Everyone loves a party. Fanny certainly did. Well, that's the impression she liked to leave us with. Endless parties, soirees, balls, luncheons, functions and banquets. She was ready for them all. At the drop of a hat, or a simple knock at the door, she'd jump into her ballgown and have that celebratory buffet table adorned and ready to be adored. She was aspirational. If she could do it, so could you. You just need to follow her simple instructions to the letter, and voilà, you shall be a social success.
Fanny aimed to raise the bar, boosting the boasting possibilities of her bashes to blow-out levels. Her books, and the partwork, are rammed full of party ideas as well as ideas to lift a very 'ordinary' recipe to 'party' level. Often the solutions were in the planning, preparation and presentation. Visually stunning at the time, some of these ideas can stun the eyes for very different reasons these days, although I am of course very fond of them. I was so thrilled to buy a copy of the book 70s Dinner Party by Anna Pallai recently, collecting together fabulous images of fun and festivity, including a fair few from Fanny. Fanny would've been over the moon, even though she would probably wonder why any other people's pictures had been included.
So, if like Fanny, and Anna, you're keen to host your very own glamorously presented 70s Dinner Party, this recipe may just be the one for you. As usual in English it sounds far from appealing. Cold Mushroom Soufflé. However magically when presented in French it takes on a suitable celebratory tinge. Soufflé Forestière. Who wouldn't want to introduce that to the neighbour that you never really liked very much? Especially with an Aspic top.
I was intrigued how on earth Fanny managed to get a topping of Mushrooms in Aspic on a soufflé without it flopping. I should've known better. Fanny had a presentation plan, all of which was aspic-tastic. She begins by making up some real aspic, as before (I switch to an Agar base, as before) and setting some slices of mushroom in a fancy pattern in the base of a soufflé dish. The base, yes. Then, she blitzed up mushrooms and poaches them gently in white wine and stock. She makes a roux of butter and flour, and slowly adds the mushroom mix. She adds cream, and cheese, mixing all the time. When it's cool-ish she beats in egg yolks. All very standard soufflé sounding so far.
However, before she adds the beaten egg whites, she adds more of the still-hot and still-liquid aspic to the mixture. It's then poured into the mould on top of the set mushrooms, levelled off and whisked off to the refrigerator. Not the oven. Once chilled it all sets into a wobbly vision of wonderfulness, simply turned out onto a serving dish to reveal the seductively decorated top, ready for any shindig. Party guests, whether in the 70s or today, will be mesmerised, amazed, delighted and frankly flabbergasted by your funghi feast.