This recipe from the long-shuttered Snaffles restaurant in Dublin represents something strange and special, a cheap and easy starter that boasts a beguiling flavor far different from the sum of its parts. As we explain in the lyrical, its constituents remained a secret for years, and gourmands and critics alike never tumbled to how the mousse was made. Unfortunately most recipes for the dish do not work. This one, based on a version allegedly tweaked by Simon Hopkinson over a decade ago, does, but only after many bouts of trial and error; English empiricism applied by the American Editor to an Irish original. Eight mysterious starters.
-1 can Campbell’s consommé
-2 envelopes gelatin
-¾ lb cream cheese
-1½ teaspoons curry paste
-1 garlic clove, smashed and pounded to paste
-lemon wedges, cornichon and toast for service
- Gently heat about 3 Tablespoons of the consommé until it just begins to steam; do not boil it.
- Dissolve the gelatin in the warm consommé and let it cool until lukewarm.
- Meanwhile cram everything else into a food processor or blender, then add the lukewarm consommé boosted with gelatin and blast the mixture to satin.
- Spoon the mousse into little ramekins or pretty glasses and chill overnight before serving with the lemon wedges, cornichon and hot toast.
-The Worcestershire is the Editor’s addition; if you use it, use it sparingly. Otherwise you will oversalt the mousse. The original recipe, or at least the one as modified by Hopkinson, salts the garlic, but again, these ingredients share a surfeit of salt so go easy or go without as we do.
-Curry powder is an adequate substitute for the paste, and in fact appeared in the original incarnation of the mousse, but the paste seems to help it set. Depending on the kind of curry you choose, you may want to add a little cayenne.
-We found it extremely difficult to get the texture right. With the amount of gelatin that Hopkins specified the result always was more fluid than mousse so we have doubled his amount of the goo.
-By no means tell friends, family, enemies, freeloaders, assorted hangers-on or anyone else how you made the mousse. Take credit where it is not due and impress them with your ‘skill’ instead.
-And who serves lemon with beef or cheese? It will throw them further off the trail.
-Bottled Guinness pairs perfectly with Snaffles mousse. The revived Foreign Extra Stout is particularly good if you can find some.