I adore good illustrations.
My bookshelves are filled with books featuring the exquisite renderings of artists old and young, dead and alive, Russian and British. I love them all.
As a wee lass, my favorite illustrated books were from the brilliant Brambly Hedge series by Jill Barklem. I would curl up in a cozy nook holding the books close to my face so I could take in every detail of the amazing world she created. From the lush hangings on a canopied bed and adorable mice to the intricate workings of the Store Stump and finely wrought berry bushes, I was mesmerized.
I’m still in awe of her work. The attention she pays to every swoosh of fabric, fold of petal, and groove of woodwork is truly magnificent.
I could never hope to match her prowess in this area, but in homage to the years of inspiration and delight she’s given me, I thought I’d illustrate this blog post with my own humble doodles.
Throughout her books, Barklem highlights simple events in the lives of her mice: a winter ball, a young girl getting lost, a wedding. In each one she features the old-fashioned foods they loved. Everything was made from scratch using the ingredients found in the woods, meadows and fields where they lived: Chestnuts, berries, dandelions.
They roasted apples over open flame, baked lavish cakes, and brewed their own flower wine. I was enchanted by all of it, but especially by something called syllabubs. It was a strange and wonderful word to this Canadian girl, but I had absolutely no idea what it was. A cheese? Soup? Some sort of drink?
Finally last week I researched it and found it was none of the above. It is, in fact, a lovely, airy concoction of cream, some sort of alcohol, and sugar. I was surprised and delighted and last night I made my very first syllabubs.
I whipped heavy cream and agave syrup until soft peaks formed.
Zested and juiced a lemon,
measured out white wine,
and blended them into the cream, whipping it again until soft peaks returned.
Topped with a sprig of fresh mint it was a lusciously light and perky dessert, a splendid follow-up to a dinner of Lime-Walnut Crusted Flounder and Irish Mashed Potatoes.
Next time I want to make a posset. 🙂
Did any of you read Brambly Hedge? Is there a dish you were intrigued by as a child?
1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
2-3 Tbsp agave syrup
1/4 cup chardonnay or similar white wine
Juice of one lemon
zest of one lemon
Fresh mint leaves to garnish
- Whip cream and agave until soft peaks form.
- Add wine, lemon juice and zest and beat until soft peaks form again.
- Spoon into glasses or small dishes, garnish with mint leaves and chill until ready to serve.