Thursday, January 26, 2012
Whimsical Retro and a Maple Creme
Open any of the old timey Southern Junior League cookbooks to the salad section, and you will get a primer on molded salads composed in a dozen permutations and all from a plain gelatin packet. I experimented a few posts back with a pomegranate juice mold, and to my delight it was a success. So I decided to try again, this time with cream and maple syrup. Another success, with the sweet taste of maple and the texture of a creamy tapioca. This will be on the menu for lunch at Miss Betsy's Imaginary Tearoom. I would serve it in on a bed of orange rounds garnished with mint leaves, and I would pour a dollop more of maple syrup on top.
I would have thought that nostalgia and tradition would have made these retro salads sacrosanct, but I was disabused of this idea when I discussed my experiments with gelatin with a friend who was raised in Milledgeville, in the heart of Georgia.
"Yuck" she said. Her mother made a pistachio mold for the Sunday after meeting lunch, and my friend, thinking of it, recalled adolescent days, tedious church services, and who knows what other deep and private associations that can ruin the appetite. I understand this. I cannot eat oatmeal . I smell it, and I see it burnt on the bottom of a large pot sitting in the sink of a drafty New Hampshire kitchen heated by a wood stove. Oatmeal every day. Served by my mother, with the pot cleaned by 12 year old me. Nor can I eat a combination of ground beef, tomato sauce, and green beans cooked in a crock pot, for it was another daily meal from two years of my youth when my family was temporarily poor and my only two dresses were handmade. Not every food memory is pleasant or benign-
If you want to make a maple creme use the standard Knox gelatin proportions:
4 envelopes of unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold half and half held in a separate bowl.
3 cups half and half, heated to boiling
1/2 cup maple syrup, more or less, depending on how sweet you want your creme to be. Taste and decide.
Heat the 3 cups of half and half to just boiling, then sprinkle gelatin over the cold 1/2 maple syrup mixture and let stand 1 minute. Then add hot half and half and stir until gelatin dissolves (5 minutes). Pour into one big mold or several small ones and chill in the refrigerator for several hours until set. Un- mold cremes by running a little hot water over the bottom of the mold.