I can only describe this dessert as a lemon cloud. Make a batch of my lemon curd and gently fold it through whipped aquafaba until you have a pale, impossibly light dessert with bright lemon flavor. Spoon it into dessert bowls and you have a wonderful lemon mousse or Citron Fromage as my mother called it. Sometimes I scoop it into dessert bowls and pop them in the freezer before dinner. After dinner you will have a luscious lemony semifreddo to offer your guests.
When we moved to the dilapidated Victorian house we now call home, an expert arborist told me I should cut down all the trees in my yard save for one Sugar Maple. Like the Red Queen in Alice he ordered Off with their their heads! I demurred. A big mistake, he told me I was making a big mistake. You’ll never have a garden, he told me, too much shade.
Some are blinded by the sun others by the shade. That first year I stared longingly at the garden out my window, well it was a garden in my eyes only, to the rest of the world it appeared a graveled over parking lot housing 8 cars, a tractor, and a snow plow. We set ourselves to restoring the house we had bought. The Electric company refused to turn the electricity on because the wiring was so old none of them had ever seen its like. We tore out every mold eaten wall and water stained ceiling. Standing at the window, knee deep in crumbled plaster, I would stare into the yard cataloging the depths of shade: morning light hit in wide skating sheets through the center area, pillars of light pooled under the sugar maple at midday and the back garden was dappled like a cheetah in late afternoon.
In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.
Hostas seemed to be the resounding answer by those whose opinions I never asked. Everyone told me: You’ll never be able to grow your roses here.
My dad was the one who taught me a more important lesson.
Hanne, he would say, people say I have a green thumb, but there is no such thing as a green thumb. I pay attention that is what I do. I notice what works and what doesn’t.
That man could take an orchid plant that hadn’t bloomed in 10 years and have it bursting with buds within a month. People would bring him their worn out orchids and leave them swaddled on his door step like abandoned babies.
I spent that year raking up the thick layer of gravel that coated the yard and while I raked I payed attention, to the slopes of the garden, where rain fell and where it pooled, where fingers of sunlight stroked the ground.
Here is how I used to put myself to sleep at night. In my mind’s eye I would plant the garden, shrubs, vines and perrenials. I would switch through about five years of growth one year at a time and see the pattern that emerged. I would lay paths and build arbours and fall asleep to twining clematis and apple blossoms.
Every night I started the garden fresh with new patterns, moving hydrangeas and viburnum around the garden as one would plan a quilt. The garden that blooms now outside my window in a wild profusion of roses and honeysuckle, columbines and clematis truly sprang from my dreams.
Shade is a lemon mousse on a midsummers day.
Lemon mousse makes an elegant end to an evening whether eaten with friends in the garden on in your pjs in bed.
- 3/4 cup lemon juice fresh
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 12 ounces silken tofu
- 1/2 cup canned coconut milk well stirred
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 pinch salt
- turmeric or yellow food coloring optional
- 1/3 cup chopped pistachios optional for garnish
- 1/4 cup pesticide free rose petals optional for garnish
This recipe will make more curd than you need. Use the left over curd on ice cream, with waffles and pancakes, on fresh fruit, on oatmeal etcetera. You get my drift there are few things it isn't wonderful on. If you really love someone give them a tiny glass jar of it, tied with a ribbon and a note.
Place lemon juice, lemon zest, tofu, well stirred coconut milk, water, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and turmeric or 1-2 drops yellow food dye (optional) in blender.
Blend until completely smooth.
Pour the contents of the blender into a medium sized pot and place on stove over medium heat.
Stir your curd continually and thoroughly with a flexible spatula until small bubbles begin to form on the edges of the pot. Continue stirring until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of a spoon.
Remove from heat and pour into a heat safe container. I use a glass jar. To avoid a film from forming on the top of the curd press heat safe plastic wrap onto the surface of the curd.
The curd will keep in the fridge for about 1 1/2 weeks. The curd must be completely cooled before you use it for the lemon mousse.
Chill your dessert glasses or bowls.
Place aquafaba and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a balloon attachment. Turn the mixer on medium for a minute until the liquid is foamy and not so sloshy.
Now turn the speed up as high as it will go and whip for as long as it takes till you get stiff peaks. (7-12 minutes). Add the vanilla extract. Whip one minute.
Slowly add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time while still whipping. Make sure the sugar is completely incorporated and there you have a wonderfully glossy marshmallow-like cream. After the last of the sugar is added whip about two more minutes or until you have stiff peaks.
Scoop out 1/2 cup of the lemon curd to use in the mousse and place the rest in a covered jar in the refrigerator.
Gently stir the lemon curd through the aquafaba whip using a folding motion with a rubber spatula. When it is incorporated stop stirring or you will deflate to mousse. Too little folding is better than too much.
Scoop your mousse into waiting chilled dessert bowls or glasses. If not eating right away then place into the fridge for up to an hour or in the freezer for an hour if you want a semifreddo like consistency.