What do you do when you’re having a chef round for dinner? If you’re Mid-Century Miss, the answer is: retreat into your retro cooking comfort zone.
Said chef is one of my oldest friends. We’ve known each other since we were teenagers, and she very sweetly put a roof over my head when I first arrived in London, blinking like a mole and asking why it was called the Circle Line if it didn’t actually go in a circle. It wasn’t long after she’d finished culinary school, and I’ll never forget the soul-soaring joy of coming home from work to Beef Wellington. This, I would think as I loaded up my fork with puff pastry and fillet steak, is what every weeknight should be like.
The last time she cooked for me we had fabulous schnitzel with noodles – as soon as I took my first bite, I understood what Julie Andrews was making all the fuss about. So although she’s a kind-hearted soul who’s always full of praise for my efforts, I wanted to make sure I brought my A-Game to the table. And being me, I devoted the majority of my energies to planning the sweet stuff.
Step forward the lemon posset. Served in a trifle glass, topped with piped whipped cream and lemon zest, it wouldn’t look out of place on the dessert trolley in a mid-range 1960s hotel – and that, in my book, is the highest compliment you can pay any foodstuff. Best of all, there are only three ingredients involved, and they’re extraordinarily forgiving in combination. This is a recipe that’s almost impossible to mess up.
Serves two (or four, if you’re using ramekins)
Two 200g tubs of crème fraîche
100g caster sugar
Two lemons (unwaxed)
1. Carefully peel the lemons using a vegetable peeler, then juice them. Check the juice for pips and set aside.
2. Spoon the crème fraîche and sugar into a non-stick saucepan, add the strips of lemon peel, boil gently for five minutes, stirring constantly to stop the bottom burning.
3. Take the pan off the heat, pour in the lemon juice and give everything a good stir. Pass it through a fine sieve into a large measuring jug.
4. Line up your trifle glasses (or ramekins) and pour the posset mixture into them. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least four hours.
5. Serve topped with whipped cream, piped into rosettes, and dusted with lemon zest. Alternatively, caramelised lemon peel finishes things off nicely.
Next time: chocolate torte