From a recipe by Alfio Fascendini in Italy’s Great Chefs and Their Secrets, Academia Barilla, White Star Publishers, 2009.
This recipe book was produced in collaboration with the Academia Barilla that has as its purpose the preservation of and promotion of Italian cuisine. The large book, over large and heavy for easy use, presents thirty chefs, selected by the Academia, who discuss the cuisine of their particular region in Italy and the characteristics of the food from that region. They also present a selection of their recipes from the region.
I chose to try this recipe though it was not a vegetarian one. It uses lard in the mousse. I decided to substitute parsnip for the lard that, though it may seem an odd choice, seemed to my mind that it might make a possible solution—even though it strays from its Italian source.
I chopped two medium-sized leeks and put them on to stew in a little water. I also cut up a parsnip and put it on to boil in another saucepan.
I now got to work on the pastry. I made it with 250g plain flour, 60g butter, a pinch of salt and one egg and a yolk (saving the white for the mousse). Once the pastry was mixed and kneaded it was put in the refrigerator for an hour.
The leeks now ready I drained off the liquid and let them cool. The parsnip also ready I drained it and mashed it. I beat the egg white until stiff. I beat half a cup of cream until it had firmed a little. I them folded the egg white into the cream and then mixed in the cooled mashed parsnip and put the mousse in the refrigerator until I was ready to use it.
A sauce was made by placing ½ cup water, a little milk and a dessertspoon honey into a saucepan. When they came to the boil 2 slices of rye bread, broken into pieces were placed in the saucepan and stirred around. The mixture was pressed through a sieve and the sauce was ready.
The oven was now turned on to heat up to 220ºC. I took the pastry out of the refrigerator and rolled it out thinly. It was fitted inside four greased ramekins. Some leek was placed in the bottom of each case. Now 2 eggs were beaten with a little cream, salt and pepper and poured in over the leek. These were placed in the oven for 15 minutes, then the oven was turned down to 180ºC for another 5 minutes cooking.
The timbales were carefully taken out of the ramekins and the mousse piped on the top. Some fried leek pieces were sprinkled over the top and sauce poured around.
I was pleased with my substitution of parsnip for I think it worked well. There was a hint of sweetness throughout the dish: the leek, the parsnip and the honey in the sauce. They combined well with the savoury elements of the dish. It was a pleasant first course. It made me look forward to further cooking from this weighty tome.
Ease of cooking: ✔✔