Saturday, August 27, 2011
For Julio's last dinner here, I invited round friends he'd already met (I'd been meaning to have them to dinner for ages) and roasted a nice piece of pork. I knew he liked light desserts, so the night before I made my favourite lemon mousse. It's a recipe I cut out of an impulse-buy copy of Vogue Entertaining and Travel in March 1999, and have used scores of times.
I suppose it's not really "light" at all, with 300mls of cream, but the delicate lemony fluff seems to float out of the bowl, off the spoon and into your mouth all by itself. The other thing I love about this is that it's made from basic, cheap ingredients that don't need to be hunted down.
You'll need a lot of bowls - two large, one medium and one small. Although it says "whisk", I use an electric beater for everything except the gelatine.
(This quantity serves 6 moderate people, or 4 greedy ones, or 4 on the night and a cook's reward next day)
185g castor sugar
3 large eggs, separated into two large bowls
juice and grated zest of 2 good-sized lemons or 3 smaller ones
1/3 cup boiling water
3 tsps powdered gelatine
Take the large bowl with the egg yolks and gradually whisk in the sugar until it turns pale and thick.
Add the lemon juice, a spoonful at a time, while whisking continuously.
Stir in the lemon zest. (The original recipe doesn't say so, but it's a good idea to blanch the zest for a minute in boiling water so it becomes softer and less bitter. Drain it thoroughly before mixing it in.)
Pour the boiling water into a small bowl. Sprinkle over the gelatine and whisk until it dissolves. Gradually stir this into the yolk mixture.
In a separate bowl, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Gradually fold the cream into the yolk mixture, using a metal spoon.
Take the large bowl with the egg whites and whisk them until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold into the mixture.
Pour gently into a serving dish (glass looks lovely). Cover with cling wrap. Refrigerate overnight or until the mousse is set (at least 4 hours).
Much to my relief, the pork was perfect (my oven seems to be getting less and less reliable), and we had it with roast potatoes and red cabbage with apple. Julio loved it, he said it's what his family eats on New Year's Day, though they have it with rice and salad.
I made two-thirds of the mousse recipe, because I knew that given my sensible guests (Julio, like Harvey, never seems to eat too much of anything), if I made it all I'd probably end up scoffing far more than was good for me. There was barely a bowl-scrape left.