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Cook-Off 61: Gels, Jell-O and Aspic

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#31 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 07:10 AM

So if I prepared the ingredients in a mold, what would you think about these layers of flavors?
-Bottom layer, Huckleberry Compote combined with gelatine.
-Second layer, Sauternes Jelly?
-Top layer, Foie Gras Mousse
-Garnishes, Brioche, (Cut in wedges), Huckleberry Compote around the plate.

The idea is to dip your spoon into the top layer of foie gras and the first taste is rich and decadent, then you sens the second layer of sweet, silky Sauterne, and a final layer burst of flavor from tart, fragrant huckleberries. Any suggestions or thoughts on the technique or flavor combinations?


What I'd be tempted to do is work from the top of the mold to the bottom:
-first layer: Fois gras mousse
-second layer: Sauternes jelly, or if you're feeling very rich, perhaps a palmito mousse? You're looking for creamy and delicate flavours in this layer, if I'm reading you right.
-third layer: huckleberry jelly (compote with gelatine, or perhaps try a hard-pectin set, sort of like PDF)
-fourth layer: disc of brioche crouton, cut to shape. This is added when the huckleberry layer is almost but not entirely set, so that it sticks in well and becomes part of the mold, rather than simply a support.

You'd come out with a triple-layer mold on a brioche base, sort of like how the best dessert mousses are set up (well, here at least); the crouton on the bottom will make it much easier to plate the final results, and will also give you just a hint of crunch in each bite, which looks like it was an essential part of the original dish.
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#32 Baron d'Apcher

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 10:40 AM

We'd love to hear more about this dish and the techniques.


The legs were Frenched, the thigh bones removed and a foremeat made from the giblets, the “oyster” muscle, my lardo and herbs stuffed into the opened leg. The leg was tied and poached in a court-bouillon until tender and cooled in the liquid. The resulting liquid was whisked into a roux to make a suprême sauce, then supplemented with 3% gelatin (by weight) to make chaud-froid. The legs were glazed with the chaud-froid, like one would enrobe an item in chocolate and then an aspic fleur de lys découpage (cut-out) was placed on top, a piece of lemon zest for the band and 2 small parsley leaves. The aspic was made from caramelized onion consommé with 10% gelatin, poured in a plate then cut out with ring molds once cold.

I did make a bloody-mary Jell-O mold with vodka, cocktail onions, pimento-stuffed olives with toothpicks in them, horseradish, pickles capers…the works. It was not deemed worthy of photographing for posterity, or consuming enjoyably.

(The following have been posted over the years, forgive the cross-posting)

I experimented with aspic decoupage later with the “5 scented ham with ink-truffle decoupage”. Squid-ink aspic was used to mimic truffle after not being able to find over-the-counter charcoal tablets and failed attempts with coffee and soy sauce. Squid-ink aspic with ham may be all the rage at progressive Jetson’s eateries in Chicago, but it is not a flavor that I crave. At all. Charcoal tablets and truffle juice were used back in the day to make “truffled” aspic without the heavy financial burden.

Posted Image


I noodled with whole fish in aspic, clarified white wine court-bouillon (10% gelatin). Deboned through the back (got it ungutted from a Latin market) and stuffed with shrimp, my lardo and espelette. In hindsight, not the best choice of fish –too soft of flesh. Put a light coat of aspic on the meat (removed the skin) and shingled blanched carrot slices. Lined an oval dish with plastic wrap and made a mold of sorts. Melted away the excess with a torch.

Posted Image

I revisited chaud-froid with “Chichen galantine with Robert Delaunay “Joie de Vivre” chaud-froid and Venn Diagram aspic”.
Boneless chicken, stuffed, poached then coated in chaud-froid and decorated with pepper Venn diagram motif. Glazed in clear aspic at the end.

Posted Image

I used food coloring to make a Swedish ham, and a blow-dryer to fuse the aspic –not the smoothest finish, and kind of crooked.

Posted Image

I recommend using a scale and grams to ensure reliable and consistent aspics. 1.8% salt and either 8-10% gelatin depending on the body of the initial liquid.

#33 David Ross

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 05:09 PM


So if I prepared the ingredients in a mold, what would you think about these layers of flavors?
-Bottom layer, Huckleberry Compote combined with gelatine.
-Second layer, Sauternes Jelly?
-Top layer, Foie Gras Mousse
-Garnishes, Brioche, (Cut in wedges), Huckleberry Compote around the plate.

The idea is to dip your spoon into the top layer of foie gras and the first taste is rich and decadent, then you sens the second layer of sweet, silky Sauterne, and a final layer burst of flavor from tart, fragrant huckleberries. Any suggestions or thoughts on the technique or flavor combinations?


What I'd be tempted to do is work from the top of the mold to the bottom:
-first layer: Fois gras mousse
-second layer: Sauternes jelly, or if you're feeling very rich, perhaps a palmito mousse? You're looking for creamy and delicate flavours in this layer, if I'm reading you right.
-third layer: huckleberry jelly (compote with gelatine, or perhaps try a hard-pectin set, sort of like PDF)
-fourth layer: disc of brioche crouton, cut to shape. This is added when the huckleberry layer is almost but not entirely set, so that it sticks in well and becomes part of the mold, rather than simply a support.

You'd come out with a triple-layer mold on a brioche base, sort of like how the best dessert mousses are set up (well, here at least); the crouton on the bottom will make it much easier to plate the final results, and will also give you just a hint of crunch in each bite, which looks like it was an essential part of the original dish.


Thanks, you've described what I'm looking for to a "t." What is the flavor of palmito? I forgot to mention that the Foie Gras Mousse I use has chopped black truffles in it. Do you think the flavor of the truffle changes things in terms of the other gel layers?

#34 Margaret Pilgrim

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 05:15 PM

I am thinking back to a dessert we served often in the 70's made with rennet: This is an example. It was softer and not as clear as a gelatine but really lovey in texture.

Oh, yes, that was lovely, if rather synthetically flavored stuff. I more recently found a recipe for doing it from scratch in French Saveurs or Elle a Table. Will try to locate it. Sublime. Thanks for the memory.
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#35 janeer

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 09:34 PM

Ok, Baron, you constantly amaze me but "Venn Diagram motif" just made my day.

#36 AlenChris

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 09:55 PM


We'd love to hear more about this dish and the techniques.


The legs were Frenched, the thigh bones removed and a foremeat made from the giblets, the “oyster” muscle, my lardo and herbs stuffed into the opened leg. The leg was tied and poached in a court-bouillon until tender and cooled in the liquid. The resulting liquid was whisked into a roux to make a suprême sauce, then supplemented with 3% gelatin (by weight) to make chaud-froid. The legs were glazed with the chaud-froid, like one would enrobe an item in chocolate and then an aspic fleur de lys découpage (cut-out) was placed on top, a piece of lemon zest for the band and 2 small parsley leaves. The aspic was made from caramelized onion consommé with 10% gelatin, poured in a plate then cut out with ring molds once cold.

I did make a bloody-mary Jell-O mold with vodka, cocktail onions, pimento-stuffed olives with toothpicks in them, horseradish, pickles capers…the works. It was not deemed worthy of photographing for posterity, or consuming enjoyably.

(The following have been posted over the years, forgive the cross-posting)

I experimented with aspic decoupage later with the “5 scented ham with ink-truffle decoupage”. Squid-ink aspic was used to mimic truffle after not being able to find over-the-counter charcoal tablets and failed attempts with coffee and soy sauce. Squid-ink aspic with ham may be all the rage at progressive Jetson’s eateries in Chicago, but it is not a flavor that I crave. At all. Charcoal tablets and truffle juice were used back in the day to make “truffled” aspic without the heavy financial burden.

Posted Image


I noodled with whole fish in aspic, clarified white wine court-bouillon (10% gelatin). Deboned through the back (got it ungutted from a Latin market) and stuffed with shrimp, my lardo and espelette. In hindsight, not the best choice of fish –too soft of flesh. Put a light coat of aspic on the meat (removed the skin) and shingled blanched carrot slices. Lined an oval dish with plastic wrap and made a mold of sorts. Melted away the excess with a torch.

Posted Image

I revisited chaud-froid with “Chichen galantine with Robert Delaunay “Joie de Vivre” chaud-froid and Venn Diagram aspic”.
Boneless chicken, stuffed, poached then coated in chaud-froid and decorated with pepper Venn diagram motif. Glazed in clear aspic at the end.

Posted Image

I used food coloring to make a Swedish ham, and a blow-dryer to fuse the aspic –not the smoothest finish, and kind of crooked.

Posted Image

I recommend using a scale and grams to ensure reliable and consistent aspics. 1.8% salt and either 8-10% gelatin depending on the body of the initial liquid.



That's some brilliant garnishing you guys have done there. Loving it. Thanks for sharing it with us.

#37 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 06:29 AM



So if I prepared the ingredients in a mold, what would you think about these layers of flavors?
-Bottom layer, Huckleberry Compote combined with gelatine.
-Second layer, Sauternes Jelly?
-Top layer, Foie Gras Mousse
-Garnishes, Brioche, (Cut in wedges), Huckleberry Compote around the plate.

The idea is to dip your spoon into the top layer of foie gras and the first taste is rich and decadent, then you sens the second layer of sweet, silky Sauterne, and a final layer burst of flavor from tart, fragrant huckleberries. Any suggestions or thoughts on the technique or flavor combinations?


What I'd be tempted to do is work from the top of the mold to the bottom:
-first layer: Fois gras mousse
-second layer: Sauternes jelly, or if you're feeling very rich, perhaps a palmito mousse? You're looking for creamy and delicate flavours in this layer, if I'm reading you right.
-third layer: huckleberry jelly (compote with gelatine, or perhaps try a hard-pectin set, sort of like PDF)
-fourth layer: disc of brioche crouton, cut to shape. This is added when the huckleberry layer is almost but not entirely set, so that it sticks in well and becomes part of the mold, rather than simply a support.

You'd come out with a triple-layer mold on a brioche base, sort of like how the best dessert mousses are set up (well, here at least); the crouton on the bottom will make it much easier to plate the final results, and will also give you just a hint of crunch in each bite, which looks like it was an essential part of the original dish.


Thanks, you've described what I'm looking for to a "t." What is the flavor of palmito? I forgot to mention that the Foie Gras Mousse I use has chopped black truffles in it. Do you think the flavor of the truffle changes things in terms of the other gel layers?


Palmito (heart of palm) is fairly difficult to describe. It's a delicate flavour similar to heart of celery but with faint tropical notes; the part used in the mousse is already quite soft and creamy, and combined with a hint of pimenton de la vera it's basically the vegetable equivalent of a really really good beschamel made with nata (the cream of the cream). It's normally sold as 4" long sections of heart in light brine to preserve it; for mousse one can either chop or puree the whole heart or cut it in half and use only the creamy center (which is what I do, and what the French would do - they regard the outer layers as somehow lacking, although those layers, being slightly more fibrous, are great in salads).

I don't think that the presence of black truffle will change much in the way of the other gel layers, but it does convince me that palmito is the way to go in the cream layer, if you can source it. I keep forgetting that since Ecuador's a producer we've got palmitos coming out our ears, but the rest of the world regards it as a delicacy. Otherwise, Suaternes jelly will do well, or you could investigate making a heavy beschamel with shavings of truffle in it and gelling that with something like konjac or tapioca, neither of which seem to have issues with high-fat.
Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.
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#38 judiu

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 08:40 AM

I'm looking for a recipe that was in the newspaper here in Broward county, FL years ago, for beef and onions braised in beef consumme (sp?), NOT beef broth. The consumme is the reason I'm posting here. Very tasty! Any ideas ? I've searched the web to no avail.
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#39 Baron d'Apcher

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 08:58 AM

I'm looking for a recipe that was in the newspaper here in Broward county, FL years ago, for beef and onions braised in beef consumme (sp?), NOT beef broth. The consumme is the reason I'm posting here. Very tasty! Any ideas ? I've searched the web to no avail.

The consommé is likely beef broth that has been clarified using ground meat and/or egg whites. If cooked slowly enough and properly, a stock or broth will clarify itself with the introduction of protein ie: beef cubes, oxtail, cheeks, shanks, etc... The consommé is then "glued" with gelatin, about 10% by weight and the beef & onions are poured into a mold with the beef aspic. A ruminant alternative to jambon persillé.

#40 David Ross

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 04:52 PM




So if I prepared the ingredients in a mold, what would you think about these layers of flavors?
-Bottom layer, Huckleberry Compote combined with gelatine.
-Second layer, Sauternes Jelly?
-Top layer, Foie Gras Mousse
-Garnishes, Brioche, (Cut in wedges), Huckleberry Compote around the plate.

The idea is to dip your spoon into the top layer of foie gras and the first taste is rich and decadent, then you sens the second layer of sweet, silky Sauterne, and a final layer burst of flavor from tart, fragrant huckleberries. Any suggestions or thoughts on the technique or flavor combinations?


What I'd be tempted to do is work from the top of the mold to the bottom:
-first layer: Fois gras mousse
-second layer: Sauternes jelly, or if you're feeling very rich, perhaps a palmito mousse? You're looking for creamy and delicate flavours in this layer, if I'm reading you right.
-third layer: huckleberry jelly (compote with gelatine, or perhaps try a hard-pectin set, sort of like PDF)
-fourth layer: disc of brioche crouton, cut to shape. This is added when the huckleberry layer is almost but not entirely set, so that it sticks in well and becomes part of the mold, rather than simply a support.

You'd come out with a triple-layer mold on a brioche base, sort of like how the best dessert mousses are set up (well, here at least); the crouton on the bottom will make it much easier to plate the final results, and will also give you just a hint of crunch in each bite, which looks like it was an essential part of the original dish.


Thanks, you've described what I'm looking for to a "t." What is the flavor of palmito? I forgot to mention that the Foie Gras Mousse I use has chopped black truffles in it. Do you think the flavor of the truffle changes things in terms of the other gel layers?


Palmito (heart of palm) is fairly difficult to describe. It's a delicate flavour similar to heart of celery but with faint tropical notes; the part used in the mousse is already quite soft and creamy, and combined with a hint of pimenton de la vera it's basically the vegetable equivalent of a really really good beschamel made with nata (the cream of the cream). It's normally sold as 4" long sections of heart in light brine to preserve it; for mousse one can either chop or puree the whole heart or cut it in half and use only the creamy center (which is what I do, and what the French would do - they regard the outer layers as somehow lacking, although those layers, being slightly more fibrous, are great in salads).

I don't think that the presence of black truffle will change much in the way of the other gel layers, but it does convince me that palmito is the way to go in the cream layer, if you can source it. I keep forgetting that since Ecuador's a producer we've got palmitos coming out our ears, but the rest of the world regards it as a delicacy. Otherwise, Suaternes jelly will do well, or you could investigate making a heavy beschamel with shavings of truffle in it and gelling that with something like konjac or tapioca, neither of which seem to have issues with high-fat.


Thanks for all the suggestions. I'll get to work on it this weekend.

#41 judiu

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 05:57 PM

Thanks, Baron! I guess I didn't make myself clear in my last post, I know what consomme is, I was looking for a recipe using it. Thanks again for your help!
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#42 David Ross

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 09:59 AM

I've got everything to go for my next dish. Found a local Northwest ice wine that I'm going to use instead of Sauternes for the wine jelly in the dish. And I'll probably add a vinegar reduction on the plate. Wish me luck.

#43 Shelby

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 01:39 PM

Can't wait to see it, David!

#44 Mjx

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 12:53 AM

I'm looking forward to seeing this too. I'd planned on being all over this topic asap, then got so slammed with work, I'm barely in the kitchen. Frustrating.

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#45 David Ross

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 03:41 PM

I've been struggling for hours and hours with how to capture the flavors and layers in my next dish-Foie Gras Mousse, Ice Wine Jelly, Huckleberry Compote, Crouton.

I tried about every shape, size and type of mold I have...and nothing worked. The Foie Gras stuck to the mold and wouldn't come out. If the Foie Gras was at room temperature, it was like glue up against the side of the mold. Freeze the Foie Gras in the mold to make it easier to come out? Nope, little crystals of ice formed in the mousse and changed the silky texture we crave in Foie Gras.

I'm challenged by the level of texture in each element--and how they stick to one another in the mold--jelly next to mousse, mousse next to compote, all touching the walls of a persnickety mold. I dipped the mold in warm water to loosen the mousse, then beat it against the counter and pushed a pairing knife around the edge of the mold. What finally came out looked more like dog food rather than something worthy of an eGullet Cook-Off.

And then I remembered. I remembered this dish I tasted a few years back at a noted temple of French gastronomy. A restaurant smack dab in the middle of the desert in Las Vegas of all places. A dish crafted by the hands of a French Master. A man with Michelin Stars. A Chef who served me the ultimate taste of a humble ingredient grown in backyard gardens around the world. A dish with a layer noted on the menu as pea "gelee." I searched back in the archives and came upon my report on Vegas Uncork'd 2010-http://forums.egulle...s-uncorkd-2010/

In my report, this is how I described the vegetable course served at the "Master Series Dinner" at Guy Savoy restaurant in Caesar's Palace-

First Course-
"Tout Petits Pois"-Peas All Around
Served with Pascal and Nicolas Reverdy, Les Coutes, Sancerre, 2007
Guy Savoy #1.jpg

"This is one of Chef Savoy's signature dishes. The base is a pea gelee, then you have pea jus, fresh Spring peas, pea shoots and a poached egg. The waiter cuts through the soft yolk once the dish is placed at the table. The bread for this course was a toasted country bread with chive oil. The taste is the essence of a garden of peas. Everyone at the table used the toast to soak up the pea and soft egg. Delicious."

One of the dessert courses at the 2010 dinner at Guy Savoy was a masterful composition of different flavors and textures of strawberries, again using "gelee" as one of the elements.

Fifth Course-
"La Fraise-Strawberry
Served with Clarendelle, Amberwine, Monbazillac, 2003
Guy Savoy #2.jpg

"The strawberries were served a number of ways-one small wild strawberry, poached strawberries, strawberry sorbet and strawberry gelee garnished with tiny little basil flowers and a small dollop of basil foam to the side. The herbal scent of the basil added to the sense one was eating fresh, sweet strawberries in the field."

While I would like to think my food writing has progressed in the past two years, I know my skills with gels are still lacking. But with the inspiration from the memories of "Peas All Around" and "Strawberry," I'm putting Grandma Pink's little metal Jell-O molds back on the shelf, (for now), and I'm directing my dishes to different preparations. Once I've crafted Foie Gras, Ice Wine Jelly and Huckleberry Compote into something that looks and tastes delicious, I may move on to a sweet dish employing gels.

#46 LindaK

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 04:06 PM

David, I hope you were able to salvage the foie experiment into something tasty to eat, even if it wasn't very pretty. This could be a very expensive cook-off for you. Thanks for taking one for the team!

I'll admit to not being a big fan of gel textures. Just a personal preference, that's all. But that pea dish is calling to me, it looks beautiful and the flavors sound amazing.


 


#47 David Ross

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 04:26 PM

David, I hope you were able to salvage the foie experiment into something tasty to eat, even if it wasn't very pretty. This could be a very expensive cook-off for you. Thanks for taking one for the team!

I'll admit to not being a big fan of gel textures. Just a personal preference, that's all. But that pea dish is calling to me, it looks beautiful and the flavors sound amazing.

I recovered well. I took the foie gras mix and spread it on a slice of the brioche I bought to use as a crouton base for the dish. It was a darn good lunch for 11am on a Saturday.

The Savoy dish takes you on a journey of different textures of peas. While there are subtle differences between the different textures of the peas-gelee, fresh, pea shoots-the essence of pea comes through in each element. I remember the gelee as very tender, not gummy or hard-set like I remember from eating packaged Jell-O. I've had this dish at Guy Savoy about three times now and I'm consistently amazed at how a Chef can make a pea taste so wonderful.

#48 David Ross

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 06:05 PM

You all thought I was scared off gels, didn't you? Hah! Fooled you! I've been wrestling with cups, plates, bowls and molds for the past few days now--still trying to figure out how to portray my Ice Wine Jelly, Foie Gras Mousse and Huckleberry Compote and do it justice. Oh, and I found another vintage cookbook, the "Knox-On-Camera Recipes, A completely new guide to Gel-Cookery."

007.JPG

And this delicious-looking recipe for "Aspic Canapes," ca., 1962-
009.JPG



"Impress guests with these extraordinary professional-looking aspic canapes. They'll think you had a caterer prepare them."
008.JPG

Hmmm. Vintage. Retro. Little metal molds 90 years old. Aspic.........


#49 janeer

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 06:39 PM

You all thought I was scared off gels, didn't you? Hah! Fooled you! I've been wrestling with cups, plates, bowls and molds for the past few days now--still trying to figure out how to portray my Ice Wine Jelly, Foie Gras Mousse and Huckleberry Compote and do it justice. Oh, and I found another vintage cookbook, the "Knox-On-Camera Recipes, A completely new guide to Gel-Cookery."

007.JPG

And this delicious-looking recipe for "Aspic Canapes," ca., 1962-
009.JPG



"Impress guests with these extraordinary professional-looking aspic canapes. They'll think you had a caterer prepare them."
008.JPG

Hmmm. Vintage. Retro. Little metal molds 90 years old. Aspic.........

Worth pointing out, I think, that this and others like it (I have one similar) were aimed at the average housewife. Times have certainly changed.

#50 David Ross

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 07:21 PM


You all thought I was scared off gels, didn't you? Hah! Fooled you! I've been wrestling with cups, plates, bowls and molds for the past few days now--still trying to figure out how to portray my Ice Wine Jelly, Foie Gras Mousse and Huckleberry Compote and do it justice. Oh, and I found another vintage cookbook, the "Knox-On-Camera Recipes, A completely new guide to Gel-Cookery."

007.JPG

And this delicious-looking recipe for "Aspic Canapes," ca., 1962-
009.JPG



"Impress guests with these extraordinary professional-looking aspic canapes. They'll think you had a caterer prepare them."
008.JPG

Hmmm. Vintage. Retro. Little metal molds 90 years old. Aspic.........

Worth pointing out, I think, that this and others like it (I have one similar) were aimed at the average housewife. Times have certainly changed.


I thought the same thing. To a housewife in the 50's or 60's, making aspic canapes for a cocktail party was thought to be "fancy." But then you realize that these gels that were such a fad back then actually do have a relation, and cause for inspiration, for both home cooks and professional Chefs today.

#51 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 06:57 AM

David, I had a thought about your foie gras/huckleberry creation - since you're seeing primarily problems with the foie gras sticking to the molds, why not give the molds a light coat of clear gelatine before beginning, sort of like you would a chocolate mould you wished to fill? That would preserve the layered look of the dessert, encapsulate the foie gras so it doesn't stick, and should make the whole thing just slide out of the moulds when it's done.

EDIT - this is what I do when I'm presenting moulds of palmito mousse with tuna belly pate and mango chutney gelee, and it does work very well.

Edited by Panaderia Canadiense, 11 October 2012 - 06:58 AM.

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#52 lochaven

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 09:29 AM

David:

Just stumbled on this thread and immediately thought of the Knox book, glad to see you mention it later in the thread.

I've been using this book for about 30 years (yes, I started very young, lol) and have tried many things from the aspics, salads and to some of the pies to include:

Lemon Chiffon Pie
Tomato Aspic
Cranberry Souffle Salad
Golden Salad
Tuna Mold
Nesselrode Chiffon Pie

Have been happy with all of them. One interesting thing, the taste and flavors of the final outcome always remind me that these flavor combinations are unique to these dishes and a refreshing change from today's everyday cooking.

Thanks for the inspiration and maybe time to bring this old book out again.
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#53 David Ross

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 05:39 PM

David, I had a thought about your foie gras/huckleberry creation - since you're seeing primarily problems with the foie gras sticking to the molds, why not give the molds a light coat of clear gelatine before beginning, sort of like you would a chocolate mould you wished to fill? That would preserve the layered look of the dessert, encapsulate the foie gras so it doesn't stick, and should make the whole thing just slide out of the moulds when it's done.

EDIT - this is what I do when I'm presenting moulds of palmito mousse with tuna belly pate and mango chutney gelee, and it does work very well.


Thank you for the suggestion. It worked! And....with Grandmother Pink's 100-year old metal Jell-O molds. Trust me, this wasn't a set-up from the start of the Cook-Off. I bought more silicone molds than I'll ever use in a lifetime. None of them worked as well as those little metal molds.

I think everyone will be surprised at the photo results.

#54 David Ross

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 06:57 PM

I've named my next gel dish "Foie Gras Mousse in Ice Wine Jelly with Huckleberry Compote." I'll start with a description of each of the elements that went into the dish-

-The foie gras mousse is from D'Artagnan. I could never, ever, create a mousse of foie gras with black truffle as unctuous, silky and memorable as what I can buy from D'Artagnan. I typically treat myself to only one shipment a year each Fall. But owing to my dedication to this Cook-Off, I ordered two shipments of Foie Gras. (All in the interest of culinary experimentation of course). After tasting this little tidbit, I welcome any Anti-Foie faction to come to my house and have a taste. You will lift the ban within minutes.

-The Ice Wine Jelly was composed of 1 1/2 cups of wine and 1 1/2 tsp. of powdered, unflavored gelatine. To keep with a Northwest theme, (the other Northwest element being the huckleberries), I chose a 2009, Tefft Cellars, Black Ice, Black Muscat, from the Yakima Valley of Central Washington. I heated the wine to a gentle simmer then stirred in the gelatine. The "first layer" was poured into the mold about 1/2" deep, then chilled to set. The "second layer" was a medallion of the foie gras, then a "third layer" of more of the gel. For the "third layer" I used cooled gelatine that wasn't set. I didn't want to use hot gelatine that could have melted the foie gras.

-I am one of the most fortunate cooks in the world. I live literally a few miles from the high mountain meadows where wild huckleberries flourish. Every year in late summer I gather about two gallons of the tart, fragrant berries. I immediately make two things-a huckleberry pie and huckleberry compote. Ligonberries are nice and an ode to Scandanavia, cranberries fully appropriate and blueberries pedestrian in a compote. But no other berry is like a huckleberry. When made into a compote and served with the season's first wild Scottish grouse or spooned onto a piece of toast with bleu cheese, you enter into a state of utter huckleberry pleasure.

Should you be able to get them, fresh huckleberries are best. You can find online sources for frozen huckleberries. Combine all of these ingredients in a saucepan and bring just to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes. The compote will thicken as it cools. It's best kept for a day, covered, in the refrigerator, before serving. Gently warm the compote just before service.

1/4 cup red wine
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups huckleberries
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

-The bread came from Walmart. Yes, the bakery at Walmart supplied the bread for a dish featuring foie gras. I am, I am sure, the only man in America, the world perhaps, to pair bread from Walmart with a culinary icon.

I bought a thick loaf of Italian herb bread. Dried it on the counter for a day, then used an old trick I found for cutting bread in very, very, thin slices--a meat slicer. Yes, the deli-style meat slicer works incredibly well for slicing bread into thin slices--the perfect accompaniment to foie gras, cheese or any soft terrine. After slicing the bread I brushed it with butter and toasted it in the oven until golden.

-The herbs. I wanted to use thyme to play off my earlier photo of a past dish of a foie gras "sandwich" with layers of brioche croutons, foie gras and huckleberry compote. So thyme was a given. Then I found some fresh bay leaves that I bought a few days ago for the brine I'm using to marinate my Sauerbrauten, (that's for next week). A fresh sprig of bay, that seems like a nice garnish.

Next up, some photos of the crafting of the gel in the mold, adding the foie gras, and unmolding the gel. Then plating, garnishing, and a cut-away view of what's in the heart of this little ice wine jelly.

#55 David Ross

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 06:12 PM

The evolution of a dish is a beautiful thing to watch. It can take hours, days, even weeks of experimenting with ingredients, technique and the look of the plate to finally discover the end of the yellow brick road. If you follow our Cook-Offs, you sense that this has been one of the more challenging efforts for me this year. I never set out to become a Master of Modernist gels during this Cook-Off, but I thought it would be easier than it has been. My intent was to take some retro gelatine dishes and craft them into something contemporary.

The Ginger Ale Salad looked woeful, but tasted great. The Bloody Mary Aspic topping the fresh oyster was clean, refreshing and both cool and spicy at the same time. But it really wasn't unique, was it? I was still searching for a gel dish with soul. Real soul. Soul that speaks to your heart as a cook. Something unique in terms of the flavor combinations, the textures and the presentation. But what would be the touch that would give the dish "my" soul?

Through weeks of experimentation, (and a good dose of luck), I composed a chronicle of test shots portraying my thought process leading up to the final version of the Foie Gras and Ice Wine Jelly dish-

The Tests-
Ever more molds to try-silicone cups used for making lollipops, a nonstick metal mini-muffin pan, and some metal cutters and ring molds-
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A small porcelain ramekin, sprayed with non-stick coating and filled with foie gras mousse, levelled-off with a small pastry spatula-
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The porcelain and glass molds didn't work, nor did the new-age, nonstick teflon or space-age silicone molds. Stuck in the mold became the mantra of my Cook-Off. But what about those little metal molds from Grandmother PInk? I've never used them. They've sat in a dark corner in the back of the cupboard for over 50 years. Could it happen? I'll experiment with some lime Jell-O. But how do I unmold the little dome of jelly? Could the little mold crafted a century ago really work?-
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I'm starting to get giddy at this point. The mold worked with Jell-O, but will it work with ice wine jelly? How do I get the foie gras into the mold? And what about plating? I need to serve some bread or cracker with the jelly-mousse, but how do I present the bread? In a little ramkin? Doesn't the ramekin with towering shards of bread overshadow what should be the focus of the plate?-
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I'm starting to believe....

#56 David Ross

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 06:17 PM

The Bread-
"The bread came from Walmart. Yes, the bakery at Walmart supplied the bread for a dish featuring foie gras. I am, I am sure, the only man in America, the world perhaps, to pair bread from Walmart with a culinary icon."

Contrary to the thinking of probably a majority of our Members, you don't always have to buy a loaf of bread crafted with fresh spring water delicately bottled at the source, special bread flour flown in from Paris, and yeast fermented in a rural barn in Mt. Pleasant, Washington. Certainly such ethereal loaves give one an incredible taste, but it wasn't necessary in this dish. What I was seeking in this dish was a very, very thin slice of bread that would serve as the vehicle to deliver the foie gras mousse and ice wine jelly. It had to be fresh so it would toast with a delicate crumb, yet crispy but not so brittle that it would break under the weight of the mousse, jelly and garnish of huckleberry compote.

I bought the standard Walmart bakery Italian loaf with herbs. Aside from what is a very tasteful bread, it was shaped into a rectangular loaf that was perfect for how I was going to slice it--into thin, long shards.

One of the great kitchen tools for slicing bread is a meat slicer. You can control the thickness of the slice, and the blade cuts so incredibly fast that the bread doesn't suffer from that "marshmallow squeeze" effect you get sometimes when you slice bread with a knife.
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The slices were brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with black pepper then toasted in a 350 oven for about 5 minutes until browned.
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#57 David Ross

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 05:46 PM

The Foie Gras Mousse in Ice Wine Jelly-
The main element of the dish started with "Black Ice" 2009 Black Muscat from Tefft Cellars in the Yakima Valley of Central, Washington. The winemakes notes that the wine is "pressed from grapes frozen post-harvest, this wine has the great floral aromas of the Muscat grape, balanced with a crisp, refreshing finish." While not as sweet, syrupy and silken as the delicious ice wines from Ontario or British Columbia, I soon found out that this mildly sweet, fragrant wine was the perfect accompaniment to the rich foie gras.
Gel Cook-Off 015.JPG

The first step was to make the ice wine jelly. I used a ratio of 1 1/2 cups of wine to 1 1/2 tsp. of powdered gelatine. I wasn't exactly sure of the ratio I needed, but after some research, I went heavy on the gelatine and light on the wine. My assumption was that I wanted a "hard" gel so it would support the weight of the thick slab of foie gras that I would suspend in the jelly. The wine was heated until just to a simmer, then the gelatine was stirred in. This first mix of gel would form the base of the mold. At this point, I wasn't going off experience and pretty much in a freestyle form of preparing the mold.

The "first layer"-
Gel Cook-Off 029.JPG

After the first layer chilled, I let it chill and set in the refrigerator for about 1 1/2 hours until very firm.

The "second layer" was composed of thick slabs of foie gras mousse studded with black truffle-
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The "second layer" of gel was then poured in the mold and around the foie gras. The idea at this point was to create a little ice wine jelly "dome" enclosing a "jewel" of foie gras mousse-
Gel Cook-Off 037.JPG

#58 David Ross

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 06:25 PM

Plating-
This was the moment of truth. I really had no experience with unmolding such a precious dish of gel. Limited experience in cutting Jell-O shots does not serve as the proving ground for unmolding foie gras in ice wine jelly.

I let the cold mold sit in a shallow bath of hot water for about 30 seconds. I knew from the test with the lime Jell-O that hot water did the trick in unmolding gelatine. But this gelatine was different--it was made of wine encapsulating a heavy interior mousse. I feared that the soft walls of gel would collapse without the support of the metal sides of the mold.

A plate was placed on top of the mold, the whole contraption inverted so the plate was on the counter and the mold on top. And then this gentle beauty slid out from its cover-
Gel Cook-Off 040.JPG

You can see a hint of something curious encased in the cocoon of ice wine jelly. And now the garnishes. First, a sprig of bay gently tucked underneath-
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A few spoonfuls of warm, not hot, wild huckleberry compote-
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And the bread-
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A touch of fresh thyme-
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#59 Mjx

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 10:56 PM

These are lovely, Dave, exactly the sort of thing that makes me love gelled things so much. Also, the pretty moulds inspired me to try to get my hands on some myself; mysteriously, nothing even remotely like this is to be found, hereabouts.

Any shots of the inside? Did the flavour/texture combination meet your expectations?

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
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#60 David Ross

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 05:19 AM

These are lovely, Dave, exactly the sort of thing that makes me love gelled things so much. Also, the pretty moulds inspired me to try to get my hands on some myself; mysteriously, nothing even remotely like this is to be found, hereabouts.

Any shots of the inside? Did the flavour/texture combination meet your expectations?

You know me too well. Yes, the next set of photos will portray the mold cut in half revealing the foie gras mousse and an individual serving. I would have to say I don't remember ever experiencing this type of texture combination. The pea/gel dish at Savoy had some interesting textures, but this was totally different. You have the soft jelly texture of the ice wine gel with the firm, buttery texture of the foie gras. In the same bite, you add the crisp texture of the bread and the texture of soft, warm huckleberries. It was incredible.





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