Party Ideas

National Napoleon Food Day is September 7th

A classic napoleon served with caramel sauce

A classic napoleon served with caramel sauce

Napoleons are one of those desserts few at home would make since it seems to be a lot of work. But those layers of flaky crust with rich buttery whipped cream which assault your taste buds can get anyone interested in learning how to make these incredible desserts.

But before we get there, here is an excerpt from wikipedia.com on the incredible napoleon dessert in case you were wondering:

The Mille-feuille (French ‘thousand sheets’), Napoleon (U.S.), vanilla slice, cream slice or custard slice (Commonwealth countries) is a pastry made of several layers of puff pastry alternating with a sweet filling, typically pastry cream, but sometimes whipped cream, or jam. It is usually glazed with icing or fondant in alternating white and brown (chocolate) strips, and combed. The name is also written as “millefeuille” and “mille feuille”.

There are also savory mille-feuilles with cheese and spinach or other fillings.

Variant names and forms

In Italy, where the pastry is thought to have originated in Naples, it is called mille foglie and contains similar fillings. A savory Italian version consists of puff pastry filled with spinach, cheese or pesto, among other things.

In the Commonwealth (Quebec excepted), mille-feuille is known as ‘vanilla slice’ or ‘cream slice’, and usually has only a top and bottom pastry layer. The filling is often flavored with chocolate. In Australia, popular icings include vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, raspberry, and passion fruit. In New Zealand, it is usually called a ‘custard square.’

A variation popular in England is the Bavarian Slice which has a layer of raspberry or strawberry jam and rippled icing, although there is no evidence that this is a traditional Bavarian dish.

In Australia, there are varying forms of this pastry. Balfours, claiming to be Australia’s largest bakery[1], produce their own form of Napoleon Cake which is multi layered and contains icing, pastry, cream, jam and sponge cake. This differs from the more widely known vanilla slice which is composed of icing, pastry and custard.

In Sweden as well as in Finland the Napoleonbakelse (Napoleon pastry) is a mille-feuille filled with whipped cream, custard, and jam. The top of the pastry is glazed with icing and currant jelly.

The Netherlands and Belgium eat the tompoes or tompouce. Several variations exist in Belgium, but in the Netherlands, it is iconic and the market allows preciously little variation in form, size, ingredients and colour. See tompouce.

History

The origin of the mille-feuille is unknown. The Hungarian city of Szeged may have something to do with its origins. Carême (writing at the end of the 18th century) considered it of ‘ancient origin’. It was earlier called “gâteau de mille-feuilles” ‘cake of a thousand leaves’.

Origin of the name ‘Napoleon’

The name appears to come from napolitain, the French adjective for the Italian city of Naples, but altered by association with the name of Emperor Napoleon I of France. There is no evidence to connect the pastry to the emperor himself.

In France, a Napoléon is a kind of mille-feuille filled with almond paste.

Competitions

An annual competition for the best vanilla slice baker is the Great Australian Vanilla Slice Triumph held in Ouyen in western Victoria (Australia). Judging criteria include “when tasted, should reveal a custard with a creamy smooth texture and a balance of vanilla taste with a crisp, crunchy pastry topped with a smooth and shiny glaze/fondant”. [2]

Popular culture

  • The time-travel card game Early American Chrononauts includes a tongue-in-cheek card called Napoleon’s Napoleon which players can symbolically acquire from the year 1815.
  • On the cd label for the 1998 Sonic Youth album A Thousand Leaves the phrase “mille feuille” is crossed out and “a thousand leaves” is written under it.
  • In the Woody Allen film Love and Death, Napoleon berated his chefs for a pastry attempt at a Napoleon (they’d included raisins, among other things). Napoleon declared himself in competition with Wellington, who was “inventing” Beef Wellington.
  • In the video game Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, the cake is the most expensive one when found in the hidden bakery of the City of Haze, at $1000 per single payment. It will reappear on sale once the player consumes it, but is also found again in another hidden bakery later on in 13th Street.

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As I searched for appropriate photos (the one above came from bonappettite.com) I was shocked by the photos that did come up as samples of the real thing – I kid you not, most of these photos of desserts were not very appealing…but I assure you there are a variety of ways to make napoleon’s but I found a good recipe to create the perfect dessert for your next shingdig.

Now that you have learned a thing or two about Napoleon Pastries here’s your most basic recipe for making your very own flaky pasties for your eating pleasures…

Napoleon Dessert Recipe:
Courtesy of Baking.About.com

Prep Time: 1 hours, 00 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 17-ounce package frozen pastry
  • chocolate or vanilla pastry cream*
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 ounce semisweet chocolate, melted

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lighly flour bread board and rolling pin. Roll dough to 13 x 17 inch triangle, 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to cookie sheet. Prick dough with fork. Cover with another cookie sheet. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove top sheet and continue to bake for 5 more minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack.

Cut pastry into thirds, lengthwise. Mix powdered sugar and water. Stir until smooth. Turn over 1 pastry strip on rack. Pour sugar glaze over strip. Smooth with spatula. Quickly pour stripes of chocolate over glaze. Drag knife over top to make decorative design. Let stand until dry, about 30 minutes.

To assemble: Place one unglazed strip on serving platter. Spread half of pastry cream on top. Top with the other unglazed strip. Top with rest of pastry cream. Top that with glazed strip. Chill until firm, about and hour. (Don’t chill longer than 3 hours. It may get soggy.) For serving, cut with serrated knife.

Vanilla Pastry Cream Filling Recipe:

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 02 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/4 cups milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Preparation:

Boil 2 cups of milk. Beat yolks with sugar and remaining milk. Whisk until smooth. Add cornstarch and flour until combined. Gradually whisk hot milk into egg mixture. Return to saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture boils and thickens. Reduce to low and stir for 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Pour into a shallow disk. Cover with plastic wrap. (Make sure wrap touches surface to prevent a skim from forming.) Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. Makes approximately 2-3/4 cups.

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Also interesting on this September 7th – Some historical facts:

St. Gratus of Aosta, protector of vineyards
St. Regina, patron of shepherdesses

1840 Luther Crowell was born. He invented a machine to make square bottomed grocery bags.

1847 Henry David Thoreau left Walden Pond.

1912 David Packard was born. Founder with William Hewlett of the Hewlett Packard Company. Before they became famous for computers and printers etc., some of their early inventions were an automatic urinal flusher and a weight loss shock machine!

1971 The final episode of ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ TV show is aired.

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I won’t be making napoleons for today, but will be making my coconut oatmeal cookies for a church community function that is happening tomorrow, weather permitting.

Have a great September 7th. ~Chef Maven

National Blueberry Popsicle Day is September 2nd and St. Agricola of Avignon, Patron of rain, good weather and storks

Since I have started writing posts on which national food day is it, I am always impressed to also learn which foods are to be highlighted for that day. I usually wonder who comes up with this stuff and why was this day in particular chosen to be that special food day.

I also share today with you what the month of September’s foods are, the list is long, do just scroll down to read that. I could write many articles just on that! But who knew that September is National Mushroom Month, or National Chicken or Biscuit Month along with September being National Cholesterol Awareness Month. Article Ideas are blooming in my head.

And why one would have selected biscuits and being aware of cholesterol in the same month is somewhat confusing for me, but heck, I do not make up these choices. I just write about them. So let’s read on, shall we?

Other interesting food-related facts on the day, September 2nd:

1666 The Great Fire of London began in the shop of the King’s baker. After burning for four days, more than 13,000 buildings had been destroyed. I use King Arthur’s Flour On Occasion….

1752 Tomorrow was September 14. The Gregorian Calendar went into effect in Great Britain and its colonies, to correct an accumulated 11 day discrepancy. Most of the rest of the world had switched from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar in 1582. Now aren’t you glad you have your blackberry to let you know what date is it today?

1935 The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 hit the Florida Keys. Over 400 were killed and the Railroad to Key West was destroyed. It was the most powerful hurricane to ever hit the U.S., with winds estimated at 200 mph. I am super relieved that Gustav Hurricane arrived weaker than expected onto the New Orleans Shores.

1969 The first ATM is installed at the Chemical Bank in  Rockville Centre, New York. I can remember in the early 80′s when you could still get five bucks from the ATM’s – anyone else?

1973 J.R.R. Tolkien died. Author of ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. Food and hospitality play important roles in both. If you are one of those interested in learning and eating what a hobbit eats, you can click here, as I found a site dedicated in sharing with you what the Hobbits loved to eat and gobble down: http://www.strangehorizons.com/2008/20080211/green-a.shtml

1985 The wreckage of the British luxury liner ‘Titanic’ was located 73 years after it sank. This inspired a new interest in the menu and last meals that were served on the ship. This makes me wonder what foods were served on the titanic…I did a search for you…just scroll down to read that…

September is also:

  • All-American Breakfast Month
  • Hug a Texas Chef Month
  • Mom & Apple Pie Month
  • National Biscuit Month
  • National Chicken Month
  • National Cholesterol Awareness Month
  • National ’5-A-Day’ Month (fruits & vegetables)
  • National Honey Month
  • National Mushroom Month
  • National Organic Harvest Month
  • National Papaya Month
  • National Potato Month
  • National Rice Month

Facts brought to me and you courtesy of foodreference.com

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So, what were foods and menus served on the Titanic? You can learn more at this site: http://www.euronet.nl/users/keesree/food.htm, but here is a bit of a recap for those not interesting on clicking on the link:

1st Class – April 14th, 1912 -Dinner- (The Last Dinner served aboard the Titanic)
First Course – Hors d’Oeuvre:

Canapés a l’ Amiral
Oysters a la Russe

White Bordeaux, White Burgundy or
Chablis (especially with oysters)

Second Course – Soups:
Consommé Olga
Cream of Barley Soup

Madeira or Sherry

Third Course – Fish:
Poached Salmon with Mousseline Sauce

Dry Rhine or Moselle

Fourth Course – Entrees:
Filet Mignon Lili
Sauté of Chicken Lyonnaise
Vegetable Marrow Farcie

Red Bordeaux

Fifth Course – Removes:
Lamb with Mint Sauce
Calvados-Glazed Roast Duckling
with Apple Sauce
Roast Sirloin of Beef forestiére
Chateau Potatoes
Minted Green Pea Timbales
Creamed Carrots
Boiled Rice
Parmentier and Boiled New Potatoes

Red Burgundy or Beaujolais

Sixth Course – Punch or Sorbet:
Punch Romaine

Seventh Course – Roast:
Roasted Squab on Wilted Cress

Red Burgundy

Eighth Course – Salad:
Cold Asparagus Salad with
Champagne-Saffron Vinaigrette

Ninth Course – Cold Dish:
Páté de Foie Gras
Celery

Sauterne or Sweet Rhine Wine

Tenth Course – Sweets:
Waldorf Pudding
Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly
Chocolate Painted Eclairs
with French Vanilla Cream
French Vanilla Ice Cream

Sweet Dessert Wines (Muscatel, Tokay, Sauterne)

Eleventh Course – Dessert:
Assorted Fresh Fruits and cheeses

Sweet Dessert Wines, Champagne, or Sparkling Wine

After Dinner:
Coffee, cigars

Port or Cordial

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Wow That is a lot of good sounding food, and certainly dishes I have never heard of before such as Romaine Sherbet or Chateau Potatoes – one can only imagine…but for today, September 2nd is Blueberry Popsicle day, here is a recipe to make your very own blueberry popsicles:

Blueberry Popsicle Recipe courtesy of receipezar.com

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Blend blueberries, yogurt, milk, and sugar until smooth.
  2. Pour mixture into eight 5-ounce paper cups.
  3. Place foil over the top of each cup.
  4. Pierce the center of the foil and insert a wooden craft stick as the handle.
  5. Freeze up to six hours.
  6. Before serving, dip cups in warm water for a few seconds.
  7. Remove paper and foil.
  8. Send children outside to drip and make a mess. Stand at window and wave at them while you eat yours.
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So Who Was St. Agricola of Avignon?
Courtesy of Wikipedia.com:
Saint Agricola (Agricol, Agricolus) of Avignon (c. 630-c. 700) was a bishop of Avignon. According to tradition, Agricola was the son of Saint Magnus, also a bishop of the city.At the age of sixteen, he was professed a monk at the Abbey of Lérins. However, at the age of thirty, he was summoned by his father Magnus to Avignon, where he was appointed coadjutor. When his father died in 660, he succeeded as bishop. He built a church in the city that was staffed by the monks of Lérins. He built a convent for Benedictine nuns. He was a well-known preacher, and famous for his charity and defense of the poor and sick against civil authorities.He died of natural causes.

Veneration

A charter of 919 mentions that Saint Agricola had been buried in the Avignon church dedicated to Saint Peter (Saint-Pierre).[1] At the end of the eleventh century, Bishop Arbert of Avignon made a donation that referred to an abbey of Saint-Agricol. The church of Saint-Agricol (Saint Agricola) seems to have been built in the twelfth century, and made collegial in 1321 by Pope John XXII, one of the Avignon-based popes, who equipped it with a statute and income. It is possible that on this occasion that the transfer of the relics of St. Agricola from the church of Saint-Pierre to Saint-Agricol occurred. They are still preserved in this church.

The cult of Saint Agricola increased in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and in 1647, he was declared patron of the city by Archbishop César Argelli. He was called upon time and again to obtain rain during times of drought.

Fifteenth-century documents record that he prevented an invasion of storks by his blessing. He is thus patron of storks and is depicted with them as his emblem.

Since 1647, he is the patron saint of Avignon. He is also invoked against the bubonic plague and misfortune of all kinds. Devotees prayed to him for good weather, fine harvests, and rain. His feast day is September 2.

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So I am sure you have learned more than you thought you would for this day, September 2nd and what foods are the National Food Day. With all the menues I read today from what a hobbit eats to what was served on the Titanic, I feel that I need to write an article on the National Cholesterol Awareness Month…. or at least stay away from butter today – NOT!
Since September is National Biscuit Month and it is still morning while I write this post, I tell you I am having a yearning in making some fresh biscuits served up hot out of the oven with honey and butter…
Have a great first day of school for all those starting this week!
~Chef Maven
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