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Celebrating "Cream Puff Day" and St. David's Day
Submitted by Pam on Wed, 02/26/2014 - 19:55
Tomorrow - February 27th is "Cream Puff Day" at my house!
Many cultures recognize "Fat Tuesday" - the Tuesday before Lent (the beginning of the fasting period preceding Easter) - as the day to make merry and stuff themselves in preparation for the fast; and families in Poland, Estonia, Sweden almost always enjoy eating creme filled buns - similar to cream puffs. But the day is also known as "Pancake Day" and since I am usually busy eating pancakes on that day, on the Thursday before Lent (when many pre-lent carnivals begin), I make it a point to eat cream puffs!
But this year, I am treating myself to something very special that caught my eye and fired my imagination several years ago in "The Rancho de Chimayo Cookbook" by Cheryl and Bill Jamison.
Apparently a frequent patron of the famous New Mexican restaurant loved to fill warm sopillas with cold silky Natillas topped off with a bit of whipped cream. I just have never been able to get the idea out of my mind. And it turns out that is a very good thing because if like me you are a lover of Sopillas and Natillas, together they make a delicious version of a cream puff!
Natillas, a very silky, soft custard resembling crême anglaise or crème patissière, originated in Spain - most likely the Basque regions - and is often flavored with cinnamon. The lucious dessert eventually arrived in New Mexico by way of Spanish settlers, and over time (centuries in fact) infusing the custard with cinnamon became optional! Most recipes simply call for it to be sprinkled on top just before serving. Long slow cooking over low heat is key to success.
I've included links to a couple Natillas recipes on line here and here, but the method used in the cookbook is completely different and delivers an incredible custard. Well worth purchasing the cookbook! In fact, any of the many cookbooks written by this fabulous husband/wife team is worth seeking out and owning!!
Saturday, March 1st is St. David's Day!
St. David is the patron saint of Wales. My great grandfather came to this country from Wales and as I begin to learn more and more about my cultural heritage and the magically beautiful countryside he left behind, I make it a point to observe the day in small ways.
I always try to force or purchase daffodils. This year, however, things got left to the last minute and I had to settle for the very last daffodil left in the whole store!
Set against a stark background of wintery bare branches outside my kitchen window (above)…
… the blossom heads are a joyful sight - full of promise that golden flowers should be bursting forth in just a few more days! I love how the blossom treasure hidden inside each green head appears shadow-like in early morning sun. (Look closely - I worked very hard to capture it for you!)
Although Welsh Cakes are frequently served on St. David's Day, I prefer making a lovely lamb, leek stew - sometimes with barley and sometimes with carrots and potatoes. Here are a couple links to Welsh recipes traditional on this day: here and here.
And you can find more ideas for celebrating and see gorgeous pictures of countryside in Wales here on Filth Wizardry- including how to make a paper leek - symbol of St. David.
If you are celebrating either of these two days, I would love to hear how!