Saturday, July 9, 2011
What do you think of gelatin molds? Are they something better left to our cooking past or should they be brought to today's table? Did you know that one version or another of Perfection Salad has been around for almost 80 years? From what I read, the good folks at Knox and the good folks at Jello had a bit of a competition going on for their gelatin products, and in all fairness some pretty forgettable gelatin molds were created. But Perfection Salad is one that should be remembered. Fairly low calorie, veggie good, with a little creamy tartness from the mayonnaise. It reminds me of a cole slaw in a way, just in a gelatin mold. And I love the colors; it adds a little sparkle and shimmer to the plate.
I brought this to a family outing a while back, knowing full well the Sweetie-Pi's grandsons wouldn't go near this gelatin if their life depended on it (and I was right), I wasn't too sure about his young adult daughters (there were good sports and ate polite nibbles, smiles), but I figured we "older" folks would certainly reminensce and enjoy this old fashioned Perfection Salad.
As it turned out, I was the only one who liked this, and I liked this a lot. Sweetie-Pi's sister, Susan, was honest and said she didn't like this even when their mother made it, and that's fine. I'm sure, without my mentioning it, you know that Sweetie-Pi couldn't even look at it (even though green is his favorite color!). I brought most of the salad back home, and yes, I polished it off all by myself. At the next to the last minute, as I was about to eat the last slice, I decided to throw it on a bed of lettuce and photograph it, just in case I decided to post it. Hence, it's not beautiful, but I can assure you its lack of aesthetics didn't stop me from enjoying it to the laste bite.
I may as well tell you, if you come to my house and we're having a ladies' luncheon, I want to make this for you. I'll try not to go too Donna Reed with the pearl necklace, high heeled pumps, and shirt waist dress, but you never know. This recipe is an inspiration.
2 tablespoons unflavored powdered gelatin, softened in 1⁄2 cup cold water
1⁄2 cup sugar
1⁄3 cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon. kosher salt
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup finely shredded cabbage
2 jarred pimentos, minced
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and minced
Canola oil, for greasing
In a custard cup or other similar small bowl, soften the gelatin in the water.
Add the sugar, rice vinegar, lemon juice, salt and softened gelatin to a small sauce pan. Heat over medium heat until the gelatin dissolves. Remove from heat and chill for 30 minutes (gelatin will be thick, but not thoroughly set). Stir in remaining prepared vegetables.
Grease a 12" x 4 1/2" x 2" pan (or use individual custard cups, etc.) and transfer gelatin mix to the mold. Chill until set, about 6 hours.
When it comes time to unmold the salad, take a thin-bladed knife and gently slide it along the edge of the mold. Set the mold in a pan of hot water for about 5 seconds. Remove from pan from the water and turn the mold onto the serving plate.
Served 1, but really is intended to serve 12
**My Notes: I used an 8" x 5" bread loaf pan and it worked fine. I would love to make this salad in individual custard cups just because the presentation would be prettier. I rarely have success unmolding gelatin, so I would hesitate to use a mold that is too intricate. Even using the loaf pan, the first attempt at unmolding was unsuccessful. I returned the pan to the hot water for another five seconds, and it was a tad too long because the unmolded gelatin had started to melt. I put everything in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so and it set up fine.