Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Traditional British Food, Part 14: Fluff

I've spent the last week making light and airy desserts. It all started with this:
We had a lot of squeezed-out lemons left after all those white ladies. So, I decided to make my own candied lemon peel. I used this Martha Stewart recipe but just got the zest off the rest of the lemon with a vegetable peeler and I skipped step 4 since I'm going to use the peel for baking. The by-product of candied peel-making is the simple syrup in which the candied peels reside. It's chock-full of lemon essential oils. It had to be utilized!

First, I made syllabubs, based on this recipe. According to Fresh From the Past, Charles II, during his frequent walks in St. James's Park, liked to stop for a syllabub and even kept cows in the park to be sure that the treats would be super-fresh.* I thought it was very strange at first for my dessert to taste like the wine from dinner, but I got used to it and the texture of the syllabub is really fun and foamy.

Lemon Syllabub

Serves 4

1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup lemon syrup (see above)
1/4 cup dry white wine

Beat the cream and lemon syrup to soft peaks. Stir in the wine and serve in individual glasses.

The next dessert is really just a deconstructed strawberry fool. I like to float whipped cream on top of things and leave the mixing-up to the individual. I think the only thing that might improve upon this dessert is to add some Cointreau to the berries.

Post-Modern Strawberry Fool

Serves 4

1 cup strawberries, fresh or frozen (thawed, if frozen)
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup lemon syrup (you could substitute granulated sugar and add some lemon juice or zest to the strawberries)

Puree the strawberries and divide the puree into individual glasses. Beat the cream and syrup to stiff peaks and pile on top of the strawberry puree.

In other news, I watched the new Brideshead Revisited and had to wonder, what was the point? It was pretty and all but it took a lot of liberties with the book (it turned the whole thing into a Charles/Julia love story) and I don't think poor Aloysius was even referred to by name in the whole film! I think I'll stick to the 1981 adaptation (which has an excellent cast: Jeremy Irons, John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier, and my favorite Scarlet Pimpernel, Anthony Andrews).

*Sandra Sherman, Fresh From the Past: Recipes and Revelations from Moll Flanders' Kitchen (Lanham: Taylor Trade Publishing, 2004), 337.

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