A Disquisition Upon Jello

Now if I had once thought that the garlic snails at the yearly NIOSA street food event were dubious eats, I had not had a chance to grok the full horror of the guacamole bird - it's the third one down. click here ... Finished shuddering yet? Good. You see, there is Jello and all the horrors that are perpetuated with it, and then there is just plain gelatin mixed with a variety of sweet or savory liquids and poured into an appropriate Jello mold.

There is the stuff whipped up by the staff of women's home magazines trying to catch the eyeballs (or stimulate the nausea reflex) and not coincidently sell more Jello... and of late there is the parody stuff (like the famous brain mold), and a lot of bizarre things put together for contests; I have heard of Jello aquariums with lettuce for seaweed and Goldfish crackers as... er, gold fish swimming in the pale green lime depths.

And then for those who favor less jokey and more toothsome variants of jellied edibles, there are desserts such as my mother's favorite - the wine-orange gelatin dessert, and my own yoghurt cream mold. Mom's was from the 1970s edition of Joy of Cooking, ( p. 745) "Wine Gelatin"

Soak 2 TBsp gelatin in ¼ cup cold water. Dissolve it in ¾ cup boiling water and stir in until dissolved, ½ cup sugar. Allow to cool and add 1 ¾ cup orange juice, 6 TBsp lemon juice and 1 cup well-flavored wine. Sugar amount may be adjusted if the orange juice and/or wine are sweet . Pour into sherbet glasses and chill until firm. Serve with cream, whipped cream or custard sauce. (It strikes me that this might be very nice with blood-orange juice and a nice rose wine)

My own favorite gelatin recipe - Yoghurt-Cream Dessert - was copied from a newspaper clipping (Stars and Stripes?) into a hand-written collection - no idea of where it might have come from before then, although I think there is an Italian sweet dessert something like it called ‘panna cotta'.

Soften 4 tsp unflavored gelatin in ¼ cup cold water. Combine in a saucepan over low heat, 1 ½ cup heavy cream and ¼ cup sugar, stirring until cream is warm and sugar dissolves. Add softened gelatin and stir until that dissolves also. Remove from heat, allow to cool, and stir in 2 ¼ cups plain unflavored yoghurt and 1 tsp vanilla. Pour into a 1-quart mold and chill for at least one hour. Un-mold and serve with fresh fruit or fruit compote.

I usually make a sauce of ¾ water, and 6 Tbsp water, cooked with about 1 cup of fresh blackberries until berries are softened and syrup slightly thickened. Then I add another cup of fresh raspberries and 2 Tbsp raspberry vodka.