Recipe Repost: Jellied Waldorf Salad
Originally posted November 24, 2009
I approached Jellied Waldorf Salad with some trepidation. I’m not especially fond of Waldorf salad anyway, nor really any salad that combines sweet and savory ingredients. I find them disturbingly ambiguous, and prefer a salad to be either straight-on vegetables with a simple dressing of oil, vinegar, pepper, and maybe some grated cheese, or a nice fruit salad suitable for breakfast or a summer dessert. I figured, if Waldorf salad is disturbing on its own, it will be even more so in the form of a Jell-O dish.
In a way that was almost soothing, this was boringly easy to make. I had bought a bag of Trader Joe’s “baking walnuts” (i.e., pre-chopped) so the only prep work was chopping the celery and an apple, and the apple didn’t even need to be peeled. (Thank goodness.) I made a batch of orange Jell-O, chilled it over an ice water bath until it was very thick, folded in the chunky ingredients, and poured it all into a pre-lubed mold. The only weirdness was that while the recipe said to pour it into a four-cup mold, the whole thing seemed to fit nicely into a two-cup mold. That was all right – that meant it would be smaller and easier to eat.
Since I used my straight-sided mold, it was easy to slide a knife around the outside to loosen it, and it unmolded without the need of a hot water bath. It always does my heart good to have a mold turn out without a pool of melted gelatin in the bottom of the plate. As you can see, it looks pretty crunchy-granola, but it set up nice and firm, and it was easy to cut off pieces for Bryan and me to try.
First of all, I have to say that it isn’t nearly as bad as we were expecting. It turned out like a sort of fruit-and-nut aspic, with the Jell-O serving mainly to bind together the apple, celery, and walnuts. I diced the celery fairly fine, so it wasn’t’t very assertive but mostly complemented the apple chunks. Jell-O is certainly less objectionable when it’s dominated by “real food” ingredients, and the whole thing had a healthful texture and flavor, in kind of a good way. Even better, the Jell-O I used was sugar-free, so I’ll probably be having this for breakfast for a couple of days.
The recipe says you can serve this with mayonnaise thinned with honey, but that, Bryan said, would have made it really nasty. My one real regret here is that there’s no “presentation.” The recipe says to serve it on a bed of greens, and I didn’t even do that. This leaves it confusingly “bi-.” It’s not exactly a dinner salad but it’s not exactly “desserty” either. It tasted fine and all, but this stuff just bugs me.
Bryan pointed out that it’s a bit like charoset, a dish made for the Passover seder that represents the mortar with which the Jewish slaves worked in Egypt before Moses led them into the desert. I’m thinking my faithful readers might want to be sure to tune in sometime between 30 March 2010 and 6 April 2010 to see where I end up going with that...
October 1, 2017, ETA: The inclusion of orange Jell-O makes this an Orange Boycott post, and donations will be duly made to Planned Parenthood and the International Rescue Committee. Given everything that’s been happening lately, I’ll also be making a contribution to the One America Appeal for hurricane relief.
Memory Lane: Coffee Cream Dessert
And here we are, back to Memory Lane, or, in this case, Lack-of-Memory Lane. Coffee Cream Dessert was not at all memorable. Neither the photo nor my notes ring any bells, recollection-wise, and they didn’t inspire me to remake this one, either.
I gave myself a relatively easy Jell-O week, because I knew I’d be attending the March for Science on April 22. The Boston march was more of a rally, after the Women’s March in January showed that funneling a demonstration on the Common out to a march on the streets of Boston is a tricky and time-consuming proposition. Instead, community groups, mainly at the universities, marched to the Common for the rally. This time, Bryan and I weren’t with a group, so we just ambled over the Charles in our own time, and Bryan enjoyed the marching band that played before the speakers started at 2:00. (I myself am neutral on marching bands.)
As if to underscore one of the points of the rally, the weather we had yesterday was colder and considerably less pleasant than the weather at the January march. It rained as the Common filled up with rally-goers, and temperatures in the mid-40s Fahrenheit (mid-single-digits celcius) made for perfect Reynaud’s conditions. I’m glad we went, but I had to leave early when I couldn’t feel my hands anymore.
It’s been great seeing all the pictures from the marches around the world, but at the same time it’s a little disheartening that so many of us feel it’s necessary to do this. Also, it feels a bit quixotic, since the world leaders making non-fact-based policy decisions don’t seem to care.
At least this week’s Jell-O is an Orange Boycott recipe, so I’ll be sending a few shekels to the International Rescue Committee and Planned Parenthood, and hopefully that will do some good.
My notes on Coffee Cream Dessert use the word “weird” repeatedly, which makes sense. The base of this one is orange Jell-O, but it’s prepared like a “frappe” rather than a standard gelatin dessert. The gelatin powder is combined in a blender with scalded milk, sugar, and instant coffee granules until the gelatin is dissolved, and then ice and vanilla extract are added and blended until the ice is melted. It needs only a short time to set before serving, so the whole thing can be made quickly, which seems to be the chief virtue of this recipe.
The instant coffee (the book recommends Maxwell House, Sanka, or Yuban) posed a bit of a problem, since we at Freak Mountain look down our collective nose at instant coffee (except for instant espresso, which is handy for baking, and a brilliant addition to brownies). I wanted to use Maxwell House, but Bryan couldn’t find a small jar of it. I didn’t indicate what I did use, so I’m guessing it was probably instant espresso.
Anyway, the combination of orange Jell-O and coffee seems to have been sub-optimal, creating an odd flavor and aftertaste. Do coffee and orange ever go together? A quick Google search suggests that this is, indeed, a done thing – although given that one of the top hits is this cocktail recipe from Sandra Lee‘s “Semi-Homemade Cooking” program on Food Network, I’m seriously doubting the credibility of the concept.
This is another of those recipes that make me want to try to do a proper coffee jelly. I know I keep saying that, so I guess the pressure is mounting. Looking at my editorial calendar, I think I may be able to get to it in the summer. For the time being, I’m still trying to make a habit of practicing the guitar. After all, I’m going to need something to do when I’m done cooking through The New Joys of Jell-O – and I will, at some point in the foreseeable future, be done with it…
Memory Lane: Zesty Ginger-Fruit Dessert
Get your hiking boots on – we’re back to Memory Lane.
Once again, I have no specific memory of this recipe, similar as it is to a few other ginger-ale/orange Jell-O combos. I’ve never cared much for artificial orange flavor, and this election season has given me a downright aversion to that bright orange color. (Shouldn’t an alleged billionaire be able to afford a better grade of fake tan?)
Yes, I’m back to stressing about the election. This year, for the first time, my state is allowing early voting, and it started October 24. Last week (on Hillary Clinton’s birthday), I went and voted at lunchtime, and despite low expectations, I felt a lot better. I’d done what was in my power to do. I tweeted this photo with the message “Suck it, Trump!” The polls were showing Clinton with a solid lead, and it seemed as though a crisis had been averted.
Then last Friday Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah and part-time Eddie Munster impersonator) sent out his misleading tweet about the Comey memo, and we were back in the swamp. The more liberal-leaning media have characterized as “a nothingburger” the FBI’s decision to resume the Clinton email investigation with whatever might be found on Huma Abedin’s computer, and it’s hard to imagine something like this swaying a lot of undecided voters at this point, but polls are showing Clinton’s lead narrowing. Eager as I am at this point to see Election Day come and go, it’s hard to see how things are going to get better as of November 9. Either we end up with a Trump presidency (god forbid) or Clinton wins by a narrow margin and the people who are convinced that “the system is rigged” refuse to accept the election results – and even if no one attempts “a Second Amendment solution”, Republicans in the legislature will most likely continue the obstructionism they’ve been practicing under President Obama.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a time when I so badly wanted to just be sedated until it’s all over, and I’m getting a little desperate in my attempts to keep my spirits up. I just discovered the face-altering feature in Snapchat, and I’ve been cracking myself up taking selfies of me as a bat, a drag queen, a pug dog. Face swap with random photos on my phone is also a hoot, though Bryan really doesn’t like the one I did with his picture. I think he’s getting a little worried about me.
At least I’m still carrying on with the Jell-O.
Although I have no memory of Zesty Ginger-Fruit Salad, I do still have notes. It was number 53, just a few recipes before the original Project came to a screeching halt. I doubt this one was one of the last straws, though.
This was a pretty simple one, though apparently not as quick to make as I was expecting, just orange Jell-O made with ginger ale, and grapefruit and orange pieces. I was dubious that this Jell-O salad would be “zesty”, and indeed I wound up deeming it “fairly inoffensive”, a “breakfast Jell-O”. The grapefruit cut the sweetness of the Jell-O (always a good thing), but the orange pieces were too pithy. It got me thinking about online acquaintance* and loyal reader Jack, who lives in California and is fortunate to have a number of citrus trees on his property. This would have been so much better with fresh citrus.
This weekend I have a relatively pleasant Jell-O recipe to make. It’s good to have things to look forward to…
* I hope he’s okay with this qualification. I’ve never met him in person.
Virgin Recipe: Orange Parfait
Note: I woke up this morning to the news about the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Like so many others, I’m shocked and saddened, and feeling pessimistic about my country when it seems like there will never be a number of deaths high enough to get us to finally declare “enough is enough”. If this has cast a pall over Orange Parfait, I apologize. The show must go on…
If I may, I’d like to start with this photo from the book. There are so many things wrong with it. The ugly two-page spread is the least of it. (And how sad is it that even with a book like this I can’t bring myself to break the binding?) The cheerful demeanor of the family seems all out of proportion. Dad needs a haircut. The Orange Parfait that they’re pretending to enjoy so much bears little resemblance to mine, and I think Mom must have doubled or tripled the recipe to get that much Jell-O in five tall parfait glasses. But the thing that chiefly strikes me is the fact that the three kids are half-finished with their dessert while Mom and Dad haven’t had a chance to dig in their spoons yet. In my family, that would have been considered rude; Dad would be yelling, red-faced with a vein throbbing visibly in his temple, and at least one of those children would be crying.
But enough nostalgia. Outside of my imagined family scene. Orange Parfait is actually okay, easy to make and easy to eat, though I must admit that I did not entirely trust the recipe, and made a few modifications. The key ingredients are orange Jell-O, “orange sections”, chopped apple, and Dream Whip. The recipe calls for a half cup of each of the fruits, which doesn’t sound like enough, and a half-cup of orange sections sounds peculiar, so I cut the orange sections into chunks. Orange Parfait á la Freak Mountain therefore includes one navel orange, sectioned and cut into chunks, and one half of a large apple (Honeycrisp), chopped.
The Dream Whip was another minor challenge. The recipe calls for a half-cup, but a packet of Dream Whip yields two cups of whipped topping according to the directions on the box. I am dubious about that claim, but it’s definitely more than a half cup. So let’s say the quantity of Dream Whip is one envelope prepared per directions. After all, there’s no such thing as too much whipped topping.
Then there was the Jell-O. Oh, General Foods, you sneaky Petes… They tried to fool me into thickening it by adding ice instead of cold water. I don’t know, some people like that technique, but for me that trick never works. I dumped a two-cup measuring cup full of ice into the hot Jell-O, and it immediately started melting at an alarming rate. I pulled out what little unmelted ice there was left after a scant minute, and the Jell-O was still quite liquid, so I ended up thickening it over an ice-water bath anyway.
While I was making this, I kept thinking about more delectable parfaits, trifles, tiramisu…. Of course, the beauty of a simple parfait dessert like this is that it’s highly adaptable, and you can just layer your favorite ingredients in a glass and really enjoy your dessert. This dessert as given in The New Joys of Jell-O isn’t at all bad, though. As you can see from the photo, it looks quite nice. I did find myself wishing I had some Cool Whip, because it’s much easier to make photogenic dollops with that than with Dream Whip. Bryan prefers the taste of Dream Whip, however, while I’m pretty neutral when it comes to non-cream whipped dessert toppings.
For eating it was fine. Bryan said he didn’t like the “crunchy bits”, but I thought the combination of textures was acceptable. The photo shows the actual yield of the recipe (tall glasses for Mum and Dad, and smaller ones for the kiddos) and we managed to eat it all – the tall glasses after supper last night, and the small ones with breakfast this morning. If I were going all-out to pretend it was a fancy dessert, I would have served this with some crisp almond cookies, which would have nicely rounded out the flavors and textures.
I found myself wondering if kids still like this sort of thing. I mean, when I was a kid, a dish of Jell-O was a rather “meh” dessert, but I think I would have been impressed by a layered parfait like this. Of course, everything was simpler 40 years ago, wasn’t it?
Virgin Recipe: Frosty Mandarin Dessert
For my first Jell-O back, I thought I’d ease into things with a simple one. Frosty Mandarin Dessert has three ingredients (not including water): orange Jell-O, a tin of mandarin orange slices, and a pint of orange sherbet. That’s a lot of orange.
Since the regular marketing is not one of my household tasks, I always get a bit of a kick out of going to the supermarket. It’s weird how things can change in a few months. Suddenly there are a lot more varieties of Cheerios. (“Dark Chocolate Cheerios mixed with Peanut Butter Cheerios. I’d eat that,” Bryan announces.*) Soda containers shrink, familiar logos change, new products turn up.
It turns out that mandarin orange pieces still come in 11 oz. cans as the recipe requires. Reading the label, we found that the can of oranges was a “product of China”, which I guess makes them authentic. Out of curiosity, I read some other labels, and discovered that most of our tinned fruit comes from Asia, with the notable exception of a jar of maraschino cherries that were proudly “made in the U.S.A.” There’s something a little off about going to a New England supermarket and finding prepackaged apple bits made in Thailand.
The sherbet was another story. I don’t know if sherbet is now considered a “summer thing” or if it’s just going out of fashion, but I could only find Friendly’s watermelon sherbet (my favorite as a kid) and Hood orange, both in quart sizes only. Oh well. If my mother was making this recipe in 1974 she would have gone for the Hood orange, so chalk up another point for authenticity.
The preparation was unremarkable – make a double batch of Jell-O, melt the sherbet into it, chill until thick, add the orange bits, chill until firm. That old story.
So, it turns out that I’m no Hemingway or Kerouac when it comes to drinking and writing. For one thing, I’m a small female person, not a manly man. For another, I don’t have nearly the practice drinking that either of them did. It’s kind of embarrassing how little alcohol it takes to leave me with a miserable hangover the next day, especially now that I’m older. (This seems to be a common complaint about aging.) If there’s one thing Jell-O is not, it’s hangover food. I had to fortify myself with a nice cheese-and-pickle-on-rye sandwich before tasting Frosty Mandarin Dessert.
No surprise, this one is pretty meh. It’s that artificial orange flavor. It’s offensively inoffensive, sort of like the shitty pop music they play at my gym. It’s supposed to be something everyone likes, so nobody really likes it. I can’t account for the wide disparity between the picture in the book and how mine turned out. Orange sherbet is quite light in color, so I certainly didn’t expect it to darken the Jell-O, but that’s what happened. Life is just full of surprises.
Meanwhile, we have half a quart of sherbet left over in the freezer, which should come in handy if either of us gets sick…
* Just to confirm, as of this writing, my husband is 51 years old. Not five.
Recipe Reboot: Orange Chiffon Pie
Well, I’m a couple of recipes behind on my schedule, but I had Orange Chiffon Pie pending (should have published last week) so I decided to get my tuchis in gear and do it today in honor of Pi Day.
If you’re not a nerdy sort, pi is the number 3.141592653…… (we don’t know yet exactly how many numbers there are after the decimal, hence the nerd interest), which is used to calculate the area of a circle. Therefore, the nerd community has declared March 14 to be Pi Day. Today is an extra special Pi Day because it’s 3/14/15, and this morning we experienced a most auspicious moment at 3/14/15 9:26:53. Woo!
The preparation of the Orange Chiffon Pie was marked by a surfeit of caution. This is a variant of the Lemon Chiffon Pie, and I didn’t want to repeat my mistake of overcooking the egg yolk mixture. I’m afraid I may not have cooked it enough. I managed not to beat the egg whites until they were too stiff and dry this time, and they seemed to fold well into the egg yolk/Jell-O mixture.
Alas, the Jell-O mixture never quite firmed up enough to hold its shape as the pie was cut. It still tasted good, though, thanks to the orange rind and real orange juice.
Alas again, I forgot to take a picture of the pie. However, I did shoot a short video. I’m getting better at editing them, but seem to be getting worse at making myself presentable enough to stand in front of the camera. A smear of Dream Whip (which I used to garnish the pie) on my sweater seems to reflect the light. I’m going to have to make a habit of wearing an apron when I cook. Cripes, I’m getting old…
Recipe Repost: Orange Snow
Originally posted September 21, 2009
Note: In honor of Blizzard Juno… er, Juno the Blizzard…. (I do not approve of the new practice of naming winter storms) I bring you Orange Snow. Always remember the sage advice of Frank Zappa, “Watch out where the huskies go…”
Finally, a recipe that makes me smile! This one has a lot going for it. It has mostly real, simple ingredients – orange jello, orange juice, a little orange zest, and an egg white. It’s delightfully light and fluffy. It even tastes good, like orange sherbet.
It was fun to make. I prepared the jello, dissolving the gelatin in a cup of boiling water. I added the juice and zest, and cooled it over an ice water bath until it was “slightly thick.” In jello parlance this means “about the same consistency as a raw egg white,” so it’s a good thing I had one handy for comparison. At this point, I had to add the egg white to the jello and, still over the ice water bath, I beat it all up to a lovely thick froth using another of our antique market finds, a 56-year-old Sunbeam Mixmaster Junior. Per the recipe, I piled the froth lightly into my Blue Heaven custard cups (and a parfait glass – there was a lot of froth there) and popped it all into the fridge. The next day, there it was, Orange Snow.
It had about the same texture as hair mousse, which I found kind of fun, and as I said, the flavor was actually quite pleasant. I would guess that this was helped in large part by the fact that about half of the orange juice was fresh-squeezed (from the orange I had zested.) Bryan ate it without any of the usual pissing and moaning, although he didn’t want seconds. This was ready on Sunday, and I ended up eating the rest of it over the course of the day. There was so much air in it that it wasn’t very filling, and the real beauty part is that it was largely guilt-free. The Jell-O was sugar free (because that was all the market had for orange Jell-O when I bought it) and the other ingredients were orange juice and an egg white; in other words, breakfast.
Bryan’s Variation: Use lemon jello, substitute lemonade for the orange juice and lemon zest for the orange zest. Call it Yellow Snow.