British asparagus season is now in full swing and for the next two months, I’ll be taking full advantage of this utterly delicious ingredient!
This light, fresh asparagus mousse makes a very pretty first course. Serve with shaved asparagus, spinach and mint or some lightly steamed asparagus stems.
Serves 8 – For this recipe, you will need 8 x 125ml dariole moulds, ramekins or similar
For the mousse
olive oil, for greasing
300g Wye Valley asparagus (after removing woody ends) plus another 4 stems for the salad
6 gelatin leaves
150ml chicken stock
200g crème fraiche
50g baby spinach, plus a few extra leaves for the salad
a few gratings of nutmeg
2 egg whites
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the salad and garnish
a few mint leaves
extra virgin olive oil
½ lemon, juice only
Edible flowers for garnishing
8 soft boiled quail’s eggs for garnishing
- Grease the insides of the dariole moulds with a tiny bit of olive oil. Base-line each of the moulds with a small disc of greaseproof paper or baking parchment. Set aside.
- Steam the 300g asparagus for 3-4 minutes until tender. Drain and refresh in cold water. Drain again and set aside.
- Soak the gelatin leaves in a bowl of cold water until soft.
- Heat the chicken stock to simmering point in a small saucepan and remove from the heat. Squeeze the water out of the gelatin leaves and add them to the stock, stirring until they have completely dissolved.
- Place the steamed asparagus, the stock and the spinach leaves in a liquidiser and process until smooth. (If you do not have a liquidiser, use a blender then pass the mixture through a sieve with the back of a ladle).
- Transfer to a metal bowl. Stir the crème fraiche through the mixture then add some gratings of nutmeg. Season to taste. Transfer to the fridge for 20 minutes or place the bowl in a sink of ice cold water for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
- In a bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Using a metal spoon, stir a spoonful of whisked egg whites into the cold asparagus mixture then gently fold in the remainder of the whites. Divide the mixture between the 8 dariole moulds and transfer to the fridge to set (2 hours+)
- Once set, run the blade of a knife around the inside of each dariole mould, invert onto a plate and give a firm shake to release the mousse. Carefully remove the parchment disc.
- Using a vegetable peeler (or sharp knife), shave the remaining raw asparagus stems into long, thin ribbons. Transfer to a bowl with a few baby spinach leaves and some torn mint leaves. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice then stir to coat. Season to taste.
- Place some of the salad on each plate beside the mousse. Garnish with mint, edible flowers and soft boiled quails eggs.
For edible flowers, I highly recommend http://maddocksfarmorganics.co.uk – they produce a fantastic range of fresh, organic edible flowers, which can be sent out by overnight courier.
For more information about British asparagus and some great recipe ideas, go to http://www.british-asparagus.co.uk