Ok. So I'm thumbing through cookbooks , thinking about my daughter, my son, my daughter's partner, and the baby, and thinking about Christmas Eve dinner. We celebrate with silly hats from the Christmas Crackers, and a long present unwrapping, lots of ale and wine and whatever they're drinking these days, usually a lemon and olive oil and rosemary sprigged roasted chicken, and lots of my "fluffy salad" ie, green salad with traditional garlic drenched dressing ( which is perfect, and easy), potatoes, mashed, roasted, we don't care. It isn't a dinner without potatoes. But the dessert. Ah, the dessert. It has to be perfect. Maybe a gingerbread roll, or a fake Buche Noel, as long as whipped cream is involved! And then, then I think, the Lemon Mousse from Le Bocage.
A long time ago, there was a tiny little bistro in Cambridge, Mass. I worked in. It was, truly, a neighborhood bistro, and Julia Child visited quite often. Since I was the day chef, I rarely stuck around for the evening crowd, but once, just once, I did, as Julia walked into the kitchen to talk with the cooks. I wobbled, I stuttered, I collapsed.
I made the mousse, and after I left, Paul (Heroux) made the mousse. Later, I found he had been featured in the Yankee Magazine's cookbook - with the Le Bocage Lemon Mousse proudly featured. My thanks go to that amazing chef that started it all, Sally Scoville, and her five star cooking. Bliss, just bliss.
The lemon mousse is rich, tangy, smooth, and dreamy. You could dress it up, with chocolate thingies, and cookies, and drizzles, but I think it's just perfect as it is. Maybe a little twist of lemon peel on the top, or a mint leaf, but really, it stands alone. It really isn't that hard to make.
First, the fluffy salad dressing:
Green Leaf lettuce
equal parts good olive oil and red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, pressed
Mix up the dressing and toss lettuce at the last minute.
1 packet unflavored gelatin
zest of 2 lemons
juice of 3 lemons
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Combine gelatin, zest, and juice in a noncorrodible sauce pan and heat gently, stirring, until gelatin is dissolved. Beat egg yolks with a half cup sugar until the mixture is thick and pale yellow, then stir in the slightly cooled gelatin mixture. Chill until thick and almost, but not quite, set. Beat egg white withr emaining 3 tablespoons sugar until they form stiff peaks, whip the cream and fold everything together. Spoon into stemmed glasses or ramkins, top with a twist of lemon peel.