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Archive for the ‘mousse’ Category

The produce at our local markets has grown and multiplied from a few sparse punnet baskets and bunches of herbs to tables creaking and groaning under the plenitude and abundance of Summer Harvest; farmers groggy and bewildered by the weeks of harvesting, packing, selling, counting and chatting with the locals.  Speaking of local, have you seen this? It’s a message I wish more people would take to heart and it comes from an unusual source; more proof that the message is sinking in to a larger audience and being picked up as a marketing tool by larger corporations.  Nothing wrong with that, if you ask me. Let’s get this voice out there a bit, yes?

I’ve taken a little hiatus, so to speak, from the blogosphere to concentrate on various little projects that have kept me out of trouble over the warmer months.  The last week, however, I’ve been a captive to my kitchen, a large quantity of jamming jars and boxes and bags of fresh produce that I’ve been slowly turning into the most delicious, tempting, multi-coloured jars of preserves, pickles, chutneys and jams.  I’ve gone through all my aprons, tea towels, wooden spoons and dish soap in an attempt to keep up with the seemingly never ending supply of this wonderful season’s fruits and vegetables.  I’ve stirred bubbling pots of sticky, syrupy jams until my arms have gone into spasm.  I’ve washed utensils and sieves and strainers until my fingernails have become soft as jelly.  And I’ve loved every hot, sweaty, sticky minute of it.  I look at the mountain of red and purple and green jars growing larger and larger on the counter and think forward to the cold months coming too soon to meet us, and the joy we’ll all get opening up those jars, Summer springing forth again like a surprise visit from an old family friend as we dip into the sticky, sweet, sour or bitter preserves inside. But more about that later.  It’s time for a little catch up.

While I have been absent in the digital sense, I’ve been far from quiet in the kitchen.  In fact, as absent from or tired of I get of one thing or another, somehow I always have time for the kitchen.  I find that the act of cooking in the kitchen metomorphosizes  to suite my mood: from a comforting hug for a bruised or bitter soul to an outward expression of joy and happy energy, the kitchen shapes itself around my current mood, filling in the gaps, holding me upright, much in the same way as that personification of love, the ever supportive Mr P.  And Stirring and seasoning and sieving my way through the last few months, I’ve made a couple share-worthy things:

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Like a trio of Strawberry and Rhubarb concoctions not tried before in the Lick Your Own Bowl Kitchen:

Firstly, a Strawberry Rhubarb bread pudding made with an unopened, left over Panettoni from Christmas.

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Then came a Strawberry Rhubarb Cookie Sandwich, using up a half batch of sugar cookie dough left in the fridge from a previous endeavor.

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Finally, for a picnic with friends on the banks of Lake Ontario, celebrating Canada’s Birthday, tartlets of Strawberry Rhubarb Mousse with a minted Strawberry Rhubarb Salsa.

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If you’re in the same boat as me (and by boat I mean relative age category) you’ll remember the Guns ‘n Roses track “November Rain”. If you were in the Romantic Teenage Angst Boat at the time you’ll no doubt be thinking of the sad “death” of a ravishing Stephanie Seymour and that dress, coveted by teenage girls the world over. Well, I’m a little off topic here, but bare with me. Growing up on the High Veld of South Africa, one could only associate November Rain with that gorgeous rush of a late afternoon thunderstorm, a perfect tribute in the Romantic Mind of an Angst-ridden Teen to the loved-and-lost epiphany of pour ol’ Axl Rose.

It’s only now, in my second November in North America, that I can look back at that video and realise (as one so often does when thinking back to one’s teen years) just how very, very wrong I was. I remember last November in Toronto well: the huddling masses, waiting, shivering and dripping for a tram; the crouching of the pedestrian population into their soggy coats and the squelching of water-ridden shoes and socks. November Rain, it seems, has nothing much to do with passion and glory and the lightening strike of True Love (with an electric guitar). It has to do with endless, grey and sombre days; dripping, sopping, wet days and not enough love to go around.

None of this Novemberness is in anyway helping with my exasperation at not yet being back at my stove. Well, not successfully, in any event. We cooked our first meal last night, with a friend come to visit, and it was a dismal, if laughable, failure. After discovering late in the day that the soup I’d left out to defrost was marked “Country Soup” in my sloppy handwriting, and not “Vegetable Soup” for the simple reason that it had ham in it, and our guest being vegetarian, I rifled in the fridge and settled on making a spinach and mushroom soup with purple potatoes. Sounds yummy, non? And really, how hard could it be? It’s soup! It’s easy! Except, that in my distracted state of being, I doubled the amount of stock in the pot and ended up with a green, watery grave for the potatoes to bob around in. After reducing it for as long as I thought I could get away with, I discovered that the stock, once thus condensed, had turned the soup far too salty. Ah well, at least the sun-dried tomato and herb bread was good.

Oh, patience, Vickers, I keep telling myself. Before you know it all the boxes will be packed away and you’ll be baking batches of biscuits till the cows come home. Le sigh. In the mean time I’ll think back to that time I like to call Before The Rain and a walk I took in the park…

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White and dark chocolate mousse

Nothing is calming down in this household at the moment. No sooner do I drop my bags at the door, when I have to pick up the packaging tape and bubble wrap and start packing all over again. Yip, we’re a-movin’. I think back over the last chunk of my life and realise that I’ve moved every single year (at least once) for the last 8 years. That’s a lot of packaging tape, and a lot why-won’t-the-espresso-maker-fit-in-this-box frustration. Though, I’m really excited about this next move. It’s to a house, you see. A real house, a tall house, a house with an Outside where I can (hopefully) grow a tomato or two come the Spring. We’ll see just how green my thumbs are then, won’t we?

In the mean time I’m going to take a moment and remember a little bowl of comfort I made for a friend just before the last set of jetting. For recipe’s, go here and here. Here’s what I changed from there:

– I adjusted the recipe’s to allow for 2 egg whites per mousse. I used 4 egg whites all together, beat in one big bowl, then divided between each ganache.

– I didn’t put any spices or flavouring into the mousse (not even espresso, gasp!) and I used 60% chocolate for the dark mousse for a lighter flavour (my friend, Ms K has a milder palate)

– I spooned the different layers carefully from the sides of the glass to the middle. Start in the middle and the bit you’re adding just sinks to the bottom, pushing the bottom layer up the sides.

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Chocolate and Pear tart

I’m a tart for a tart, if you know what I mean. It seems to me that not that many people make tarts and pies in their own homes because they perceive making pastry as too much work and trouble to bother with. Much easier to make a cake, non? Well, the truth is that I love making pastry. And I don’t just mean in the eating thereof. I mean the whole shoopshebang of it. I love getting my fingers involved in a pate brise, I love having the ball of dough shaped in my hands before it goes in the fridge and I love, love, love rolling it all out on a floured work surface. It seems such an elemental thing, one of the simple pleasures in life, the antithesis of the rush and grind of everyday chores and work loads. When I’m in a bit of a grump, sometimes there’s nothing for it all but a bit of dough therapy. Of course, there’s an infinite amount of satisfaction in eating a freshly baked bit of pastry, filled with what-have-you, don’t you agree? Oh, and when you’re cooking for friends, who doesn’t love a bit of an after dinner tart?

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*note: the pastry for this tart is a Pate Sable, which needs to be worked with really cold or it’ll be to soft to roll, so make sure you refrigerate the dough for at least an hour. I had mine in the fridge overnight and then let it sit at room temperature for just under 10 mins before using.

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Dark Chocolate and Pear Tarts

makes 3 or 4 small tarts, or 1 medium one

for the pastry:
1 cup flour
2 Tbsp Cocoa powder (unsweetened)
110g butter, softened
100ml icing sugar (about 55 g)
1 egg, beaten

for the filling:
3 or 4 small Asian pears, peeled cored and chopped to 5mm pieces (to make about a cup of fruit)
60 ml cream
1 Tbsp Caster sugar
1 tsp butter

100g good dark chocolate (I used 70%)
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp whiskey (optional)
1 egg yolk
2 egg whites

Make the pastry:
– whisk the flour and cocoa together until well combined

– beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the egg and 1 Tbsp of the flour mix and beat until smooth.

– add the rest of the flour and combine to form a sticky dough. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour

– roll out and line greased and floured tart tins, refrigerate for a few mins

– heat oven to 360˚. Blind bake tarts (using parchment paper and legumes/lentils/etc) for 10 mins

– remove from oven, remove paper and legumes, bake empty tart shells another 7 – 10 mins until pastry is coming away from the sides of the tins and is “singing”.

– cool tart shells to room temperature.

Make the filling:
– chop the chocolate into small pieces. Place in a double boiler with the spices and butter and allow to melt slowly.

– heat the cream and sugar for the pear over a low heat until sugar has dissolved. Add pears and increase heat. Bring to a simmer and cook pears for about 15 – 20 mins, caramelising the pears. remove from heat and allow to cool.

-When choc is melted and smooth, add whiskey and egg yolk and mix well. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

– whip egg whites until stiff. Vigorously stir in a big spoon of the egg white to life the mixture then gently fold in the rest of the egg white in 3 or 4 goes.

– carefully add pear, reserving some for a garnish, and incorporate well, being careful not to flatten the chocolate mousse.

– divide between tart shells, garnish with remaining pear and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

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White Choc Mousse with Red Currant Sour Cherry

Three egg whites and a secret, long kept desire to make white chocolate mousse. I’ve developed a real taste for white chocolate over the last few weeks. I’ve been making white chocolate and macadamia nut muffins and chucking a cup in with the dark chocolate when making choc chip cookies, but somehow an entire dessert of white chocolate seemed far too cloying to be a success. But cut the extreme sweetness with some tart, sour berries and voila! Success! The berry confit I made from the red currants and sour cherries perfectly complements the white chocolate of the mousse. Yum!

White Chocolate Mousse with Red Currant Sour Cherry Confit

for the confit:Sour Berries

(best made a day or so ahead)

1 punnet red currants, destalked
1 punnet small, red sour cherries, pitted
½ cup sugar

– put a saucer in the freezer

– in two separate, large, heavy based pots
bring the berries to the boil with ½ cup of
water each. Simmer until tender, about 10 mins.

– using a potato masher, mash the currants.
Add cherries to currant pot.

– add the sugar and bring to a hard simmer, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens a bit, about 15 mins.

-remove saucer from freezer and put a drop of the conserve on it. When the edges wrinkle when pushed with your finger, the conserve is ready. Bottle in a sterilised jam jar.

for the mousse: (adapted from the Callebaut website, which is the couverture I used for this)

230 – 250 g white chocolate, chopped
80 ml milk
3 large egg whites
200 ml whipping cream

-melt the chocolate in a bain marie

-warm the milk, do not allow to boil

– remove chocolate from stove once melted. Transfer to a bowl and add milk. Mix until smooth.

– whip egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold into chocolate mixture.

– whip cream and gently fold into chocolate mixture.

– divide mousse into two parts. Gently fold about 60 – 80 ml currant and cherry conserve into one half.

– place 1 Tbsp berry conserve into the bottom of each serving glass/bowl. Divide white mousse between bowls. Carefully pour berry mouse into centre of each bowl

– refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Can be made the day ahead, so it’s a great, easy dessert recipe for dinner guests.

 

White chocolate mouse with redcurrant sour cherry conserve

 

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Spicy Mayan Chocolate Mousse

Who doesn’t love a bit of chocolate? I’ve gone, through the years, from gorging myself on sweet, Cadbury’s Milks Chocolate as child at easter, to savouring a small piece of dark, almost black, 88% cocoa under my tongue in a sort of ecstasy. On lazy Sunday afternoons in the Winter, the ever-present Winter sun of the Highveld would stream through our living room windows and we would all sit around, as a family, on the floor or the sofas, reading consecutive bits of the Sunday Paper and nibbling on the 3 or 4 slabs of chocolate my Mom had bought earlier on.  Mint or Topdeck were my nibbles of choice.  I loved to split the white from the dark on the Topdeck to melt each in my mouth separately.

I was really only introduced to the idea of adding chili to chocolate a few years ago in an ice-cream confection in a cosy restaurant in Johannesburg. The idea of adding a spice used traditionally in savoury dishes to a sweet scoop of ice-cream was both foreign and exhilarating to me, and I was hooked straight away. What a combination!

Spicy Mayan Chocolate Mousse

200 g dark chocolate (60 – 70 %)
120 ml heavy cream
4 tsp sugar
6 egg whites
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp cayene pepper
¼ tsp ground cloves

– melt chocolate in a large bain marie

– Heat cream with spices until just boiling, remove from heat

– Add cream to chocolate and mix until mixture thickens and is completely smooth

– Whip egg whites until soft peaks form. Add sugar and continue whipping until stiff, but not dry

– Take about 2 Tbsp egg white and mix into chocolate mix to lighten. Gently fold in the rest of the egg white in 4 batches until incorporated

– Makes 6 – 8 individual portions or one large bowl

– Refrigerate for at least an hour before eating, can be made the day before.

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