01 June 2012

Strawberry-Rhubarb Stacks and A Nod to Julie Powell




Julie, Julie, Julie! Just look what you've done! I wonder if you sometimes think about the numbers, no, legions, of foodies that have joined the blogging world because of your memoir and blog. I wonder if you are completely happy with the level of notoriety that your romping through Julia Child's masterpiece, Mastering the Art of French Cooking brought to you? It has certainly earned you the final place on Gourmet's on-line magazine list of 50 Woman Game Changers. Your humor, angst, and fearless approach toward some of those daunting recipes have inspired many a cook to haul out the cookware, sharpen the knives, track down the ingredients, and get to it in the kitchen!




Good for you! I imagine, though, that you don't give a ratatouille's ass about all the attention. Somehow, I think your mind must be on the next great project ... I see that you've spent a huge block of time recently learning the art of butchering and charcuterie. I can only speculate what will come next! Perhaps cheesemaking or pastry preparation?





Today, I am making a pseudo-Napoleon ... it's strawberry and rhubarb season here in New England and I have a luncheon to attend. So, my sweet offering is a Strawberry-Rhubarb Stack. Yes, it's a pseudo-French dish - no offense, but some might consider all your efforts 'pseudo-efforts', hence the inspiration. None the less, it is delicious and after some fussing about in the kitchen, it looks inpressive ... and that IS what it's all about. 

So, start with a sheet of puff pastry dough rolled and cut into individual rectangular pieces. Place them on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and bake them until they are puffed and golden.
As you can see, I used a sheet of Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pastry, as I think making it is a whole lotta faff.




Once the pastry blocks have cooled, slice them in half and flip them open to receive the filling. I matched the sizes, as I wasn't very scientific about how I cut up the dough ... a pizza cutter and a few fast zips. You can measure and be accurate if you like.





Once the pastry blocks are split, set them aside and make a strawberry-rhubarb sauce. I got this idea for the recipe from a guy in the liquor store. We were discussing whether one needs to have high-quality vodka for making a rhubarb cordial that I am making and when he heard me say that I was making a cordial with rhubarb, he told me that his mother likes to make a rhubarb sauce for topping pancakes and ice cream with strawberries, rhubarb, and (drum roll, please!) Amaretto. Holy Moley! I just put that concept on my mental back burner until I thought about making a Napoleon. And then ... magic happened!  So in my stacks is a strawberry-rhubarb sauce with Amaretto as the accent flavour. You cook the berries and rhubarb down with sugar, water, and Amaretto until the fruit is soft, whiz it in a blender, return it to the pot and add a cornstarch slurry to make a thick sauce that will cling to a spoon. Then, you chill the sauce in an ice bath until you can work with it.






While the sauce chills, make a sweet whipped cream with heavy cream, confectioner's sugar and a wee bit more Amaretto. Then, assemble the stacks. I used five blocks of puff pastry and sprinkled confectioner's sugar on the top pastry block. The stacks are really pretty on a nice platter. Just pop the platter in the fridge to chill the pastries and serve them with a nice cup of coffee, some Prosecco, or a pot of tea.





Strawberry-Rhubarb Napoleons

Serves 12

Ingredients:

1 package frozen puff pastry (Pepperidge Farm)
3 c. rhubarb, chopped
1 qt. strawberries, hulled and chopped
1 c. sugar
½ c. water
2 tbsp. Amaretto liqueur
¼ c. water mixed with 2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 c. heavy cream
2 generous tbsp. confectioner’s sugar
2 tsp. Amaretto liqueur

Parchment paper for cookie sheets
Two large platters

Making the Dish:


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 °F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Place the sheets of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and unfold them.
  3. Use a pizza cutter to divide them into thirds … length-wise. Then, cut them cross-wise into uniform rectangle. Each large sheet of puff pastry should make fifteen small rectangles.
  4. Place the rectangles slightly apart on the cookie sheets and bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove and cool on racks.
  6. Place the rhubarb, strawberries, water, sugar, and Amaretto in a heavy sauce pan and bring to a bubble over medium heat. Stir frequently until the fruit is soft and there is a sugary syrup bubbling around the fruit. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool slightly.
  7. Turn the fruit into a blender and whiz to make a smooth sauce.
  8. Turn the sauce back into the pan and add the cornstarch slurry. Turn the heat up to a medium and stir to thicken to a custard consistency.
  9. Turn the hot sauce into a deep bowl and place the bowl in an ice water bath to chill it quickly.
  10. While the sauce chills, make the whipped cream by whizzing the heavy cream, confectioner’s sugar, and Amaretto in a deep bowl. Keep chilled.
  11. Assemble the Napoleons by spooning a small amount of the cold strawberry rhubarb sauce onto one of the pastry squares. Top with a pastry square with a dollop of the whipped cream, another square with strawberry rhubarb sauce, another with whipped cream, and finally, sprinkle the top square with confectioner’s sugar and place that on top. That makes five pieces of pastry per Napoleon.
  12. Repeat making the Napoleons until the pastry squares are used up. There should be 12 individual Napoleons. Chill them until ready to serve … no longer than 4 hours or the pastry will get soggy.
  13. Bottle up the remaining strawberry-rhubarb sauce and refrigerate it for use on pancakes or ice cream.

That's it, folks! The last of the 50 Woman Game Changers! I'd like to thank Mary Bergfeld for organizing this fun and inspiring blogshare. It's been a ton of work on her part and I soo appreciate all her efforts! It's been fun to meet and work with so many talented food bloggers over the past year ... gosh, what will we move onto now ?!?

I plan to hop over to One Perfect Bite and see what everyone else has posted, first. Then, I'll be having a Napoleon in honor of Julie Powell and Julia Child! Bon appetit!



14 comments:

  1. Wow, these Napoleans look like eye candy! I would be drooling over them if they were in my fridge. BTW, are you going to be participating in the new group: 38 power foods?

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    1. Not sure whether it's an invite thing ... if so, I haven't been invited. If it isn't an invite, I'll have to investigate! Sounds like fun!

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  2. How sweet this is - and it's rhubarb and strawberry season here and I am a rhubarb-cooking machine - so you know I'll be doing this sweet confection. What a fun project! I have so enjoyed meeting all of you will keep in touch via your blogs.

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  3. Bon Appetit!!! This is a glorious way to end the series with a tribute dessert to Julie and Julia. We have learned so much over the last year, and met so many new blggers. But what has struck a cord with me in your posy and made us kindred spirits is your use of the word faff! My mom always used that word. So lets stop faffing around and lets get cooking!!!!

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  4. Oh my, these Napoleons look incredibly delicious! Such a lovely post about Julie! It’s been fun!

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  5. Those look sooooo good, Susan! I adore rhubarb too. Perfect dessert for a summers day.
    Our series has been fun and I've loved meeting all of you. I'll still be visiting you!

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  6. I love rhubarb! What a wonderful recipe. Thanks for sharing with us this one last time.

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  7. Those are absolutely gorgeous Susan! I've been thinking I should make something with rhubarb too as it's that time of year. I've enjoyed watching you follow along with the 50 Woman Game Changers. Looking forward to what's next!

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    1. Thanks, Brenda! Let me know if you see something fun and interesting in your Internet travels ... I will def miss this blogging project!

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  8. I am so impressed; you are good! I can almost taste your creations!
    Rita

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  9. Indeed. I think she has achieved what she wanted and doesn't care what others think. This pseudo-napolean is absolutely mouthwatering - delicious sendout for our 50 ladies! =)

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  10. I loved your post today, Susan. Forgive my tardiness in responding to it. Things tend to get crazy around here. The Napoleons sound better than delicious. I guess that makes them scrumptious :) They've certainly made me hungry. It has been so nice to have you participate in the nifty fifty challenge with us. You've added so much to the project. I'll still be stopping by, so keep those glorious creations coming. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

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  11. how did I miss these STUNNING treats!!!... AMAZING!!!!... I love them and the rhubarb strawberry combo is to DIE for!!! wonderful!

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  12. Those stacks look amazing Susan! The colours in your photograph are stunning. My mouth is watering thinking of sweet pastry and rhubarb!

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