Showing posts with label jello. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jello. Show all posts

Friday, June 17, 2011

Recettes Secrètes: Prosecco Gelée

On the next episode of my podcast The Table Set, Andy, Greg and I discuss amuse-bouche, apertifs, and how to properly start a party. Since I am a lover of Prosecco and any cocktail you can eat, this recipe immediately came to mind. Conceived by pastry chef Catherine Schimenti and originally printed by the LA Times, here I adapted this a very easy, unique, and festive way to open an elegant meal.

Prosecco Gelée

1 (6-inch) length of a vanilla bean
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons (2 packets) unflavored gelatin powder
12 ounces Prosecco

Pour sugar into a small jar. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the sugar, add pod, lid jar and shake vigorously to mix thoroughly. Remove pod and add the vanilla sugar to 3/4 cup water in a medium saucepan. Heat over moderately high heat until the sugar dissolves and the syrup almost comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water to soften, 1 to 2 minutes. Fold into the warm simple syrup and stir constantly until the gelatin is dissolved.

Carefully pour the Prosecco into the saucepan, and stir gently but quickly to combine. Pour the gelée mixture into molds or an 8-by-8-inch square cake pan lined with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely set, preferably overnight. To serve, carefully remove the gelée from the molds (use the tip of a knife to loosen each shot) or, if using a cake pan, cut the gelée into 1-inch squares. Serve cold. To really make an impression, garnish with edible 24K gold flakes.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Carnish Culture: The Jelly Mongers

From a scale jelly airport model (with jelly planes) to glow-in-the-dark jellies to an entire Christmas feast made from jelly, and with clients the likes of Gordon Ramsey, the young Mr. Bompas and Mr. Parr, students of Eton and University College, London are well beyond revolutionizing common Jell-O molds, they're elevating it to Art.
"We know from history that jellies were once considered to be the pinnacle of sophistication,” Mr. Parr said. “They were used as very lavish centerpieces, the way marzipan and sugar were used, but then jelly became corrupted by children’s parties.”
This New York Times article and slide show showcase Bompas & Parr's quick rise to culinary/Art stardom, while their website just plain makes me jellous I didn't think of this stuff sooner! They design three-dimensional models on a computer, eventually producing the custom molds in high-impact polystyrene plastic. But concocting tasty flavor profiles and gorgeous pigments are a bulk of the work, not to mention engineering and chemistry (after successfully making jelly glow blue with quinine, the boys are on to experiments like growing crystals inside the jelly).You may recall my post last year on the rise of chewable cocktails, and Bompas & Parr are no rookies there, since taking private commissions they've made Courvoisier jellies for their Future 500 party and layered Campari and orange jellies for Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s “Manifesto of Futurism” 100th Anniverasary celebration. The Jelly Boys were gracious to share these Campari and Orange jelly recipes with the NYTimes, which you may layer or simply serve together for wobbly alchoholic delight.But their current project really knocks my socks off, taking the evolving cocktail to a WHOLE new level.. If you find yourself in London this month, be sure to check out Alcoholic Architecture, Bompas & Parr’s walk-in cloud of breathable cocktail ("Step inside a cocktail with gin and tonic mist, giant limes, and massive straws"). Intrigued? You should be!
Have a jelly good time at

In other Jelly news, Image posted an article on "Art Salad: A Retrospective" about an artist (who as you read, must be an April Fool's joke, but OH were she real...):
"Ernestine Heink-Crupsenpeltier's (1913–2001) decades-long exploration of the art salad established her as a progenitor and chief exponent of covered dish minimalism... Featuring over four hundred works, both sacred and secular, the exhibition represents a broad cross-section of twentieth-century Jell-O salad art. The show will include the artist's early series, Icons, as well as her shocking and still powerful Lime Jell-O with Baloney Strips and Roman Soldier... After exhausting the themes introduced in her early works, such as her pained, exulting, and deeply personal interrogation of motherhood, Angel in the House (apricot Jell-O, banana slices, baby teeth, and iron filings), Heink-Crupsenpeltier entered a more purely formal period, one that made her an art-world household name and brought Jell-O works out of the realm of Outsider Art and into the mainstream. Prominent among these mid-career works is the cerebral but quietly devotional Shape #4 (black Jell-O and hard-boiled eggs)... Her late masterpiece, a performance salad entitled Jell-O-rod-E-o, (featuring strawberry Jell-O, cranberry Jell-O, tapioca, gold-leaf see-saw, Cyndi Lauper, and military band) will be presented at the exhibition opening on Saturday, May 2, at 8:00 p.m."
Thanks Mom, for all the Jelly tips!
Photos via the New York Times

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Jury Duty Dining: Inside the Downtown Lunch Scene

"Wow, way to take lemons and make lemonade, Nathan.."
I smiled, looking out of the plate glass lobby of the Walt Disney Concert Hall at a bride awkwardly discharging tulle out of a vintage limo door on the other side.
"Well hey," I retorted into my phone, turning toward the escalator to underground parking. "If I am going to be forced to spend a whole week or more in downtown LA with generous hour and a half lunch breaks, you can BET I will take advantage and at least get a decent blog story out of it." It was day three and I had already covered several downtown neighborhoods and classic LA dining establishments. I was officially on a jury panel in Judge Ito's courtroom and opening statements had been made. Ito guestimated a "couple day" trial, but I was prepared to be around for a while. Luckily downtown LA is one of my favorite sectors that I don't visit nearly enough. Thus I was excited for the challenge to diversify my generous lunch break each day and sample the best of what the civic center has to offer.
On day one I was a bit anxious come lunch as I was to report to a different courthouse after my break for a jury panel selection. Nervous about being late, I just followed the suits to the nearby CPK where I knew I could score a cold pint to calm my nerves. After lunch I walked through the sublevels of the California Plaza adjacent the MOCA and found everywhere I should have eaten, including the "wine country-inspired eco-artisan" Mendocino Farms Sandwiches & Marketplace barracaded by a mob of menu-wrinkling accountants. I picked up a small cup of green tea ice cream at the eurasian-vibed convenience store Famima!! and made my way back to the courthouse.
The next morning started with a long unplanned coffee break, which I filled with a piping cup of champurrado on nearby Olvera Street. Growing up less than an hour from Mexico, I understand that Olvera is touristy yes, but still a great place in LA to score some authentic cuisine, and actually introduced me to the rich frothy masa harina, chocolate, and cinnamon breakfast beverage champurrado - a hearty new favorite of mine.
By lunch I had a new friend and she insisted on introducing me to the world famous Phillipe The Original, self-proclaimed originator of the "french-dipped sandwich." Entering this madhouse took me back in time, one long deli counter runs the length, fronted by a battalion of sandwich-makin' matrons in 50's waitress smocks and paper diner hats doling out trays to one of some 12 long lines of hungry downtowners. Anticpation mounted in the line as I shifted on the sawdust covered concrete floor, deciding between sandwich meat; mayonnaise-based side salads; and kosher pickled items on the side.. I ended up with an au jus-logged pork french dip with swiss, paprika dusted old fashioned potato salad, bright purple pickled egg, a sweet pickle and arnie palmer to drink. Possibly the most satisfying of my lunches all week, I was ready to get back in line for sampling #2 when my fellow juror and I realized we were running late. I will SOON return my fair Phillipe..
Day three brought me back to square one, as my new friend was dismissed from the panel and the jury was locked. I decided that today I would take a longer walk to South Main and Winston, a block down from Pete's Cafe and the hip Old Bank DVD to Vietnamese hot spot Blossom Restaurant. I snagged a patio table out front and immediately had an iced coffee with condensed milk and menu in front of me, waitress asking what I'd like. They obviously were used to the lunch rush here. I ordered the lemongrass steak and eggroll Bún (cold vermicelli rice noodle bowl). Within minutes I was chopstick-deep into one of the most delicious peanut-dusted cilantro-heavy Bún bowls I've ever had. I routinely enjoy Silverlake's Pho Café, but in the future might venture downtown more often for my Shaking Beef.
Since Jurors get into MOCA free with their badge, I decided after we were released at 4pm to make the most of my plan-free evening. After checking out the fantastic Martin Kippenberger Retrospective at the MOCA on Main, I continued on to his massive "Problem Perspective" installation at the MOCA Geffen Contemporary space in Little Tokyo, coupled with a colossal group show Index: Conceptualism in California from the Permanent Collection. I left filled to the brim; a daze that took me back to art school reviews, so I quelled myself in the Japanese Village Plaza with mindless shopping for cheap household goods at Tokyo Japanese Outlet and a dinner grocery stop at Nijiya Market, one of my favorite food shops that I affectionately refer to as the "Trader Joe's of Asian Markets." I skipped them that night, but Fugetsu-do and Mikawaya are also two essential stops in the neighborhood, sweet shops specializing in Mochi that have been operating since 1903 and 1910 respectively.
On day four I returned to Olvera Street for the food.. Most locals know to pass up the over-priced sit-down restaurants and head straight for the hole-in-the-wall counter spots that get lost among the cluttered vendor booths. Though corner mast Cielito Lindo is arguably the most popular of these, and though I usually visit La Noche Buena for my taquito, tamale and jamaica fix, Juanita's charming vendor who sold me on the champurrado earlier in the week brought me back for what may have been the best tangy guacamole sauce covered taquito combo plate on the street yet.
Finally, deliberation day had come, and I knew I had to use my last lunch wisely. There were so many places I had not tasted yet: Señor Fish's new downtown location, The Redwood Bar's infamous burger, historic French bistro Angelique Café, or my favorite hidden gem in Little Tokyo - the yellow-awned Daikokuya on First Street serving up the best ramen in LA. But history trumped taste buds today and I ventured down old Broadway all the way to 8th Street to finally see the eccentric Granddaddy of all cafeterias, Clifton's. The redwood forested interior was delightfully dated, though the clientele were less inviting than I'd hoped, and actually caused me to check to make sure I still had my wallet. I went through with it though and moved down the line with my warm damp tray, camping it up with a carrot/raisin slaw, Americana enchiladas, spanish rice, jello, and horchata "with fruit". I settled into a table on a terraced forest step and watched the REAL downtown LA dine in front of me in all its glory. The food was.. well, cafeteria food. The fruit was a nice addition to standard horchata however. The big kick came in the form of a cube of jello. Now, I got the opaque white jello with yellow shreds thinking "festive piña colada?" No, it was not. I chewed the first bite unable to detect a flavor. Bites two and three kept me guessing. But the shreds definitely were not coconut or pineapple.. rather a little waxy. It was official this was not a sweet jello. So what WAS it? It hit me with a sickening gulp that I was eating a flavorless white gelatin filled with bland shredded American cheese. I set down my fork, gathered my belongings and left Clifton's then, happy to limit our historic affair to viewing the kitschy vintage postcards on their website.
"Part of me is a little sad," I said into the phone as the bride outside beamed for the photographer. "I've been enjoying this surreal metropolitan urban life. Like I could become a public defender, get a refurbished loft and never look back." After a pause, my friend started laughing, and before I knew it I was too.
'Til next time, downtown...