To make a dazzling display at any dinner or lunch, serve a shimmery, splendorous aspic. (What’s an aspic? A savory, rather than sweet, gelatin encasing meats, fish, vegetables or fruit.)
Ours are no wispy dishes for ladies only — most, like the Boeuf en Gelée, below, are hearty main courses the whole family will love.
Don’t be intimidated by the elaborate appearance of these aspics, for you can make them without fuss (and without losing your cool, even on the hottest summer day).
You might begin with our Do-Nothing Aspics, made by melting and pouring canned aspics into a ring mold and then filling the center with a hearty meat, seafood or vegetable salad. Next, you can tackle slightly more advanced productions like the ones pictured here.
Aspic dish photos (left to right):
Nothing halfhearted about this classic main-dish aspic composed of roast beef, plus thin, thin slices of onions and carrots in a beef, sherry and herb-flavored aspic. Turn it out of the mold as we did here: it’s Boeuf en Gelée. It’s also perfectly proper to serve it directly from the mold as the French often do — just call it “Boeuf en Terrine.”
Balls of cream cheese rolled in pistachio nuts and tucked in apricot halves peer through this golden aspic. The gelatin, made with apple juice and ginger ale, is so good we heaped more, like crushed topazes, in the center. It’s an unusual salad, satisfying enough to be a luncheon main dish.
As an entrée for a summer luncheon or to begin a little dinner party any time of the year, serve Eggs in Aspic like these. Absolute simplicity to make- no more than lightly poached eggs nestled in a gelatin made of chicken consommé flavored with tarragon vinegar and topped with tarragon leaves. If you can’t find fresh leaves, use the sprigs that come in a bottle of tarragon vinegar.
RECIPE FOR INSTANT TOMATO RING WITH SHRIMP SALAD
Canned aspics are made with pectin rather than gelatin. They take and hold their shape at (cool) room temperature and can be sliced and served right out of the can. Here we’ve added chopped celery, onion, a trace of hot pepper. Assemble at the last moment or the aspic may “weep.”
2 (13-oz.) cans tomato aspic
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 drops hot-pepper sauce
In a medium saucepan, gently heat cans tomato aspic with finely chopped celery, onions and 2 drops hot pepper sauce just until blended. Pour into a 4-cup ring mold. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1-1/2 hours (or 20 to 30 minutes in freezer) until set.
Shrimp salad recipe
1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped cooked shrimp (3/4 lb.)
1/4 cup finely-chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 hard-cooked egg, chopped
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Th. cider vinegar
Sprigs of watercress
In a medium bowl, combine coarsely chopped cooked shrimp (3/4 pound), 1 chopped hard-cooked egg, finely chopped onion, salt and pepper. Stir in 3/4 cup mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon cider vinegar. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.
To serve: Unmold tomato aspic ring according to above directions. Fill center with shrimp salad. Garnish with watercress. Six servings.
RECIPE FOR BEET ASPIC WITH CUCUMBERS
The cucumbers may tend to lose some water when they’re cut, so be sure to drain them before you add the sour cream, which goes in only at the very last moment.
If you’re feeling adventurous — and slightly Scandinavian — you might like to substitute 2 (8-oz.) jars of herring in sour cream tossed with M cup diced apples for the cucumber salad in the center of the aspic.
2 cups cucumber, cut in matchstick strips
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
In a small bowl, blend powdered gelatin with consommé madriléne. Let stand 5 minutes. Dissolve over hot (not boiling) water. In a large bowl blend with remaining can consommé madriléne, 1 (1 pound) can julienne beets, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 tablespoon horseradish, drained. Pour into a 5-cup ring mold. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours (or 30 minutes in the freezer by the timer), or until set.
To serve: Unmold the ring mold onto a large flat platter, following above directions. Fill the center with cucumber salad made by combining 2 cups of cucumber cut in matchstick strips with 1 tablespoon chopped onion, 1-3 teaspoon salt and is teaspoon pepper. Blend in 1 cup sour cream and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Makes 6 servings.