Sunday, June 21, 2009

champagne supernova jellies

These tiny fraises des bois are blushing all over the wilder parts of the garden, and in places where they've newly sprung up, their perfume reaches me before I spot them. I'm sure I can detect an infinitesimal scent of pink 'Bazooka Joe' bubble gum in amongst all that heady fruit aroma too, and they taste a bit like their smell.

You need such large quantities to do anything culinary with them that they're best eaten au naturel in my view (little bursts of 1970's summer disco on your tongue) or added to salads (with cucumber and feta cheese) or fromage frais. I like to stick bunches of them in a jam jar, downy foliage and fruit drooping on long slender stalks, to gaze at like an exotic plant.

A new crop has appeared along the bank of the stream below the sitting-room window where I've been doing a bit of tidying-up - restoring parts of the original stone wall and trying to eradicate the last of the dreaded invasive Japanese knotweed. So before Poire arrives tomorrow with his mini-digger to level the ground (and the Jk) I picked all the fruit and made champagne jellies.

I don't think the French do "jelly" (as in "jelly and ice cream"). Our friend and ex-neighbour, M. Souffleur De Verre, who lived in England for three years, loved it but said he couldn't get it in France - so I became his jelly mule. Every time I went back to Scotland I'd return with a suitcase full of Rowntree's jelly. I tried it out on Poire this evening (the jelly) and as he polished off the last perfect photo opportunity he stared at me in wonderment and said, "What was that? I've never had anything like that before."

Champagne jellies with wild strawberries

Serves 6
handful of wild strawberries (or small garden variety), saving 6 for decoration
8 sheets leaf gelatine, plus cold water to cover
1 x 750ml/1¼ pint pink champagne or sparkling rosé wine
juice of 1 lemon
100g/3½oz caster sugar
icing sugar to dust

1. Divide the de-stalked strawberries between glasses.

2. Place the gelatine sheets in a bowl and cover with cold water.

3. Put 150ml/5fl oz of the champagne/wine in a pan with the lemon juice and sugar and heat gently, until the sugar dissolves.

4. Remove the gelatine from the cold water and add to the pan, whisking until dissolved. Pass the mixture through a sieve into a bowl and allow to cool slightly.

5. Add the remaining champagne and leave until the jelly is cold and just on the point of setting then pour gently into the glasses.

6. When the jellies have cooled, place in the fridge until completely set. To serve, dust the remaining 6 strawberries with icing sugar and put one on top of each jelly.

♫ Cook along to: Miles Davis Summertime


Vodka Mom said...

That looks amazing!! I am so hungry for strawberries now! And a trip to the French Alps???

I wish.......

Jen said...

That sounds wonderful!!!