Today is the autumn solstice, which means a couple of things for me:
1) Since my precious little Baby Saffron was born on the 21st of March and thus the spring solstice, she turned 6 months old today. Where does the time go?
2) I really have to put up some of the "summer" posts I still have in my drafts since they're not really relevant anymore. It's time to start making heavier fare to pat the tummy and the spirit against the cooler weather.
So, you get to see our visit to the zoo (though you wouldn't have known it was summer with the weather we had at the zoo that day) and these mango and passion fruit verrines which come from the leftover ingredients of the mango macarons.
To be perfectly honest, I hate the zoo. I just hate to see these poor animals in captivity. But we didn't go to the zoo for our own pleasure since A. hates the zoo even more than I do, we went because Baby Saffron is simply enthralled with animals right now and does the funniest acrobatics just to try and reach the dogs with her fingertips, so we thought she'd enjoy seeing all these other strange and wonderful-looking animals.
Unfortunately, the day was gray and drab, and while she loves seeing the dogs at close quarters, most of the animals were too far away in their pens to generate much more than mild interest on her part. Plus, there were so many people it was often difficult to get in a position where she could see something in the throng, which prompts me to say that the most obnoxious animals at the zoo were clearly the humans. She was fascinated by the hyenas, but I'm pretty sure that was because they looked like dogs to her.
We spent some time looking at the flamingos and I caught one of them in a ballerina stretch above, so effortlessly graceful. The ocelots were staring at the passage from their lair to their outer pen and we figured it was probably close to meal time. While it is necessary I suppose, particularly given some peoples' foolishness, I did hate taking pictures of the ocelots and the tigers through thick sheets of glass.
The verrines are composed of a layer of the filling I made for the macarons, a layer of honey mango puree, a layer of whipped cream, and a topping of fresh passion fruit. They were actually even more refreshing than I expected them to be.
While I do hate the zoo, I have to admit that generally speaking, most of the enclosures were much better and larger than at any other zoo I've seen. I still think it's a shame to "cage" the animals in this way and put them in environments that are nothing like their natural ones -I mean, it's London, so all those poor animals that are used to tropical weather must be freezing, I know I am- but as my sister pointed out, in some cases it may be better to be in a pen than staring down the end of a poacher's gun barrel. And it enables us and other parents like us to take their wee ones to see some beautiful animals without taking them on a trek across the globe.
For more filling (which I made up as I was going along so feel free to try your own version) than you can possibly put in mango macarons and thus end up making Mango-Passion Fruit verrines:
- 1/2 Honey Mango
- 2 egg whites
- 50g granulated sugar
- ~50g double cream
- ~100g fromage frais
- ~40g fresh passion fruit
- Puree the honey mango but you do not need all of it for the filling as it is very watery.
- Put the egg whites with the sugar in a bowl over simmering water (double-boiler) and heat to 100C whipping constantly. Take off the heat and continue whipping until cool (I use my stand mixer bowl for this). You should have a stiff glossy meringue (Swiss).
- In a separate bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. Add the fromage frais and whip until smooth. Fold in the Swiss meringue. Fold in the passion fruit (save the seeds with a little juice for the top layer of the verrine) and some of the mango puree so that the mixture is not too thin and will stiffen in the fridge.
- Then you simply put some of that mixture on the bottom of your glass.
- Top with a layer of the leftover mango puree.
- Top with a layer of whipped cream (preferably freshly whipped cream and not stuff from the can so that you can sweeten it as you wish and not as the manufacturer wishes).
- Top that with the reserved passion fruit seeds and juice. Cover and refrigerate so that it is cool and refreshing when you wish to enjoy it.