Strawberry & Lavender Mousse

mousseWhen I visited Le Touquet this past April, we ate at a lovely restaurant called À Table. It was our second visit to the restaurant. The first time was two years ago, also during the month of April. We had such a positive experience that first time, that we decided to book a table for lunch on our last day there. Luckily, it did not disappoint, as did a few other restaurants we returned to (here’s a hint: stay away from Le Matisse and Le Restaurant du Marché).
Though À Table is small (my chair was literally touching that of the person behind me), it serves gorgeous food and is friendly and welcoming.
My main course that last day was certainly memorable. I was served a tender pork loin with a velvety lavender sauce. Who would’ve thought this would be such an exceptionally beautiful combination! After that wonderful meal, I was reminded about how much I love lavender. In my garden, bath and pillow, but also in my food. In fact, there are three lavender recipes on this blog that can attest to that! Ever tried lavender in jam or in baked treats? Well here’s your chance! The one thing you have to remember is that you must use edible lavender. For those in the Netherlands, I got a bag at Dille & Kamille (not sponsored), but you can also try health food shops or organic supermarkets.
I recreated the pork loin recipe one Saturday evening and it was quite a success. However, I did not write down the recipe. Stay tuned!
In the meantme, here is a lavender creation all ready for you to try your hand at. This strawberry and lavender mousse is an elegant, summery dessert that can be made in advance. In other words, it’s the perfect way to end any dinner party in the months ahead! Enjoy!

Strawberry & Lavender Mousse
Serves 4-6 (depending on the size cups you use)

  • 300g strawberries, plus some extra as garnish
  • 1 1/2 tsps dried edible lavender
  • 4 tbsps sugar
  • 5 sheets of gelatin
  • 250g mascarpone
  • 200ml single cream

Place the strawberries, lavender and sugar in a blender and blitz into a smooth sauce. Pour into a small saucepan and heat while stirring for approximately 5 minutes. In the meantime, soak the gelatin sheets in cold water for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, squeeze out the gelatin sheets and add them into the hot sauce one by one stirring well after each. Allow the mixture to cool. Whip the mascarpone and cream until the mixture holds its shape. Carefully fold in the strawberry sauce in three batches. Do not stir too hard or whisk! Divide the mousse over 4 or 6 cups and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours. When ready to serve, garnish with fresh strawberries and perhaps a sprig of mint.
strawberries

 

Paella-Style Cauliflower

cauliflowerThere’s nothing I will not eat (as long as it’s food, of course). I have a healthy appetite and an adventurous palate. One of my favorite things growing up was my mother’s tripe soup. The whole house reeked when she made it, but the taste was sublime. I would greedily slurp up a bowl and ask for seconds without hesitation. One time, when I was about eight or nine, I invited a friend over while my mother was making the soup. Either she was very polite or there was something wrong with her sense of smell because she didn’t so much as wince disapprovingly. In fact, when my mother offered her a bowl, she nodded her head in agreement and we both slurped together. And asked for seconds together.
I suppose it’s much like French andouillette, a sausage made from pig intestines (aka ‘chitterlings’). You either love it (if you can get past the smell)… or loathe it.
One of the things I was never too fond of, however, was caulifower. No matter how I prepared the curdy-looking white vegetable, it tasted insipidly unpleasant. Like hospital food. No amount of salt would make it better.
Until I put on my hipster hat and learned to use it as a replacement for potatoes, rice and other types of refined carbs, that is. The first time I tried it instead of mashed potatoes, I was sold. Yesterday I whipped up a batch paella-style (sans seafood and meat) and it was delicious. To think that you can wolf this down in large quantities without ever having to experience an ounce of guilt. After all, it’s just vegetables! I will be adding some shrimp the next time, though.
Here’s the recipe:

Paella-Style Cauliflower
Serves 4

  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 600g cauliflower, trimmed into florets and blitzed in a food processor
  • 2 tsps turmeric
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika powder
  • sea salt and freshly-cracked pepper
  • 150g green peas
  • 2 roasted sweet peppers (from a jar), chopped
  • squeeze of lemon
  • optional: shrimp, mussels, cooked chicken

Heat the olive oil in a large casserole. Add the cauliflower and cook for a minute before stirring in the turmeric, smoked paprika and salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the peas and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Stir in the red peppers shortly before the end of the cooking time and squeeze in a bit of lemon. If you want you can add shrimp, mussels or cooked chicken toward the end of the cooking time. A scattering of flat-leaf parsley is also lovely, though I didn’t have any on hand.

Strawberry Syrup

IMG_0216The French (and Dutch, for that matter) love their flavored syrups. Mixed with water or ‘limonade’ (French lemonade, similar to Sprite or 7up), they make a very refreshing drink which is especially popular with children. This strawberry syrup is not only great in a diabolo fraise, one of my daughter’s favorite drinks, but you can also pour a little over yogurt or ice cream. Sometimes I even freeze the syrup in ice cubes and add a few to a glass of sparkling water. Feel free to try the recipe with other fruits.

Makes: 600ml  fruit syrup

  • 3 ½ cups strawberries, hulled
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cupl water

Roughly chop the strawberries, put them with the sugar and water in a pan and bring to the boil. Stir well, reduce heat to a simmer and gently cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow the mixture to cool in the pan. Strain into a bowl, making sure to squeeze as much syrup out of the fruit as possible. Using a funnel, transfer to a glass bottle. Refrigerate before serving. To serve, mix 1 part syrup with 4 parts water.

1 2 3 4 81