Recently I have been starting to read books by Ann Cleves. They feature Vera Stanhope, a middle aged detective who lives on her own in Northumberland. The books have been made into a television series, Vera, which you may have seen. As well as being great reads they bring Northumberland to life. I am literally in the middle of reading The Glass Room, the fifth book in the series.
The book starts with Vera coming home to find Jack, her hippy neighbour, in her house. He is distraught that his partner Joanna has vanished. Vera does not make friends easily, but has a find Joanna. The trail leads to the Writer’s House, a retreat in the country where aspiring writers go to learn their craft. Vera arrives to hear a scream and rushes in to find that murder has been committed. Joanna is the main suspect, having been found with a knife in her hand. Vera quickly gathers her team and begins to investigate the murder. There are plenty of twists and turns and the book keeps you guessing.
I love crime thrillers but they do not often feature food. Usually the detectives are far to busy to eat and the descriptions tend to be of the murder scene rather than the food. I was delighted to find a food reference in the book which gave me the perfect excuse to try and recreate the recipe. One of the detectives was looking around the house after the murder.
He opened the door into a large and well equipped kitchen. A mix of industrial catering and farmhouse traditional. An aga and a stainless steel range cooker. A big rubbed pine table and gleaming worktops. On one of the benches dessert had already been placed in fancy glass bowls on two big trays and covered with tea towels. Some sort of mousse, he thought, lifting the corner of the cloth. Lemon or orange with a raspberry sauce.
I decided to make an orange mousse as I had some oranges in my fruit bowl. I thought it would make a nice light dessert for a warm day. Making the mousse requires patience. The first stage involves mixing egg yolks with sugar and orange juice and heating until a custard like mixture is formed. This needs to be left to cool. Egg whites then need to be whisked until they form soft peaks and this is mixed with sugar. Whisking egg whites always seems to take forever. Just when you are about to give up and think they will never go white then a magic occurs and they become white and fluffy. The egg whites are then mixed with the egg yolk mixture and once the mousse is in glasses it then needs to be left to set.
The waiting is worth it though as the resulting mousse is light and refreshing, perfect to round off your dinner. I still needed to make some raspberry sauce and did this by putting raspberries with sugar in a pan, heating gently. The raspberries will become soft and release their juice and then can be passed though a sieve to make a sauce. Any leftover sauce can be used on ice cream.
I decorated the mouse with orange slices and raspberries and sat in the sun outside to eat it. There is something relaxing about eating something sweet on a hot day, listening to the birds singing in the trees and the bees buzzing in the flowers.
As the recipe was inspired by a novel I am adding it to ReadCookEat over on Chez Maximka.