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Chocolate mousse, like the equally ubiquitous apple pie and crème caramel is one of those simple recipes that rely totally on the quality of the basic ingredients. As such therefore, it is very well suited to showcasing the best and freshest of organic produce, in this recipe, the nutrient-packed raw egg.



As we raise our own organic poultry, this is a very popular dessert with us and as I make large batches at a time, I've also found that freezing this dessert makes a wonderful and quick alternative to our usual custard-based ice creams.

The Stuff of Legends
Mousse au chocolat, the iconic French dessert, was created by Charles Fazi, Swiss confectioner to the court of Louis XVI. In 1755 M. Fazi was given the onerous task of devising an exciting and original dessert for the visit of foreign ambassadors. Legend has it that the chef spent three days and nights thinking up a recipe and this simple but sumptuous sweet was such a success that Louis rewarded him with a chateau. However, it was in the following century that Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec made the dessert incredibly fashionable with his variation; mayonnaise au chocolat. The artist was so often associated with chocolate mousse that in many culinary histories he is credited with its creation.

 The Ingredients 
....are so simple:

150g or 5oz of plain/dark chocolate, of at least 70% cacao.

(I use chocolate buttons which I can buy from a bulk dispenser at my local organic shop.)

4 eggs, separated

2 tablespoons of raw milk or water




Method
Melt the chocolate in or over a bain marie and in the meantime go and collect the eggs!


Add the milk or water to the melted chocolate and mix well to a smooth paste.

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites to a stiff froth.

Add the egg yolks to the melted chocolate. If you whisk the eggs in this order, then you can use the same beater without having to wash it!


Pull the whites over to one side of the bowl and then add the chocolate mixture. By slowly incorporating a little of the white into the latter,  you will find it easier to add the rest while still retaining enough air within the whites to create the desired 'fluffy' effect.



Chill to allow the mixture to set and serve in individual elegant glasses to do justice to your dessert. I decorate mine with chocolate buttons and seasonal flowers.


If you can restrain yourself from eating the lot then leave the rest to freeze into a delicious chocolate mousse ice cream.


 Alternative Recipe
Instead of the milk or water add one or two ripe bananas to the chocolate and egg yolks. Some of the pictures above show the banana version, which is equally as delicious and which I also freeze to make an ice cream!



If you enjoyed this recipe then please feel free to comment and share it with your friends.

Hope to see you here again for another recipe from an old farmhouse in Normandie,

All the very best,
Sue

Additional Images
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) standing beside his paintings (detail from a colourised photograph taken by Maurice Guibert 1895), thanks to the Pinterest board of Catherine Coffee.

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In my previous article on making rose hip syrup I mentioned that I freeze it in ice cubes for making cocktails and other beverages. Here are a couple of recipes I find very refreshing and redolent of Summer sunshine in the Winter months. The link to how to make rose hip syrup and also a break down of the medicinal and nutritional values of this exceptional little fruit can be found at the end of this article.

ROSE HIP KIR
Kir is a very popular apéritif drink, traditionally made by pouring white wine or champagne over a fruit liqueur, this is usually black currant. In this part of Normandie we use cider, which is readily available as the whole region (including our own garden) is covered with traditional cider apple orchards.


To make rose hip kefir, place a little rose hip syrup (around ½ to 1" or 1 to 2cm) in the bottom of a tall cocktail glass or similar and fill with chilled cider.

ROSE HIP KEFIR
We add our rose hip syrup in the form of a frozen ice cube to individual glasses of water kefir. Rose hip syrup with this amount of sugar actually freezes very well and can also be firstly frozen in a block and then cut into cubes as the sugar content keeps it easy to slice.




Our kefir recipe is as follows:
3 litres (3 quarts) of Spring water
4 dried apricots or dried figs
6 tablespoons of raw cane sugar/rapadura/sucanat
½ a lemon
2 tablespoons of water kefir grains




 ROSE HIP TEA
Rose hips make a very invigorating tea. Here I'm using fresh ones as they are in season but mostly I dry them and then have a good stock for Winter. Rose hips can be used on their own or they can combine well with other fruit or flowers.



To make rose hip tea add:
2 Fresh or Dried Rose Hips per person and 2 for the tea pot.
If using fresh I would mash them up a little in the tea pot and then put them through a tea strainer, that way you will get a full bodied brew.



Another great medicinal and one which compliments rose hips well is Hibiscus which has some of the same anti-inflammatory properties of rose hips as well as other virtues of its own.  Hibiscus is a flower I buy dried specifically to make tea and also to use as a superb natural colour for cakes, icing, frosting and glazes. You can  get a ready-made mixture of Rose Hip and Hibiscus Tea Bags too.

With these teas and for personal taste you may need to use honey or sugar as a sweetener. I find that Hibiscus, which has a rich ruby colour, has a more pungent taste than the rose hip. It does however very much depend on how ripe the rose hips were when they were picked, In our garden, in the case of rosa rugosa I tend to pick them early as I am competing with the birds both my own and the wild garden ones who use these large fruits as a great source of vitamins and minerals in the Winter months!

ROSE HIP, HIBISCUS & KEFIR SUPPLIES

If you enjoyed this recipe then please feel free to comment and share it with your friends. 

Hope to see you here again for another recipe from an old farmhouse in Normandie,

All the best,
Sue

RELATED ARTICLES
Rose Hip Syrup - Good health from the forest garden.
I make rose hip syrup every year and as you can see I have a large amount of the raw material. The rosa rugosa roses in my garden are the easiest to use. I have to be quick though because these, large and luscious fruits...read more

©  Sue Cross 2018
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I make rose hip syrup every year and as you can see I have a large amount of the raw material. The rosa rugosa roses in my garden are the easiest to use. I have to be quick though because these, large and luscious fruits are the first to be taken by the birds. I also use rosa canina the beautiful wild hedgerow rose, which I also cultivate and the prolific rosa filipes 'Kiftsgate' (pictured below), which has self-seeded in various forms all over the garden. This latter has small but delicious little fruits, which are so numerous that I am left with plenty of syrup material, even after the wild birds and my own hens have made inroads into them.



This year however, my main ingredient has been the largish fruits of the beautiful sweet briar which has draped itself over our greenhouse. Meg Merrilies, which is one of the first roses I ever planted here, has lived up to her name. Meg Merrilies aka Jean Gordon, was a famous seeress and a gypsy queen who lived in the Cheviot Hills, a mountain range which crosses the English Scottish borders. I moved her several times after I planted her as she never seemed to do well but since she can now scramble all over the greenhouse and up the pear tree she is happy and blooms and fruits, in profusion.

Rose hips used to be one of the prime sources of Vitamin C during the World Wars when the importation of citrus fruits was restricted. We keep a stock in the freezer, in case of Winter colds. Rose hips have been  used in medicine for over two millennia. The Romans had over 30 conditions which they treated with these fruits and the use of rose hips is a well-known treatment in the present day for various conditions including, anti-inflammatory therapy for osteoarthritis.

Amongst their virtues, rose hips have high levels of Vitamin C and also contain minerals such as calcium and manganese. They are also rich in:
  • antioxidant flavenoids, such as tiliroside
  • carotenoid pigments, such as lycopene
  • plant sterols, 
  • tocotrienols 
  • anthocyanins
  • catechins  plus other polyphenolics or pytochemicals which protect the body against free radical damage and thus aid in the prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Rose hips also contain 5% pectin and are a traditional diuretic.

We use the syrup in many dishes from ice cream and pancakes to cocktails and cakes. Here's my basic recipe, using less sugar than usual because firstly I think it tastes better and secondly, I freeze it rather than bottle it.

INGREDIENTS (with US product links) (UK links at bottom of page)

1¼ cups (250g) of Fresh rose hips
1 Cinnamon stick
1 Star Anise
1 Pint (500ml) of water
Approx ½ cup (100g) Raw cane sugar aka rapadura/sucanat or Coconut blossom sugar

METHOD
Put all the ingredients except for the sugar into a pan.

Crush the rose hips with a fork or potato masher. The less ripe ones will crush better when cooked but the reason for doing this is so that the rose hips do not come in contact with the air when they are broken open because otherwise they will lose almost all their Vitamin C content.



Simmer, without a lid for 20 minutes.



Press gently through a fine sieve.

Add the same amount of sugar as liquid (this usually works out around 4oz or 100g) but if you want a thinner syrup add less sugar.

Stir in sugar until it dissolves.

Bring to the boil and leave to cook without stirring until syrup forms in around 5 to 10 minutes.

Leave to cool and if you don't use it all, then freeze it. It freezes really well and can be frozen in an ice cube tray for ease of adding to drinks.




If you enjoyed this recipe then please feel free to comment and share it with your friends. 

Hope to see you here again for another recipe from an old farmhouse in Normandie,

All the best,
Sue
RELATED ARTICLES
Rose Hip Syrup Part Two - Drink Recipes
In my previous article on making rose hip syrup I mentioned that I freeze it in ice cubes for making cocktails and other beverages. Here are a couple of recipes I find very refreshing, chock full of phytonutrients and redolent of Summer sunshine in the Winter months....read more

©  Sue Cross 2018
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Samhain, the Celtic festival celebrating the end of Summer, in its simplest definition, involves eating, drinking, lighting bonfires and as the legend goes, making and using cakes for divination and to appease the spirits of the Harvest. From this evolved the three day celebration comprising; All Hallows' Eve (or Halloween), All Hallows' (or All Saints' Day) and finally All Souls'. 



 Sin-Eating and Soul-CakingIn going out 'Souling', the children and adults of a village would visit the houses of the wealthiest families begging for soul cakes and in return offer to pray for the souls of departed relatives. They carried baskets in which to collect their booty and often wore masks and disguises. As no doubt you will have guessed, this  tradition, which dates back at least to the Middle Ages, has been cited by various sources as the root of 'Trick or Treat'.


The idea of symbolically eating someone's sins, particularly those who had died without confession and thereby allowing them access to the afterlife was an actual profession practiced right up until the beginning of the twentieth century. The last 'Sin-Eater', Richard Munslow died in 1906 and had lived near to where I was born in the county of Shropshire. Mr Munslow was a gentleman farmer and therefore somewhat unusual in following what was considered the rather gruesome career of eating buns around an open coffin and a job judged suitable only for beggars and those in dire poverty.

So on All Souls' Day a kind of traditional and non-professional form of Sin-Eating was practiced, it was called 'Soul-caking'. There is a rhyme that goes with it, which we as children used to sing in school with neither any idea of its roots, nor any remuneration in cake!

Cake, Bread and Biscuits
As families made their own cakes at home, there were no set rules for soul cake recipes, which often varied from region to region or even town to town. In Whitby (of Dracula fame), the Soul Cake recipe was for a bread mixture called 'Soul Mass Loaves' rather than the more usual cake or biscuit. In other towns, Hereford for example, oatmeal was used rather than wheat flour and often the raising agent changed too, with yeast being chosen over baking powder and white or cider apple vinegar. So here's my version.

TEMPERATUREPreheat the oven to 425°F (220°C)
RECIPE
Makes 12-14 large Soul Cakes
1½ cups (230g) of All Purpose aka Plain Flour
1 pinch Celtic Sea Salt
3 tablespoons (40g) Sugar
3 tablespoons (40g) Butter
1 Egg made up to just under ½ cup (130ml) with Milk
1 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda aka Baking Powder
1 teaspoon (UK) Mixed Spice or (US) Pumpkin Spice
A little extra flour for dusting the board and rolling pin
Cookie cutters
Optional decoration: 12 blackberries or raisins ( a little cream to stick them on)

METHODEither by hand or in a food processor add the sifted flour, raising agent, salt and stir in the sugar.




















Add the diced butter and rub the ingredients together with fingertips until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.


 




Stir in spice.
Beat the egg with the milk until mixed and slowly (if using one) pour into processor, whilst the machine is running. If mixing by hand use a round-ended knife.  Turn off the machine as soon as the mixture forms into a soft ball of dough. If it looks too dry add a little more milk but the dough should be soft not sticky.




Turn dough out onto a floured board and with a floured rolling pin roll it out to between ¼ and ½ an inch thickness.




Dip the cookie cutter in flour and cut out the cakes.

Using a sharp knife make a sign of a cross on the top of each cake - traditionally this signifies its purpose as alms given in return for prayers for the dead.

At the end of each arm of the cross I made a slight indentation with a chopstick or wooden spoon handle.



Place on a buttered tray or baking sheet and cook in the middle of the oven for 12-15 minutes.





Place on a cooling rack. Decorate.

   SERVING SUGGESTIONS
These cakes were given as alms, so not actually luxurious but nevertheless rather delicate and tasty. If you want to make them more so then I tried splitting them in two filling them with cream and blackberries, these were sumptuous and rather like scones. I also made another batch split them and filled them with Parma ham, just lightly fried. We ate these for breakfast and they were very, very good!




If you enjoyed this recipe then please feel free to comment and share it with your friends. 

Hope to see you here again for another recipe from an old farmhouse in Normandie,

All the best,
Sue

Additional Images Thanks to:
The British Library - Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts for:
'Funeral' Leaves from a Book of Hours, containing text for Matins in the Office of the Dead Italy, N. (Bologna); c. 1390 - c. 1400
'Pouvrete' (Poverty) - Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun, Roman de la Rose Netherlands, S. (Bruges); c. 1490-c. 1500
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