Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Mousse Day.

I think we decided yesterday that a soufflé can take many forms, and in occasional interpretations, does not necessarily contain egg whites. So – what is the difference between a cold soufflé and a mousse?

Not so much, as it turns out. ‘Mousse’ has two meanings of interest to us on this blog (I leave the cosmetic applications of the word to others more interested and better qualified than myself.)
According to my indispensible cyber-companion, The Oxford English Dictionary, the word is derived from the French (no suprise there) and it referred initially to ‘the aggregation of tiny bubbles which forms on the surface of a glass of sparkling wine, champagne, etc. More generally: the bubbles of any such wine,’ and the first citation in English is given in 1863. The second usage refers to ‘a sweet or savoury dish having a light, airy, or frothy texture, freq. made from a purée or other base, stiffened with whipped cream, gelatin, or egg whites, etc., and usually served chilled’, and the first reference quoted is from a New York newspaper in 1885.

So, it seems then that the mousse came later from France than the soufflé, but is pretty similar to the chilled version of the latter.

The second citation given in the OED is from the English newspaper, the Daily News of October 22, 1899. I have that exact recipe for you today. We would use gelatine today instead of isinglass, and newspaper cookery columnists have made progress in the clarity of recipe-writing, but otherwise it sounds delicious.

“While strawberries are still with us, the following Mousse should be tried: Crush a pound of ripe berries through a sieve to obtain all the juice and the finer part of the pulp; mix with this half a pound of fine sugar, the juice of a fresh lemon, and a quarter of an ounce of isinglass. Put into a saucepan and stir over the fire until both the sugar and isinglass are dissolved, then put into a basin and set aside. When cold stir in the whites of two eggs and the contents of a sixpenny pot of thick cream, both beaten together unto a stiff froth; mix these in with the syrup with a light lifting motion, so as not to quite lose the distinction of red and white, then pour all into a wetted mould and set on ice for two or three hours.
A peach or apricot Mousse would be made very similarly, using the pulp of a dozen peaches or apricots, only with these it would be better to allow the syrup to cool in the mould, and on ice, and when it has thickened, to fold in the cream, without stirring either the one or the other. These Mousses should turn out quite solid, but will never be hard on account of the cream.”

Quotation for the Day.

There are only two questions to ask about food. Is it good? And is it authentic? We are open [to] new ideas, but not if it means destroying our history. And food is history
Giuliano Bugialli, NY Times 9 May 84

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