Summer Berry Mille Feuille with Lemon Curd

July 18, 2009

Post image for Summer Berry Mille Feuille with Lemon Curd

Nothing will make you feel better about your cooking failures than watching chef Gordon Ramsay excoriate a hapless member of his kitchen brigade. So when my second attempt at a berry dessert crashed and burned, I watched an episode from the recent season of Ramsay’s The F Word, which is where I saw this recipe.

He made it look so easy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xz0Rvn7rWi4

Wouldn’t that make you want to try it yourself? If not, why are you reading this? Waiting to read about another failure? As if.

I made the lemon curd first, weighing out 170 grams of unsalted butter and 400 grams of sugar to go with 4 lemons and 6 eggs. (The amounts for everything are doubled; I made the recipe for eight.)

Mise en place

I zested and juiced the lemons, and beat the eggs.

Preppy yellow

All of this yellow stuff went into a saucepan over low heat.

Not curd yet

I stirred the mixture constantly until it thickened, then I passed it through a fine-meshed sieve to remove the zest.

Final curd

The curd waited in the fridge while I made the phyllo crisps. I thawed out a roll of phyllo sheets, laid down a single sheet, spread it with beaten egg white, the repeated the process two more times until I had three layers.

Phyllo

I used a biscuit cutter to cut the phyllo into rounds.

Phyllo rounds

I need to point out that working with phyllo is exactly the same as handling an ancient Egyptian papyrus document in the British Museum: you work in terror of  having it crumble in your hands.

Ignoring a confusing step in the recipe, but taking a cue from the video, I dusted a tray with confectioner’s sugar, placed the rounds on the tray, and then dusted the tops. I fried them six at a time over medium-high heat in clarified butter until they were puffy and crisp.

Crisping rounds

When I was done, I let them cool on a rack while I moved on to the berry prep.

Finished rounds

I washed a quart each of raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries, then trimmed and quartered the strawberries.

Berry nice

Time for the final assembly: I placed a spoonful of the curd on each plate, topped it with a crisp and then more curd.

Curdistan

A layer of berries was next, then another crisp and more curd.

Halfway done

More berries, another crisp, a dusting of confectioner’s sugar, and then the remainng berries were arranged around the plate.

Final plate

This might be the perfect summer dessert. The combination of textures  — firm berries, soft curd, and crispy phyllo — work well together. And the taste was a perfect balance of tart and sweet.

So I can cook a berry dessert, with almost the same ingredients as before. Maybe I just need to avoid whisking for a while.

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