Thursday, May 1, 2008

Polly's Blessings

Today is May Day or Bealtaine; it is a day which is traditionally celebrated by the Druids and other pagan religions as the earth returns to her fertile state and summer approaches.

For centuries
in the United Kingdom maidens have danced danced around a specially erected Maypole and Morris Dancer's frolicked (I've only witnessed this once, about fourteen years ago!) whereas in Ireland we decorated the Maybush. No doubt each country has its own traditions, and each locality its own variations on the theme.

Unfortunately, like so many of our traditions; of either Christian or Pagan origin, society in general appears to have forgotten their value and the impact they have had upon the masses in times past. Nowadays it is barely remembered that May is the month of the Virgin Mary. Once children would lovingly adorn alters made in
her honour with blossoms plucked from the garden or the hedgerows.

Since childhood I do not remember seeing any maypole's or dancer's on village green's celebrating this momentous day in the years calender. I have spied the occasional Maybush; adorned with strips of ribbon, silver foil and egg shells; all of which are traditional offerings for the month of May. As the old people are passing on; they are becoming fewer and fewer though...

Luckily enough, I know a couple of Druids who do celebrate the seasons and the old ways; including Bealtaine. I opened up my e-mail this morning only to find this lovely recipe; which simply must be celebrated in the company of a lover. What a lovely gift for a lovely day! Thanks Mel; I hope you don't mind my transcribing it here, but I am really touched...

Zabaglione (Serves 6)

6 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup Marsala wine (or Sweet Vermouth)
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
Ground cinnamon
Vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, whipped
Strawberries, raspberries, or biscotti


Place egg yolks, and sugar in a large, round-bottomed stainless steel

Add grated lemon peel and a pinch of cinnamon and a drop of
vanilla extract to the yolk mixture. Pour in the Marsala wine.

Half-fill a pot with water, bring the water to a simmer and reduce
the heat to low. Set the pan or bowl containing the custard mixture
over the water; the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. (or if like BJK you've got a bain-marie use that instead - it's easier!)

Whisk the custard mixture for about 10 minutes; or until the mixture triples in volume, froths up and becomes pale. Be sure that the water doesn't boil as a gentle, even heat thickens the mixture without curdling. Whisking traps air in the yolks for a light, fluffy

When it reaches the desired consistency remove from the heat and continue whisking for a minute or two; to prevent the custard from sticking. Slightly thickened; this custard can be used as a sauce; if cooked for longer it will result in a thicker custard with a mousse-like texture.

Serve the custard while still warm or if you prefer set it aside for about 15 minutes and serve it cool.

Whisk the cream until it forms soft peaks, reserve about one third of the cream; gently folding the rest into the cooled custard.

Ladle the zabaglione into individual dishes.

Serve with whipped cream, berries, and/or cookies such as biscotti and enjoy in the company of a loved one!

Also in the e-mail was this beautiful picture; painted by Mickey Muller. Once again, I have to share it with you as it really is something else. Click on the link and have a look at her web-site, she's got some smashing stuff on it...

So, all that's left for me to say is Happy Bealtaine!

Polly Peirce
Purveyor of Fine Handmade Irish Greeting Cards & Wedding Stationary


Anonymous said...

What a lovely post Polly, thank you.

Polly Peirce said...

Thank you for saying so! I was touched by my friend's e-mail and simply had to share the bestowed blessings...