A Cooking Challenge is a wonderful way for amateur chefs to inspire each other to create new dishes. For me, the theme was most recently: France Cooking Challenge! What came to my mind and how you can cook it, you can read here.
When cooking with friends, we also challenge each other to theme cooking sometimes. We cook together, or everyone contributes something to the menu. One of us is the chef de cuisine and always wears the proverbial hat – or rather the chef’s hat.
When choosing our mottoes, we like to choose terms that initially have nothing to do with food. The motto cooking then becomes a real creative challenge for the chef, who has to come up with something for it. But such mottos stimulate the imagination enormously and spur us on to culinary peak performances: Motto cooking is with us also always the challenge, how well you master the challenge..
My first step in coming up with ideas for motto cooking is to collect associations that are related to the motto. So in this case, France under Napoleon. The following were some of my association chains:.
From these ideas I developed the 3 courses of my very own Napoleon menu.
I admit it: when it came to appetizers, I chose something simple that really just needed to be put in the oven: snails with garlic butter. What do you associate with French cuisine? I think we all know the cliché: frogs’ legs!
Frogs’ legs, however, are difficult to get in Germany and for species protection reasons also ethically a questionable choice. The second typical French delicacy that came to mind were vine snails.
Just like frogs’ legs, snails are not to everyone’s taste. But who is not disgusted by it, I would advise to try them. Snails are now also available frozen in many German supermarkets. Snails are the taste and consistency most comparable to shrimp and mussels..
Napoleon came from Corsica, you could say, for his enemies he was the “”Corsican terror””. In Corsica, in fact, there is a very special native species of vine snail. This snail is very rare and the vine snails I served were probably not Corsican..
But the theme cooking also requires creativity in naming the dishes. So I baptized the first course “Corsican snails” in honor of Napoleon, the “Corsican terror. 😉
Or for those who speak and love French: “Escargots corses”.
1-2 packages of vine snails from the supermarket (one package usually contains 12 pieces)
For the preparation of the snails, real gourmets use special snail pans. To try it out, however, it is enough if you cook the snails on a baking sheet in the oven.
Just make sure that the delicious herb butter does not flow away. To pull the snail out of its shell, there are special snail tongs. But with a fork with long prongs or a toothpick and a little skill you also get to the goal 😉.
In this theme cooking for the main course, I took on something more elaborate. I had my mind set on preparing Napoleon’s hat and the French flag!.
Still today it is the pride of the French and not only soccer fans know it worldwide: the French flag, also known as Tricolore. The three vertical stripes in blue, white and red date back to the time of the French Revolution. They stand for its values: liberty, equality and fraternity. Since 1794, the Tricolore is the official flag of France..
My idea was to arrange on each main dish this flag as a background. White and red were found quickly: white rice and a spicy pepper-tomato sauce as a red stripe. There aren’t many naturally blue dishes, but I finally settled on blueberries. Also for me was a surprise how excellent the blueberries of my creation fit..
How can you tell that someone is dressed as Napoleon? First and foremost by the typical hat, the curved two-pointed hat. Today, one links this hat so much with the French conqueror that he also carries the name Napoleon’s hat.
I wanted to serve this hat on the Tricolore and tried to build it from breaded pork cutlets. Judge for yourself about the result! 🙂
At the end, I couldn’t resist rounding out my main course with a visual calabash. While arranging the Napoleon hat and tricolore on each plate, I placed another bowl of red beans on the table. Everyone could take beans separately. Thus, unlike the other ingredients, I served the beans apart…. 😉
I gave the main course the sonorous name: A two-tip on three colors, plus Bonaparte or for francophones: “Un bicorne sur drapeau tricolore avec Bonaparte”.
Boil the rice for about 20 min until soft and lightly salt. Finely chop the peppers, onion and garlic and fry briefly at high temperature in a little oil. Then deglaze with the chopped tomatoes and some red wine, simmer briefly and season with salt and pepper. Wash and drain the blueberries.
Tip: you want to get a nice flag, so your red sauce should not be too liquid, because otherwise it runs on the plate and the colors mix.
If possible, already cut the cutlets into the shape of a napoelonhut. First roll in flour, then in beaten eggs, roll in breadcrumbs or breadcrumbs and fry in plenty of oil over high heat until crispy. So the breading works best in my experience..
On each plate you then first arrange the tricolore. Start with a thick center strip of white rice, then you can arrange to the left of it with the blueberries and to the right of it with your bell pepper tomato sauce the other strips..
On top of the tricolore you put a cutlet in the shape of a Napoleon hat. If you have several smaller shreds, you can also lean two against each other like a house of cards and thus make a three-dimensional two-peak.
Of course, a good French red wine goes wonderfully with the main course!
Whether Napoleon was more of a blessing or a curse for Europe is something I prefer to leave to historians. I lived a few years in Franconia and there one still resents Napoleon for having awarded the region of Franconia to the Kingdom of Bavaria as a territory in 1803.
Even more decisive for my naming of the dessert, however, was that this title simply sounds good in French: “l’horreur de l’Europe”.
What I served under this name was a fine vanilla cream French style, garnished with the very freely designed grimace of Napoleon! 😉
Whip the heavy cream or fraîche (slightly lower fat) with a whisk or electric hand mixer until stiff. Melt the butter in a saucepan at low temperature and then beat until fluffy. Slit the vanilla bean with a sharp knife, scrape out the pith and mix with the butter. Beat the vanilla sugar and powdered sugar with the 6 egg yolks and a pinch of salt and egg yolks in a warm water bath for 10 minutes until creamy..
Fold the egg yolk and sugar mixture gradually into the fluffy butter. Then fold in the double cream and chill the french vanilla cream for about 4 hours..
Before serving, decorate according to your taste: for example, with Napoleon’s face, or any other motif that fits your France Cooking Challenge.
I wish you: Bon Appetit!
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