Warm artichoke mousse with dried ceps

This is a wonderful winter starter.  If you’re vegetarian, gently fry roughly crumbled 200g/7oz vacuum-packed chestnuts instead of using the bacon.  The recipe and photo are from The Great British Vegetable Cookbook (see books).

Serves 4


unsalted butter for greasing

15g/½ oz dried ceps

450g/1lb Jerusalem artichokes

2 medium eggs

120ml/4fl oz double cream

salt and freshly ground black pepper


200g/7oz smoked bacon, trimmed of fat (or chestnuts, see above)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, finely diced

2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons walnut oil

115g/4oz mixed baby salad leaves


1  Preheat the oven to fan 140°C/gas 2.  Line a deep roasting tray with a few sheets of kitchen paper. Liberally butter four 150ml/5fl oz dariole moulds.  Cut out and liberally butter 4 circles of baking paper to fit their tops and 4 to fit their bottoms. Line the bottom of each mould with the paper disc and place in the roasting tray.


2  Put the dried ceps into a small pan and cover with cold water.  Bring up to the boil, the strain the water into another saucepan.  Finely dice the ceps. 


3  Peel the Jerusalem artichokes.  If large, quarter and place in the pan with the cep water.  Cover with cold water from the tap and bring up to the boil.  Cook briskly for about 15-20 minutes, or until tender.  Drain thoroughly.  Purée the artichokes until smooth in a food processor.   Add the eggs, cream and seasoning and blend.


4  Divide half the artichoke custard between the buttered ramekins.  Sprinkle the diced ceps over each, and add the remaining custard.  It won’t come up to the top of the ramekin.  Cover each with the baking paper, butter-side down.  Pour enough just boiled water into the roasting tray to come half way up the sides of the pots. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the mousses are set.


5 Meanwhile, cut the bacon into lardons (or prepare your chestnuts).  Once the mousses are ready, place a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat.  Add the olive oil, and once hot, add the bacon lardons or chestnuts.  Fry the bacon briskly for 5 minutes, or until crisp; otherwise fry the chestnuts for 3 minutes, or until hot.


6  Whisk together the garlic, sherry vinegar and walnut oil in a mixing bowl.  Season to taste.  Mix in the salad leaves and hot bacon or chestnuts.  Remove the paper from the mousses and, using a small knife, gently loosen the custard from the sides, then invert each one onto an appetiser with a sharp shake.  Garnish with the salad and serve immediately.


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