mille-feuille

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in japan, women give chocolate to men on valentine’s day. and men return gifts a month later on white day (march 14th). on white day, men can give anything in white: underwear, handkerchiefs, jewelry, etc.

in canada, men give roses to women on valentine’s day. i have the luxury of receiving a gift, but there is no official day to return the favor. so i decided to return the tradition and give something white on white day. last year, i made white mochi filled with raspberries and white chocolate. this year, i made mille-feuille.

for valentine’s, paul and i went to moose jaw, about two hours drive south from saskatoon. moose jaw has a spa with a natural hot spring outdoor bath. i didn’t realize there was a hot spring in saskatchewan — i thought they were only in british columbia and alberta. so it was a nice surprise when paul found out about the spa in moose jaw.

the room we stayed in had a jet bath right next to the bed — no door involved. it reminded me of love hotels in japan, but it was surprisingly less tacky. maybe because there was no neon, or mirrors over the bed.

there’s an indoor pool on the top floor of the hotel that extends outside, where there’s a balcony surrounding the hot pool with the open sky above. in japan, this kind of thing is called “rotenburo” (literally, “bath under the skies”). people like to go to rotenburo especially in winter, when you can take a bath surrounded by snow.

this is canada, so the “rotenburo” was a pool, not a bath. everyone wears swimsuits, unlike in japan.

after dinner, we went to the outdoor pool. it was nearly midnight – around closing time, so there was only one other couple there. they were making out in the middle of the indoor pool, so we headed outside. the bath was surrounded by thousands of tiny christmas lights wrapped around the winter trees and we could see stars overhead. clouds of steam softened the effect. it was very beautiful. when the steam wrapped around the bare trees and fell down to us, it was as if we had thousands of leaves wrapped around us.

here’s the recipe i used for mille-feuille, from the joy of cooking. i cheated and bought frozen puff pastry, instead of making my own.

recipe

you need puff pastry. i bought it, cut it with a cookie cutter, and baked it according to the instructions. you can make your original pastry, if you know how. good luck…

the trick with the pastry is to press it down while baking so it doesn’t rise too much. i didn’t have anything to press it down with, so my mille-feuille is way too puffy.

pastry cream

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 2 TBSP cornstarch
  • 4 large egg yolk

beat in a medium bowl on high speed until thick and pale yellow (about two minutes).

meanwhile, in a medium saucepan:

  • 1 1/3 cups milk

bring to a simmer.

gradually pour about one-third of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking to combine. scrape the egg mixture back into the pan and cook over low to medium heat, whisking constantly and scraping the bottom and corners of the pan to prevent scorching, until the custard is thickened and beginning to bubble. then continue to cook, whisking, for 45 to 60 seconds. using a clean spatula, scrape the custard into a clean bowl.

stir in:

  • 3/4 tsp vanilla

cover the surface of the custard with a piece of wax or parchment paper to prevent a skin from forming. let cool, then refrigerate before using. this keeps, refrigerated, for up to two days.

raspberry sauce

combine and bring to a boil over low heat:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water

add:

  • 1 cup fresh or unthawed frozen raspberries

stir until the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes.

add:

  • 1/2 tsp grated orange zest, vanilla

blend it with a hand blender and strain and discard seeds and pulp. pour the sauce back into a saucepan and reduce sauce by half.

layer the puff pastry circles with custard and raspberry sauce. serve with a glass of milk and a kiss.

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