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David Ross

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

66 posts in this topic

Borrowing again from the past, my second dish was based on a recipe I developed about 10 years ago-a marriage of all things delicious-vodka, tomato juice and oysters. I call it the "Bloody Mary Aspic."

I thought about encasing the oyster in the aspic, but given the ruddy color of tomato aspic, the natural shape of the oyster wouldn't be visible. I thought about putting a little mold of aspic next to the oyster, but that didn't make sense because this is meant to be an oyster shooter-a one-shot gulp of oyster, aspic and Bloody Mary flavors. The next question was a simple one-how to garnish the oyster and the aspic. So relying on some people who know food, they simply pointed out what the traditional garnish is for a Bloody Mary-celery.

The recipe starts with the basic two-step aspic process. First, I made a hot mixture of spicy tomato juice. The hot mixture was then blended into a cool mixture composed of gelatine and tiny diced vegetables. The ingredients are-

IMG_0048.JPG

1 cup V8 Juice

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/3 cup chopped celery

1 tbsp. brown sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. dried red pepper flakes

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning

4 whole cloves

Combine in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes-

IMG_0053.JPG

While the first mixture is cooking, in another bowl combine-

2 envelopes unflavored gelatine

1/2 cup V8 Juice

1/2 cup clam juice

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup finely diced celery

1/2 cup vodka

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

1 tbsp. fresh ground black pepper

1 tbsp. finely diced fresh jalapeno

Salt to taste

IMG_0059.JPG

Strain the hot liquid into the second bowl and stir to combine-

IMG_0061.JPG

Pour the tomato aspic into individual serving molds, (or in this case, spread it thin on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Once the tomato aspic is chilled, you just scoop it off the cookie sheet and use it to garnish the oysters)-

IMG_0070.JPG

I used fresh Willapa Bay oysters that are harvested off the Oregon Coast. These little nuggets have a briny, salty, fresh sea taste-which pairs wonderfully with the spicy, rich, tang of the Bloody Mary Aspic-

IMG_0097.JPG

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As I move toward more contemporary dishes using gels, I need a few suggestions. Every Fall when the huckleberry crop shows its glory in our Farmer's Markets, one of the dishes I make is a batch of Huckleberry Compote. The Compote is incredibly delicious when paired with foie gras mousse and buttered brioche. The play of rich foie gras and tart, sweet huckleberries is a dish for the ages.

I'm thinking of changing things up from my traditional presentation-layers of Brioche Croutons topped with alternating layers of Foie Gras Mousse, (pressed in a ring mold), then a spoonful of Huckleberry Compote on top. You could say this is an upscale version of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But I think I can take it to a new level employing gel techniques.

Here's the traditional presentation-

Foie Gras.JPG

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?

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David, those oysters look so good. I want to slurp one down!

I don't have a single one of those pretty molds :(

I'm lucky to have kept the older molds through the generations. When I see something in the kitchenware store, I buy it. I often don't use the molds for their intended purpose-say pastry. Often these little molds are perfect for garnishes, side dishes--and Jell-O!

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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.


Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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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.

4475243514_a5afe71be2.jpg

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.

4396831484_667e629366_z.jpg

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.

5758702220_4276604168_z.jpg

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.

4213510811_8fecd83cfb.jpg

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.

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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?

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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.

eGullet member #80.

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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.

4475243514_a5afe71be2.jpg

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.

4396831484_667e629366_z.jpg

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.

5758702220_4276604168_z.jpg

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.

4213510811_8fecd83cfb.jpg

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.

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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.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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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.


"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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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.

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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.

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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!


"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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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.

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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.


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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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.

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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.



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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.

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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.........

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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.

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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.

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      eGullet Recipe Cook-Off Index

      Thanks to chrisamirault, every now and then since December 2004, a good number of us have been getting together over at the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off.

      The Cook-Off is intended to be a forum at which we all can cook the same dish and share our experiences in a non-competitive, collaborative manner, making a dish:
      that you've always wanted to make at home (and may enjoy out) but rarely have made, or haven't made successfully; for which special but locatable ingredients may be used, but for which expensive special equipment is not required; that includes techniques, ingredient combinations, or other elements that intrigue you; from a different cuisine than that of the previous Cook-Off dish; that demands some time and effort, but that rewards that effort for even those first approaching it; and that motivates you to try it out, ask questions, serve it to friends, and share photos and stories. As we cook and compare, some of us post our recipes on RecipeGullet, the eGullet Society's wonderful database of cooking ideas, instructions, and insight.

      Finally, thanks to the internet, remember that you're never too late for an eGullet Cook-Off. While all have a specific starting time, none have an end time, and there are many of us eager to see what you will do with the cook-off recipes. So don't hesitate to contribute if you're finding this thread weeks or months after its start: by posting your own ideas, questions, or results, you can bump activity back up on this thread in no time!

      We've created this index so all cook-offs are easy to find and join in. We'll keep it updated.

      Here is the list:
      Cook-Off 1: Cassoulet Cook-Off 2: Char Siu Bao Cook-Off 3: Gumbo Cook-Off 4: Lamb Curry Cook-Off 5: Fried Chicken Cook-Off 6: Pad Thai Cook-Off 7: Moussaka Cook-Off 8: Pizza Cook-Off 9: Mole Poblano Cook-Off 10: Meatloaf and Burgers Cook-Off 11: Ice Cream, Gelato, Sorbet, and Sherbet Cook-Off 12: Composed Salads Cook-Off 13: Fresh and Stuffed Pasta, including Gnocchi Cook-Off 14: Bibimbap Cook-Off 15: Chili Cook-Off 16: Potato Pancakes Cook-Off 17: Sausages Cook-Off 18: Asian Noodle Soups Cook-Off 19: Eggs, Beaten, With Stuff In Them Cook-Off 20: Chowdah/Chowder Cook-Off 21: Risotto Cook-Off 22: Tempura Cook-Off 23: Crêpes Cook-Off 24: Kebabs, Satays, & Skewers Cook-Off 25: Tamales Cook-Off 26: Soup Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao) Cook-Off 27: Daube Cook-Off 28: Mafé (Peanut Stew) Cook-Off 29: Posole/Pozole Cook-Off 30: Felafel/Falafel Cook-Off 31: Paella Cook-Off 32: Pickles Cook-Off 33: Cold Noodle Dishes Cook-Off 34: Ceviche Cook-Off 35: Pot-au-feu/Simmered Meat'n'Veg Cook-Off 36: Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Cook-Off 37: Croquettes Cook-Off 38: Feijoada Cook-Off 39: Tacos Cook-Off 40: Cold Soups Cook-Off 41: Jerk Cook-Off 42: Ratatouille Cook-Off 43: Braised Brisket Cook-Off 44: Ossobuco Cook-Off 45: Fries / Frites / Chips Cook-off 46: Enchiladas Cook-off 47: Asian Tofu Dishes Cook-off 48: Grilled Pizza Cook-off 49: Slaws Cook-Off 50: Lamb Stew Cook-Off 51: Chicken and Dumplings Cook-Off 52: Lasagna Cook-Off 53: Grilled Chicken Cook-Off 54: Gratins Cook-Off 55: Shrimp & Grits Cook-Off 56: Savory-Filled Pastry Cook-Off 57: Bolognese sauce Cook-Off 58: Hash Cook-Off 59: Cured, Brined, Smoked and Salted Fish Cook-Off 60: Banh Mi Cook-Off 61: Gels, Jell-O and Aspic Cook-Off 62: Squid, Calamari and Octopus Cook-Off 63: Summer Squash Cook-Off 64: Confit Cook-Off 65: Pork Belly Cook-Off 66: Rhubarb Cook-Off 67: Apples Cook-Off 68: Citrus Fruits Cook-Off 69: Beer Cook-Off  70: Shellfish Grilled Over an Open Flame Cook-Off 71: Winter Squash Cook-Off 72: Ramen 
    • By David Ross
      Welcome back to our popular eGullet Cook-Off Series. Our last Cook-Off, Hash, took us into a heated discussion of the meat of the matter--should it be chopped, hashed, sliced, diced, or chunked.
      Click here, for our Hash discussion, and the answers to all of your questions about this beloved diner staple. The complete eG Cook-Off Index can be found here. Today we’re launching eGullet Cook-Off 59: Cured, Brined, Smoked and Salted Fish.
      Drying fish is a method of preservation that dates back to Ancient times, but more recently, (let’s say a mere 500 years ago or so), salt mining became a major industry in Europe and salt was a fast and economical way of preserving fish. Curing agents like nitrates were introduced in the 19th century, furthering the safety and taste of preserved fish.
      Where I live in the Pacific Northwest, Native Americans have been preserving fish and seafood for millennia. While we are best known for our ruby-red, oily-rich, smoked salmon, other species of fish found in the Pacific and in our streams are delicious when cured and smoked including Halibut, Sablefish and Idaho Rainbow Trout. And don’t think that you can’t smoke shellfish, alder-smoked Dungeness Crab is a wondrous Pacific Northwest delicacy that evokes memories of crab roasting over a driftwood fire on the beach.
      Another method of preserving fish is to bath the beauties in a brine—a combination of water, sugar, salt and spices that adds flavor and moisture to fish before it is dried or smoked. And speaking of smoked fish, you can do it in a small pan on top of the stove, in a cast iron drum, a barbecue pit, an old woodshed or a fancy digital smoker. The methods and flavors produced by smoking fish are endless.
      Old-fashioned ways of preserving fish, (while adequate at the time), aren't always the best method today. Today's technology provides us with the tools to create cured fish that is moist, succulent, tender and with a hint of smoke. The Modernist movement has certainly played a role in bringing this age-old craft into the 21st century, so for the avant-garde in the crowd, show us your creative wizardry for preserving fish the "modern" way.
      Cured, Brined, Smoked or Salted, the art of preserving fish opens us up to limitless possibilities that transcend the boundaries of cuisine and culture. So let’s sew-up the holes in our fishnets, scrub the barnacles off the rowboat and set out to sea in search of some delectable fish to cure, brine, smoke and salt.
    • By David Ross
      Welcome back to a time-honored, cherished eG tradition, the eG Cook-Off Series. Today were venturing into a new world for Cook-Off's. Member Kerry Beal came forward with a Cook-Off idea we just couldn't pass up--Pork Belly--and inspired a new idea for future Cook-Off's. Knowing we're a community of great culinary minds, we'll be inviting the Members to send us ideas for potential future Cook-Off's, (more information to come later). Take it away Kerry and let's raid the larder and start cookin.
    • By David Ross
      Fall is but a whisper of the recent past--at least it is where I live in the upper reaches of Eastern, Washington. We had our first fluff of snow a week ago and a reasonable November storm is predicted for this weekend with temperatures holding at a chilly 18 degrees at night.
      Along with the rumblings of cold winter weather and Holiday feasts, we turn our culinary musings to time-treasured, comfortable dishes. And so I invite you to join me in another kitchen adventure--the inimitable eG Cook-Off Series. In 2013, we've tackled the tricky cooking of Squid, Calamari and Octopus and we made delicious dishes out of the humble Summer Squash.
      (Click here http://forums.egulle...cook-off-index/ for the complete eG Cook-Off Index).
      But today we're shunning all manner of counting calories, salt or fat content--for what is rich in flavor is good for the soul my dear friends. Please join me in crafting, nuturing and savoring a dish of Confit.
    • By David Ross
      Hello friends and welcome back to a time-honored tradition--the popular eG Cook-Off Series. We're in the heat of summer right now and our gardens are literally blooming with all manner of peak of the season ripe fruits and succulent vegetables. And there's no better time of year to honor a vegetable that is often maligned as not being as colorful or trendy as the chi-chi breakfast radish or the multi-hued rainbow chard.

      In addition to not always being recognized for it's looks, every August and September it becomes the butt of jokes at State Fair competitions across the country. If you can get past the embarassment of seeing the poor devils dressed up and carved into silly, cartoon-like farm figures or pumped-up with organic steroids, you'll find a delicious, low-calorie vegetable packed with potassium and vitamin A. Yes friends, your dreams have come true for today we kick-off eG Cook-Off #62, "Summer Squash."
      (Click here http://forums.egulle...cook-off-index/ for the complete eG Cook-Off Index).

      According to the University of Illinois Extension Office, summer squash, (also known in some circles as Italian marrow), are tender, warm-season vegetables that can be grown anytime during the warm, frost-free season. Summer squash differs from fall and winter squash, (like pumpkins, acorn and butternut squash), because it is harvested before the outer rind hardens. Some of the most popular summer squash are the Green and Yellow Zucchini, Scallop, Patty Pan, Globe, Butter Blossom and Yellow Crookneck.

      My personal favorite summer squash is the versatile zucchini. Slow-cooked with sliced onion and ham hock, zucchini is perfectly comfortable nestled on a plate next to juicy, fried pork chops and creamy macaroni and cheese. But the chi-chi haute crowd isn't forgotten when it comes to zucchini, or, as the sniffy French call it, the "courgette." Tiny, spring courgette blossoms stuffed with herbs and ricotta cheese then dipped in tempura batter and gently fried are a delicacy found on Michelin-Star menus across the globe.

      Won't you please join me in crafting some delicious masterpieces that showcase the culinary possibilities of delicious summer squash.
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