I've recently been reading up on an old 70's cult favourite, the Snaffles Mousse. For those in the know, Snaffles was a fashionable basement restaurant in Dublin and the Snaffles Mousse was the signature dish of its proprietor, Nicholas Tinné.
Hilariously, Snaffles Mousse is nothing more than a mixture of Philadelphia cheese and Campbell's consommé soup- but it tastes like a sophisticated and creamy smoked fish mousse. Well, Up to a point, Lord Copper. There's also quite a bit about it on the internet, including a new interpretation by none other than Simon Hopkinson. Simon Hopkinson (co-author of The Prawn Cocktail Years) is currently my number one culinary hero and what he says and does, in my eyes can do no wrong.
Here's my take on the fabulous Snaffles Mousse. It's based on Nicholas Tinné's original recipe (as published in The Good Food Guide Dinner Party Book (published 1971), but includes Simon Hopkinson's refinements and if I may make so bold Master Copperfield, one or two of my own tweaks as well:
Take a leaf of gelatine and soak it in cold water until it's soft. Open up a tin of beef consommé soup (I fear Campbell's is no longer with us in Perfidious Albion, so use Baxter's) and heat up about two tablespoons of the stuff in a small pan. Once the consommé is hot (but not boiling), lift the gelatine out of the water, give it a squeeze to get rid of the excess water and chuck it into the hot consommé. Swirl it together to melt the gelatine and set aside to cool down.
Pour the remaining consommé into a liquidizer and add 300g (that's a pack!) of Extra Light Philadelphia cheese, two teaspoons of curry paste, a crushed garlic clove, the juice of a lemon and the remaining hot consommé/gelatine mix. I used two teaspoons of Patak's Madras paste. It was far too strong. Simon Hopkinson used Patak's Tikka paste which should be milder, but I would suggest that you go easy on the curry paste- you are not making a curry mousse, rather a mousse with a hint of curry, if you get my drift.
Check the seasoning and then whizz it all together until smooth. The longer you blitz it, the smoother it will be. Strain it through a sieve. This will help to get rid of the uncooked bits from the curry paste. Pour it into a bowl and then whisk it like mad, and by hand, until frothy. This will help to lighten it up. Pour it into ramekin dishes and bung it in the 'fridge.
Once it has set, take it out, and cover the top with a layer of prawns. Finish the dish off with a layer of mock caviar. I've ditched the standard over-salty stuff and now use Onuga herring roe. This has a subtle, delicious and smoky taste and I would throughly recommend it. As a further refinement, I'm interested in using Campbell's chicken consommé (rather than beef)- I have a hunch that this would make an even lighter, creamier mousse; but I seem to remember hearing that Campbells' is no longer available over here. If any reader can enlighten me on this one, I would be most grateful.