May 13, 2016

Vegetable Napoleon Sandwich

by Marjan
For the love of art, food, and healthy eating; this is part two of three posts linking the creative process between art and food.
Last week's recipe for rainbow colored quiche focused on the pertinence of  igniting all five senses. My recipe for vegetable napoleon is intended to showcase art and delicious food while highlighting it's healthy component as well.
With the passing of time, it's interesting to observe the evolvement of food trends, recipes, and cooking techniques.  For examples, let's consider juicing. Remember when our only source of vegetable juice was either a V8, orange, apple and cranberry juice? Now think to yourself of all the variety of brands, fruit or vegetable combinations, and juicing techniques available for consumers at most grocery stores.
I therefore upgraded the basic cucumber sandwich served at tea parties and the classic Persian appetizer of feta cheese, fresh herbs and tomato sandwich into a new recipe for vegetable napoleon.
Vegetables such as thin slices of Persian cucumbers, radishes, tomatoes and herbs are stacked between layers of pumpernickel bread held together with whipped cream cheese and Greek yogurt. Healthy, beautiful, and delicious, this savory napoleon is cut and served very much the same as cake.
Recently I hosted over thirty people for an extravagant tea party. As you can imagine, making little bite size cucumber sandwiches would be tedious and conventional. I wanted to create a exceptional appetizer that was also easy. Therefore, a day in advance, I prepared this delicious napoleon and placed final decorations hours prior to arrival of my guests. Beautiful, creamy, light, healthy, flavorful sandwiches delighted my guests. They actually insisted I post this recipe, as they too where inspired to make this delicious cake and eat it too!


Ingredients

12 slices of pumpernickel or squaw bread
1 cup of cream cheese; room temperature
1/2 cup greek yogurt + 1 cup of greek yogurt; room temperature
10-12 Persian cucumbers sliced thin; English cucumbers are easier to utilize, but not as flavorful- will need only 2 since they are thicker and longer
6 radishes sliced thin
2-3 ripe red organic tomatoes thinly sliced
2-3 sprigs of fresh herbs such dill, basil, tarragon
handful of yellow and red heirloom tomatoes, along with 2-3 Persian cucumbers and radishes to decorate;
1 packet of clear Gelatin
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

**madeline may be used to cut vegetables into even size slices

Number of ingredients will vary due to size of vegetables, bread, and slices. Therefore, I suggest having plenty of ingredients on hand and disregard amount of ingredients suggested and decide on size of serving based on how large you intend to make the Vegetable Napoleon.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixture, whip together 1 cup of cream cheese along with 1/2 cup of yogurt until a silky smooth mixture develops.
In a saucepan, combine whipping cream and gelatin and let sit at room temperature while preparing cake layers.
Stack bread on top of each other and in a straight line using a large bread slicing knife, cut off all the crust edges of bread rendering equal, square size bread pieces.
On a large, flat decorative serving platter, place 6 slices of bread in two rows of three, next to each other creating a rectangle. Cut strips of parchment paper and place under the bread edges to be removed after final touches of decorations are completed.  This will allow a easy clean up of serving platter without making a mess. Spread half of cream cheese mix on top of bread slices, making certain slices adhere together creating the base for the vegetables. It is alright to have little bit of cheese mix fall out of the edges of bread.
Next step is to create layers of vegetables. For this step, I suggest placing rows of sliced vegetable from the edges first and then filling in the middle. This will create a more beautiful uniform look. Place one even layer of cucumbers on top of cheese. Use approximately 1/2 of cucumber slices laying them flat next to each other, rendering two to three layers of cucumbers. Top with entire radish slices spreading them next to each other covering cucumbers. Again repeat with 2 rows of three bread slices on top of radishes. Use remaining cream cheese mix to cover entire bread surface binding bread together. Place all tomato slices on top of cream cheese mix; use remaining cucumbers to cover tomato slices. Placing tomatoes on top of cheese followed by cucumbers on top, prevents bread from becoming soggy.
Place saucepan of gelatin and cream over low heat. Using a French whip, mix these two ingredients for 4-5 minutes until cream is hot (but not boiling) and gelatin is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and add 1 cup of Greek yogurt and whip ingredients until silky smooth. Set aside for 15 minutes at room temperature to cool.
Using a large spoon, pour yogurt mix on top of cucumbers to cover entire cucumber surface. Use the back of your spoon if necessary to spread yogurt. Place in fridge for at least 4 hours or over night.
Prior to presentation, cut in half heirloom tomatoes, slice radishes and cucumbers and decorate yogurt layer to your liking. Use fresh herbs and decorate top of cake for a beautiful finishing touch. Remove parchment paper prior to presentation. Using a sharp knife, servings are cut the same as cake. Enjoy!



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