open floor plan” so desirable? If I were to make a prediction (which is what I am doing right now), I would say that the “open floor plan” days will soon be over and that will be one aspect of a home that will date it, just like pea green appliances and flowered wall paper.

Enough complaining, it’s time to think about what’s for dinner. I’m thinking it is a lamb kind of night…

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