Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Jubilee food fit for a Queen, or in my case 'Princess Lola' and 'Prince Finn'. Eton Mess
Well, despite my mix of origins, not all English, or indeed British, I would be being a disloyal subject if I didn't broach the subject of the Jubilee in this blog (though I am really quite traitorous in that I am buggering off to France today for a few days, though I am back for Jubilee Tuesday, so I am not beyond reproach totally) so, out of the possibles that one could cite as British food I decided on Eton Mess for several reasons, not least because it is easy, it's quick, and if you are doing one of these street party things, quite simple to upscale for a crowd.
I am not really sure there is a quintessential recipe for Eton Mess, seeing as it is basically meringue, cream and fruit (usually strawberries/raspberries) it's not difficult to figure our how to do it, and if you are doing it for yourself or others you know, you decide on how sweet/crunchy/creamy/fruity you want it to be. Some people mix it up, some people layer it, some people add stuff, so don't think of the recipe below as some kind of panacea, 'cos it ain't. It's just my way of doing things.
I haven't faffed much with the traditional concoction of the recipe, being somewhat of a Luddite when it comes to the old faithful recipes, being that they have stood the test of time because they are great as they are, but I will explain my notion behind doing things.
Firstly, summer fruit in this country can be gorgeous or tasteless. Strawberries taste of nothing sometimes and are in dire need of va va voom, and strawberries straight from the fridge are vile, so ensure your fruit is at room temperature before you start. I am not overly keen on raspberries that can be a bit sour, and for that reason I tend to blitz them with a squeeze of orange juice and some sugar to create a sauce that mingles with the cream, the meringue and the strawberries.
Some people sweeten the cream. I don't. I think there is enough sweetness from meringue and fruit, but if you could add a little icing sugar and vanilla extract to the cream if you want to.
Sometimes life is too short to make your own meringues, particularly when you can buy those natty little mini meringues that are crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside. So I buy them.
Lastly, I layer. Personally I think mixing it all up is a 'mess' too far, and so I like the idea of the fruit being revealed, if you like. But it's a personal thing.
So, here goes...
Serves Lola, Finn, Mum, Dad and two others.
Large punnet of good quality strawberries (about 454g/1lb)
Small punnet of raspberries (227g/ 1/2lb)
A squeeze of orange juice
2 - 3 tbsp caster sugar
600ml double cream
About 10 - 12 mini meringues
Halve and hull the strawberries,
In a mini chopper blitz the raspberries with a squeeze of orange juice and some of the sugar. Once blitzed, taste and add more sugar if necessary. You could add a few strawberries too if you wish.
In a mixer, or similar, whip up the cream. Once it reaches soft to firm peaks, turn off the mixer.
Crumple the meringues into the cream. Mix carefully to combine.
To assemble, put some fruit at the bottom of the glass, top with the cream, add some raspberry sauce, then more fruit, cream, sauce, etc. I top them with the remaining mini meringues.
Really nice. Really.