As a host
and hostess gift for an imminent house party, we bought the coolest antique
molds. Both of us thought they were charming, and knew our hosts would love
small, rectangular molds, each with a barn swallow embossed at the bottom. We
both love swallows, a bird that reminds us of a magical day in San Gimignano,
Italy, when the noon bells in many churches in that ancient fortified city began
to ring. Suddenly, the sky above the silent and empty street was filled with the
sonorous roar and clattering tintinnabulation... and startled swallows! They
poured from the belfries to glide and swoop elegantly across the cerulean blue
memory clinched it; we couldn’t part with the intended gift. No one besides us was
getting those molds. We returned to the antiques shop and found another gift.
getting home, Mark said he wanted to use them to make molded tomato aspic.
know; that old-fashioned dish served at ladies' summer luncheons? Adult Jell-O
Jigglers? He had an unexpected craving. Perhaps it was stirred by memories of
aspic, when, in his childhood, chestnut-breasted swallows nested annually among
the beams of the old carriage house out back.
gone quite a distance from its origins, now that commercially-prepared gelatin
is regularly available.
first made in the late 1300s, marrow bones were rendered to create a gelatin
that was used to encase meats, poultry and vegetables into a loaf bound
together by the semi-clear, flavorful, aspic.
"aspic" alone brings crinkled faces (even from people who have never
there are some not-so-wonderful variations out there, made with lemon or lime
Jell-O, or with a cream cheese layer, or dolloped with an ill-chosen commercial
for the standard served at a 1940s ladies' luncheon, we found we love it!
cool and refreshing on a hot summer day, and makes for an elegant first course
or, yes, a light lunch, with or without the ladies in hats.
our spiced version. Plain is lovely, too - you can simply omit whatever spices
you wish or lack, to suit your taste.
tomato juice (low sodium is fine)
envelope unflavored powdered gelatin
zest if 1
teaspoons fresh lemon juice
teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
teaspoon dark brown sugar
teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce, optional
teaspoon dried ground mustard
teaspoon ground Aleppo pepper or a pinch of cayenne
teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch Chinese five spice powder
pinch ground coriander
pinch ground allspice
large bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the tomato juice with the gelatin; let stand for
saucepan, combine the remaining ingredients except the olive oil and heat just
until simmering. Add the hot mixture to the gelatin mixture and stir until the
gelatin dissolves completely.
oil 4 molds or ramekins. Spoon gelatin mixture into the molds/ramekins,
and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
the aspics onto plates and serve garnished with
crisp lettuce or celery leaves. (If they don't unmold easily, dip the molds into hot tap water for 5-10 seconds and try again.)
Labels: aspic, spicy, tomato aspic, tomato juice