with Thyme and Mint Syrup
Hello again, I apologise for the break in posts! I have been away on holiday, down to Puglia in the heel of Italy, also visiting the stunning Sassi of Matera as we were so close. That made two Unesco World Heritage sights in one trip, as we also visited the truly (sorry!!) amazing Alberobello, below:
It is very much worth a visit to see this small town of hundreds of fully lived-in Trulli cone houses. Sadly, parts of it are already badly polluted by tourist tat but there are large areas of quiet and so far unspoilt Trulli-lined streets.
On getting back it was right back into classes. And I have so much catching up to do besides.
So here is a straightforward recipe for a simple to make and totally luscious sweet, a very light and refreshing Lemon Mousse, perfect at the end of fish meals. As I say in the quote that the multi-talented artist Verena Baumann incorporated into her drawing below:
It is not traditional but a recipe by the Michelin-starred Chef Stefano Cavallini, who hails from Romagna, from his beautiful book Essential Cooking. It is along the lines of a Panna Cotta but it it is less sweet and has a softer and more airy texture. Stefano Cavallini gave up his Chef role to open a his Sapori di Stefano deli in south London, which is probably an easier life for him, but seems a real shame to me.
The recipe follows. It is pretty much the original with just a one slight change in that I omit the Cointreau in the syrup. Sometimes I use only mint for the syrup as fresh thyme is not that easy to get in Bologna. I did use a pinch of dried thyme for the one made on the early June cooking class, but strained it out of the final syrup. Besides these minor changes, I just expanded a little and explained things like how to test the syrup for consistency, to help out less experienced cooks.
Mousse di Limone con Salsa al Timo
Lemon Mousse with Thyme Syrup
For 4 people you will needFor the Mousse
For the Syrup
40g natural unsweetened yoghurt
the zest of a large organic lemon
75 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
200 ml cream ( for whipping)
3g leaf gelatine
This is how you make the Mousse:
the juice of 1 lemon
3 mint leaves plus optional extra to garnish
4 sprigs fresh thyme
optional pink grapefruit, orange and lime segments to garnish
In a bowl mix the yoghurt and the sugar. Add the lemon zest and stir gently to blend.
Place the lemon juice in a small deep bowl which is to be placed in a pan of simmering water in the next step.
Cut up the gelatine leaves roughly using scissors and add to the lemon juice. Set the bowl in or over a pan of barely simmering water and stir until the gelatine has completely dissolved. Fold the gelatine/lemon mix carefully into the yoghurt.
Whisk the cream until thick but not too stiff. Fold gently into the yoghurt mixture making sure it is thoroughly blended.
Divided the mousse between 4 ramekins or throw away alu foil moulds lined with plastic kitchen film to make turning out easier, even if a little less pretty. Set in the fridge to chill until set, about 2 hours, though it depends on the temperature of your fridge.
This is how you make the Syrup:
NB This makes a whole lot more syrup than you will need, you can store the extra in the fridge for future use
Boil the sugar in 300ml water until the sugar has dissolved, then leave to reduce at a gentle simmer while you strip the leaves from the thyme sprigs and shred the mint leaves.
Test the syrup for consistency by dropping a little on a cold saucer which you had previously placed in the freezer. If the syrup is still watery, simmer on longer, if it sets too hard then dilute with water and test again.
When you are happy with the consistency, take the syrup off the heat and transfer to a jug.
Immediately add the thyme and mint leaves, then add the lemon juice, stir and leave to cool. A lot of the charm of this dessert lies in the freshness if the syrup and it is important not to cook the herbs and lemon juice so they retain all their vivid lively freshness.
This is how you serve:
When the lemon mousses have set and you are ready to serve, loosen all round the edge of each one with a very thin bladed knife, and invert the mousses onto individual serving plates.
Lift off the mould and carefully peel away the plastic film.
Spoon the thyme syrup on and around the mousses and garnish with strips of fresh or caramelised citrus zest and/or a sprig of fresh mint and/ or pink grapefruit, lime and orange supremes according to your whim and the time you have available.
If you have never made citrus supremes (also called fillets), this video shows you the technique, though personally I am more comfortable with a small knife for the second part of the process. You need both a super sharp knife and fresh firm fruit for the technique to work.