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David Ross

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

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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'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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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 (log)

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

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

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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.


And I want a table for two and a chicken for eight o'clock.

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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.

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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.

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