lunch for nana’s birthday

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My mother-in-law turned 85 yesterday, & tomorrow we’ll be having lunch with her & Poppa. While they’re both getting on now (Poppa is 93 & very frail), they’re still in their own home & enjoy pottering in the garden, watching sport on TV, & cooking for themselves & any visitors they might have (ell, these days Nana does most of the cooking). But tomorrow, I’m providing the birthday lunch.

I had to think carefully about what to cook, because Poppa prefers soft food these days. In the end, I decided on a smoked salmon roulade – because she loves fish, with new potatoes, steamed brocolli florets, & lemon thyme hollandaise. And a chocolate mousse to follow (they both love puddings 🙂 ).

Some salmon roulade recipes are basically a cream cheese mix rolled in strips of smoked salmon, but I knew neither of the old people would enjoy that version. So I made a thick bechamel sauce, starting by melting 50g of butter & stirring in about 1/2 c of plain flour. You need to stir this for a minute or so once the flour & butter are combined, over a gentle heat, as the flavour of the sauce is much better. Then, with the pan still on the heat, whisk in 500ml milk – I usually do this a bit at a time as it seems to minimise the lumps – & continue to stir until it’s very thick. Remove the pan from the stove, season the sauce, & let it cool for about 5 minutes before beating in 4 egg yolks. Finally, beat the egg whites until stiff & dry, & fold them into the mix before pouring it into a swiss roll tin that’s been lined with baking paper, & bake at 180 degree C until golden & set. After which, turn the sponge out onto foil or baking paper on a cake rack, & let it cool. Which is what’s happening at the moment 🙂

Then I’m going to spread the top of the sponge – leaving an inch or so at one short end – with cream cheese that’s had a cup or so of finely chopped herbs blended into it: chives, garlic chives, lemon thyme, & parsley. And on top of that will go 200g of flaked smoked salmon. Next I’ll roll it tightly, beginning from the other short end & using the baking paper to help, put it on a pretty dish, & refrigerate until an hour or so before lunch, as I think it’ll be nicer at room temperature.

The mousse? That’s already in little glass serving dishes in the fridge. I bought a 520g block of Whitakers 72% dark ghana chocolate, when I did the grocery shopping this morning, & melted about 400g in a glass bowl in the microwave. (I know the books all say this should be done over hot water, but I find the microwave works just fine – you just have to be careful to heat in short bursts & stir well each time.) Into the molten chocolate I stirred 50g of butter, a couple of tablespoons of Grand Marnier, and about 100ml of cream, before stirring in the yolks of 4 eggs. The final step was to fold the stiffly beaten egg whites through the mix, before dividing it between the serving dishes & hiding them in the fridge to set.

And warning the husband Not to Touch, or else There’ll Be Trouble!

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