You can’t get past the first serving station at the Highland Park Cafeteria without encountering an array of tempting congeals. Tomato aspic is one of my favorites. This prep is sure to warm the heart of anyone with roots in the south. Serves 12.
4 c tomato juice (I use Campbells)
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 t salt (start with less, taste)
2 t white sugar (start with less, taste)
1 t Tabasco or to taste
½ c chopped celery and/or celery leaves
½ c chopped onion
½ c chopped green pepper
2 bay leaves
3 packets gelatin*
½ c cold water
2 ½ T cider vinegar
Mayonnaise (preferable Kewpie brand)
Method: Mix everything EXCEPT gelatin, water and vinegar in a large saucepan and bring slowly to a simmer. Continue cooking 5 minutes over very low heat until vegetables are just beginning to lose their crispness. Remove bay leaves. Meanwhile, mix gelatin into water in a shallow bowl and stir if necessary to thoroughly hydrate the gelatin. Turn off the heat and stir in gelatin, continuing to stir until all lumps disappear. Add cider vinegar and pour into a ring form or multiple individual molds (use silicon molds or else lubricate the surface with a tasteless oil). Refrigerate until very firm. Unmold onto serving plate(s); if the aspic sticks it helps to briefly dip the outside of the mold in hot water. Serve with a dollop of mayonnaise on each piece.
- The gelatin lobby wants us to use one packet for every cup of water but that’s definitely too much. I used three packets for insurance but two is probably enough.
VARIATION: Halve a ripe avocado then cut lengthwise into slices. Strain the vegetables from the aspic before adding the gelatin. When aspic is thickened but not yet set (after 1-2 hours in the refrigerator), carefully place the avocado pieces around the edges of the ring mold, curved side facing out, so each serving gets a piece of avocado. For individual molds, place a slice of avocado in each mold.