GETTING groceries at the moment feels like Supermarket Sweep: a dash to find what’s available, then working out back at home what to cook. The asparagus season is short; if you can find some, try this Asparagus mousse. It’s really just a sieved, creamy purée set with gelatine.
60g (2 oz) butter
1 leek, sliced
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 clove garlic, bruised
450g (1 lb) asparagus
150ml (5 fl. oz) light stock
200ml (7 fl. oz) whole milk
300ml (10 fl. oz) whipping cream
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
60g (2 oz) rocket
gelatine to set 1 litre (2 pt)
zest and juice of ½ a lemon
In a medium pan, melt the butter with a little oil over a low heat, and then wilt, without browning, the leeks. Add the celery and garlic, and continue to stew until soft but not browning. Snap the woody ends of the asparagus and discard, chop the stalks, and put these and about half the heads into the pan, reserving the other heads for later. Now add the stock and increase the heat so that everything simmers and reduces; this should take about 15 minutes.
Next, add the milk and cream, combining well and simmering for a further ten minutes to cook and reduce more. Season, add the nutmeg and rocket, then whizz up with a stick blender or in a liquidiser. Pass through a sieve into a large bowl to give a smooth purée.
Prepare the gelatine, either soaking about 8 leaves or mixing the powder with a little liquid, then whisking into the purée. Pour into ramekins or a glass bowl, cover with clingfilm, and set in the fridge for 12 hours. (Ramekins take less time.) Before serving, flash-fry the remaining asparagus spears in oil, stir in the lemon zest and juice, season, and place on top of the mousse.
Trying to make Strawberry cream pots with egg yolks, fresh fruits, and lovely cream has proved a challenge. It should be as easy as warming a large pot of cream, stirring in 5 egg yolks, a blended and sieved punnet of strawberries, and baking in a bain-marie on low for 90 minutes.
But this is lockdown living, and there’s no guarantee on ingredients, like wartime rationing. So, instead, take 850ml (1½ pt) of the best full-cream milk you can find, mix 5 tablespoons of custard powder with a little of it into a smooth paste, then combine all in a pan on the hob with 3 tablespoons of sugar, heat, and bring to the boil until thick.
At this point, you could add a punnet of chopped strawberries (washed and hulled). Otherwise, stir in 3 tablespoons of strawberry jam with 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence, and combine. Pour into ramekins to cool a little, then into the fridge to chill. Dust with icing sugar, then serve garnished with mint leaves and a shortcake biscuit. Think of VE Day!