I have owned Elizabeth David's books for most of my cooking life but it is only very recently that I have begun to cook from them. For a long time they intimidated me. I had read that David's books were wonderful to read but impossible, or at least hard to cook from. Perhaps that is true of some of her early recipes but I am finding the ones I have tried to be clear, concise and delicious. They are wonderfully free from pretension, unnecessary ingredients, modern fads, and, thank God, metric measurements. They also produce very modest quantities, so despite some rich ingredients there is little excess about Elizabeth David.
These are some of the recipes I have made recently.
Chocolate and almond cake -dense, moist and luscious (and gluten-free)
Hollandaise sauce -exquisite and easy to make
Chicken liver paté - I've been making this one for years. Simplicity itself.
Tarte au Fromage - made last week for supper, so good next time I will make two.
Piedmontese peppers - peppers roasted with olive oil, anchovy fillets and garlic
Pommes Dauphinoise - creamy lusciousness
Chocolate mousse - see below
Two ingredients are required.
One egg per person and one ounce of chocolate per person.
Can you remember all that?
One of my favourite kitchen tasks is separating eggs. I don't faff about with gadgets or even egg shells. I just crack the egg into my hand and let the white slip away between my fingers. I do this over a different bowl from the one I am collecting the whites in just in case a yolk splits. This did happen today so I have a little dish with a cracked egg in the fridge waiting for someone's breakfast tomorrow. You don't want any yolk in your whites because they won't whip. A little white in the yolks though doesn't matter.
The chocolate must be melted slowly and gently in a thick bottomed pan with a tablespoon of water (or coffee or rum). It is then stirred into the beaten egg yolks.
The whites must be whipped until very stiff. Watching the transparent egg white transform into a billowing cloud is another task I greatly enjoy.
Finally fold the whites gently but thoroughly into the chocolate mixture. Pour the mousse into a bowl or individual glasses or ramekins.
Simple and elegant.
I might make a little project of Elizabeth David's recipes. Nothing like the Julie-Julia project, only recipes I like the sound of and with none of the self-indulgent whining (I didn't warm to Julie Powell). So, there may be more simple and elegant dishes making an appearance on The Quince Tree.