This is not a cooking blog

But every so often, I actually make something interesting and with enough finesse that it’s worth talking about! Last night, my family attended a multi-ethnic potluck. There were dishes from all over the world. Since I don’t have any particularly interesting cultural heritage to claim, I chose to contribute something from… surprise! France. (I actually do have some French blood, but it didn’t come with any culture to speak of). Originally, I was going to bring coq au vin, because it’s easy enough to throw in the crockpot. I changed my mind about three days before. Coq au vin is good and all, but it may not seem too different from any number of chicken stews. But French dessert! You can always recognize a French dessert. I decided to make mille feuille. They look impressive, but really aren’t all that difficult if you use frozen puff pastry. If you have the time and inclination to make your own puff pastry, well… more power to ya. Three small crazy people barely let me make dinner some nights without fifty-three interruptions.

The name mille feuille means “1000 leaves/sheets” and is a reference to the flakiness of the puff pastry once it’s baked. Mille feuille (pronounce it “meel fuh-yuh” and make me proud) also sounds a lot classier.

“Tonight for dessert, I’m serving 1000 Sheets!”  There’s no class there.

After cutting up the thawed puff pastry into something approximating rectangles, I had to find room in the fridge for four baking sheets to let them chill for half an hour. This required some interesting physics.

If I balance this one on the milk jug and wedge it between the side of the fridge and that bottle...

Meanwhile, I got to work on the custard. Six egg yolks, people! You know what that means? That means that I now have a bowl of six egg whites sitting in my fridge waiting for their culinary destiny. It may be lemon meringue pie (note the lemon in the above photo). Anyways, the custard’s not too tough to make. Lots of whisking involved. Whisk yolks and sugar. Whisk heating milk. Whisk milk into yolks. Whisk, whisk, whisk away!

What did the whisk say to the egg whites? I was just yolking.

So now, everything’s baked, everything’s whisked, time for assembly. Back in the “slice the pastry dough” phase, I should have gotten out a ruler because having nice, uniform pastry, um, shapes would have helped in the building process. As it was, there was a lot of mix n’ match involved and hoping that nothing would collapse. Kind of like Jenga, except with food.

Layer number one: pastry, custard, berries

It was very tempting not to pop raspberries in my mouth as I went along. One for the pastry, one for me, one for the pastry… But I refrained, and a good thing, too. When I finished the last mille feuille, I had just four raspberries left. I was nice and gave them to my family, because that’s what mothers do.

The potluck was a lot of fun. I tried food from Japan, the Philippines, China, Jordan, Ghana, Sweden (apparently all they eat are meatballs there? Three Swedish contributions = three pots of meatballs), and Germany. Rana and Granota devoured some kind of chicken and rice thing from Kyrgyzstan. I can’t even say that (And I couldn’t spell it, either; I’m trusting spellchecker on that one).  By the time we got to the European line, all of the Italian, Portugese, French, and Hungarian food was gone. Judging from people’s plates, it looked like the mille feuille were one of the first things to go. One woman later told Mr. Gren that they were good, so I guess we’ll just have to take her word for it!

Final product. Not too shabby, eh?

I’ve got lots of pastry… rhombuses (seems to be my shape of choice) left, so I’ll make more for me and the family later this week. At this point, I just can’t imagine what I’ll do with another six egg whites.


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