Dear Constant Reader,
I recently made dinner based on a menu in a little cookbook from 1950, Meals for Two Cookbook. True confession, I just used the menu as a guideline and made similar dishes from other vintage cookbooks in my collection.
The entree (Lamb en Brochette) was from an undated “postwar” butcher’s pamphlet, the vegetable (Épinard à l’italienne) was from a 1947 cookbook, and the bread (Sweet Potato Biscuits) came from a 1935 baking powder pamphlet. Dessert, however, did come from the original cookbook and that’s what I want to share with you.
Dessert was Peach Mousse and I was intrigued. Usually when I make mousse, it involves whipping heavy cream or egg whites (or both) and maybe a little gelatin to stabilize. This used evaporated milk, a substance I’d never had in my kitchen before, and it was a frozen dessert.
The ingredients are simple: peaches, sugar, evaporated milk, lemon juice, and a dash of salt (the salt box is hiding behind the other ingredients — I forgot to move it into the shot).
Peel the peaches and mash them to make 3/4 cup of puree. That was about a peach and a half in my case. Add some sugar and stir until it dissolves.
The recipe says to whisk the chilled milk until stiff. This is terribly amusing. I was using my trusty hand mixer and while the milk thickened, it was nowhere near stiff. After a little research I discovered that whipping evaporated milk needs a little special prep. Put the milk, bowl, and beaters into the freezer for half an hour. Then beat for only a few minutes. I did get soft peaks, but I’d never call it stiff. I couldn’t imagine this working with a whisk at all.
Fold in the peach puree, lemon juice, and salt and stick in the freezer. I put it in smaller, lidded container to freeze. That night it was in the freezer for maybe 5 hours and it was still soft at dessert time. A couple days later, it was very hard and probably wanted to spend a little time at room temperature before scooping.
I served it with fresh blueberries thus:
It’s more like ice cream than mousse, but so deliciously peachy that who cares. It’s easy to make, as long as you properly chill the milk. The actual preparation is pretty fast, although you’ve got to wait hours for it to harden up enough to serve.
Here’s the recipe:
2 large peaches
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Pour evaporated milk into a bowl (preferably metal) and put it and the mixer’s beaters in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Peel and stone the peaches and mash to get 3/4 cup puree. Add the sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved.
Whip the milk for just about three minutes, until it resembles whipped cream. Fold in the peach mixture, lemon juice, and salt.
Cover and freeze for several hours, until firm.
Makes about 3 cups.
There’s a variation that uses bananas instead of peaches. I loathe bananas, but maybe I can find some brave taste-testers.