HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Where did Aspic go?

I am currently visiting my SOs mother who is an avid cook. She has every issue of Gourmet since the early 60s and tons of cookbooks ( needless to say I am in heaven). I have been reading a lot of her classic cookbooks and magazines and am wondering how/why aspic has disappeared. It seems every cookbook in the 60s had larges sections devoted to various aspic dishes. I have never eaten an aspic dish but want to make once since clearly they must have been good if everyone was making them. Any insight into why this trend went away and do you think it will come back? And are aspic dishes part of anyones repertoire?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Hmmm.... could be the name. Sounds like butt-floss ;) My mom used to always make a tomato aspic back in the 60's when she was having a dinner party. Used to scare me; sort of like a tomato Jell-O...I've never tried making one. What other aspics are out there besides tomato? Maybe you can be a new trendsetter.... Adam

    1 Reply
    1. re: adamshoe

      there are tons, there was one in a craig claiborne book with lobster, I have never had any thought so I dont even know what it should taste like.

    2. Maybe it was the overabundance of jello and fruit salads jiggling in the center of the 'well-dressed' 60's table that pushed the aspic over the edge. How many clear, jiggly courses can you take?

      Maybe interesting to revisit now though. I can image artfully cut and cooked vegetables (or meats or eggs or sphered liquids) arranged within a clear consomme as the center of an individual plate. Thanks for the idea.

      1 Reply
      1. re: alwayscooking

        OK - I'm thinking hard boiled quail egg, sphered hollandaise (the acid may be problematic), sitting in a nest of blanched shredded carrot with a spinach background - all encased in a clarified vegetable aspic made with agar. If I start now, I may have it perfected by Easter!

        Any other ideas?

      2. I love homemade tomato aspic served with tuna salad. Nothing better.

        4 Replies
          1. re: cassoulady

            4 cups tomato juice
            1/2 cup tomato puree
            2 T. lemon juice
            1 T. balsamic vinegar
            2 t. sugar
            1 t. salt, if using homemade tomato juice
            1 t. whole black peppercorns
            bay leaf

            2 envelopes gelatin
            1/2 c. cold water


            1/2 c. onion, chopped
            2 ribs celery, chopped
            2 T. fresh herbs, chopped

            Simmer tomato juice through clove ingredients (and any optional ingredients) for 30 minutes.

            In a 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup, dissolve the gelatin in the cold water for 5 minutes. Strain enough of the tomato mixture into the measuring cup to equal 4 cups. Stir well, adding water, if necessary, to produce 4 cups.

            Chill. When aspic is consistency of raw egg white, you can add diced avocado, crab, shrimp, jalapeno -- just about anything. (Crab and avocado are particularly good.) Or you can leave it plain. You can leave it to finish setting (6-8 hours) in the Pyrex, or pour it into a mold rinsed out with cold water.

          2. re: pikawicca

            I have eaten canned tomato aspic, sliced and served on a lettuce leaf with a dollop of mayo. I can't remember what label but it was very poplar in the 60's. I also seem to recall a canned consommé aspic.

            1. re: pikawicca

              I'm with you, pikawicca. Here in South Texas, homemade tomato aspic never went out of style. I also like a gazpacho version, with finely chopped vegetables that would go into your favorite gazpacho recipe.

            2. One of the more esoteric French dishes at a brasserie I once worked for was rabbit in aspic, better known among the crew as "baby bunny jello."

              Still curious why the trend went away? Maybe I'm just not French or sophisticated enough, but shreds of meat in aspic were not appealing to me.

              But alwayscooking's mention of spheres does bring a good comparison - spherification probably isn't that different than the aspic of old in a lot of ways, and I think we're seeing some similar textures out of the molecular gastronomy movement - precise little cubes of things that shouldn't be gelatinized...

              3 Replies
              1. re: cyberroo

                "baby bunny jello" ROTFLMAO!! I love resto. shorthand. I used to call our employee family meal the "Supreme de Walk-in" or "Hotel pan Surprise" ;) Adam

                1. re: adamshoe

                  I don't know where aspic went, but it's a word that'll still make little kids giggle and squeal...

                2. re: cyberroo

                  Baby bunny jello has got to be one of the funniest phrases ever. Must remember to use it! Thanks!

                3. Isn't "aspic" another word for "vegetable terrine"?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: yayadave

                    No, aspic can be an ingredient in some vegetable terrines. Aspic is a savoury jelly. Originally, I believe it was just really good clarified meat stock made using good bones to provide the gelatin (now more likely has added gelatin from a package).

                    Tomato aspic is tomato juice and gelatin (technically, when you start adding solid stuff to tomato aspic, it should be given another name, like 'x in tomato aspic' or 'tomato aspic salad'. But I am not going to argue with MIL when she makes that vile mix of canned tomatoes and lemon jello and calls it tomato aspic).

                    I like meat aspics in small doses, like in a pate en croute, where you pour it into the holes on the top of the crust and it fills the gaps between the cooked farce and the crust.

                    1. re: Sooeygun

                      A true aspic can take all day to make. Cooks today rarely will take the trouble.

                  2. Ugh. One of the few foods that I can't eat--I hate the texture, just as I hate the texture of jello.

                    1. My mother used to torture us in the 70's with tomato aspic with sunflower seeds, raisins and carrots. I still have nightmares about it! I still like jell-o- but I can no longer tolerate sunflower seeds or raisins!

                      It is interesting to note that gelatin has a significant role in American (household) culinary history. I have in my hands my grandmother's recipe box (she was born in the 1890's). 8 out of 10 of the salad recipes call for gelatin. It was this new & modern ingredient.

                      I have high hopes that this trend will make a reappearance.... without sunflower seeds of course!

                      1. A quick glance through Lilek's Gallery of Regrettable Food (http://www.lileks.com/institute/gallery/) should answer your question. The Knox gelatin section is particularly pertinent, but it's all worth a look.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: mordacity

                          Re the flashing gelatine mold in the Knox section -- I used to make a simple version of "flashlight jello" for children. Bring to table in a darkened room. Wrap the flashlight in plastic wrap before putting it in the almost thickened jello.

                          1. re: neverlate

                            That's really easy to do with glow-sticks. They're small, non-toxic, and they glow all over.
                            Really eerie.

                          2. I had some aspic this winter at a dinner party. It was garnished with hard boiled egg wedges and avocado slices. I thought it was very refreshing --especially served in an overheated room. The hostess and many of the guests were elderly. Yes, yes, bing back aspic! The sky's the limit -- we have many more varieties and colors of tomato these days, more examples of creative, edible food sculpture, more open-minded food lovers, more dieters, etc.... I think the problem is time -- it takes planning, and the right mix of people to serve it to, and in the right context. I don't think you would serve it on paper plates with plastic utensils. Although you could try bringing it to an AARP Potluck.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: neverlate

                              "The right mix of people to serve it to" might just be people who have never seen aspic before. More than a few folks these days.
                              Aspic is a way to dress up some pretty humble ingredients into a fancy looking presentation.
                              There are a lot of recipes for mousses that are formed in molds that are first lined in aspic in which shaped foods are embedded. The "arts and crafts" phase requires a little time, but the financial hit is gentle.
                              I used to do a salmon mousse in a fish-shaped mold using canned salmon. Always a big hit and it looked pretty with cucumber scales in a light aspic.
                              Maybe I'll dig out that mold...

                            2. I actually posted some aspic recipes on the home cooking board about a year or so ago. It was in response to a forgotten foods thread, I think.

                              A bunch of local chowhounds went to a Polish restaurant here and ordered an appetizer of pork aspic that was enjoyed by all, so it's out there!

                              1. I make stock once or twice a month, whenever a stock sets when chilled I make aspic and/or chilled consommé.

                                Roasted a capon three weeks ago, made 6 quarts of stock with the bones and pan drippings the next day, the stock set up very firm when it was chilled. Reduced three quarts down to one and made a chicken aspic with shredded chicken, shallots, sweet peas and tarragon and one with mince scallion, small diced blanched carrot and roast garlic, and 2 molds chilled chicken consommé. Made chick soup with the remaining stock, one meal at a time.

                                Last week I roasted a leg of lamb, made stock in the same manner the following day. From the stock made soup, lamb stew and a lamb and chopped mint leaf aspic.

                                Down side is, my wife won't touch the stuff.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Demented

                                  "Down side is, my wife won't touch the stuff."

                                  Other way around here - I don't care for aspic at all, my wife loves calf's foot jelly and its ilk.

                                  1. re: Demented

                                    I've never had aspic and the idea is somehow disgusting... but I LOVE the bit of chicken stock/juice that leaks out onto the plate with the leftover roast chicken and sets into chicken jelly overnight... so if I ever had the chance to have a real aspic I'd probably actually like it!

                                  2. I don't think anyone's mentioned aspic cutters yet. Little cookie cutters to cut out fun shapes. I remember a set that cut out the shapes of card suits...hearts, diamonds, clubs, spades.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: scuzzo

                                      I have to ask my neighbor about that. I know she has a tablecloth with hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades.

                                      1. re: scuzzo

                                        My mum has that set of cookie cutters -- we used to use them for shortbread :-).

                                        The tomato aspic arrived annually on the Christmas table, served out of the bunny jello mould (mum never turned it out, will have to ask why). It is to this day served if mum hosts Dec 25 meal. And it is referred to as the dreaded aspic. None of the kids ever liked it and I still don't. It's just tomato juice, grated onion and Knox.

                                      2. One difference between going on a summer picnic with the Owen grandparents and going with the Kuntz ones was that Grandma Owen would make fried chicken and Grandma Kuntz would make tomato aspic. The latter picnics were my favorites. Although I adored Grandma Owen's chicken, mom's was almost as good, and she made that for the aspic picnics,and her glorious potato salad, and both of those things went beautifully with the aspic. I loved that stuff - it had a cool tang of celery and lemon, and since we were eating outdoors I could get away with sucking it off the spoon, which really pleased me for some reason, so long as I did it quietly.

                                        I think I'd probably have to have some kind of retro theme dinner to get away with making that around here; doesn't strike me as the sort of thing Mrs. O would be interested in eating otherwise. '50s picnic? Sure, why not...

                                        1. In one of Jose Andres's cookbooks, he makes a balsamic 'jello', and uses it as garnish (diced). I don't recall the proportions that he recommends, but it was pretty concentrated. Something like a 1/4 c of vinegar and an envelope of gelatin. It set up quite stiff.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: paulj

                                            I grew up with tomato aspic and love it. My wife and kids don't share my appreciation, but she makes it on holiday's for me. I like tomato's with cottage cheese on top, so I tried the aspic with the cottage cheese, it was great.

                                          2. I love aspic but I'm the only living member of my family group that does. I still make it now and then out of spite.

                                            Has anyone fooled with Pressed Chicken which is a related dish. I haven't had any in over 50 years. It is rather like a chicken "Head Cheese" with a vinegared chicken broth jello.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: OnkleWillie

                                              I bet I could make something like that from the chicken I cooked tonight, a bunch of thighs baked in a dish with vinegar and onion among other seasonings. They threw off a lot of both fat and jelly, and the three thighs that did not get eaten could contribute enough shredded flesh to make a creditable "headcheese". I'd just need to cook down the gelatinous stuff a bit more...

                                              1. re: OnkleWillie

                                                My xmil made a wonderful chicken dish that was done in aspic. I wish I could find the recipe. I think it was like the one described by OnkleWillie, but without the vinegar.

                                              2. Whenever I make Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings) I've got to make a batch of aspic...Although, the point of using aspic is so that it will melt and be a little burst of soup when you bite into the dumpling.

                                                1. I think it *is* back. I've seen it lots of places in Boston and even Denver in the past couple of years. Anyone else?

                                                  10 Replies
                                                  1. re: tatamagouche

                                                    It has been back for awhile, disguised by the name Panna Cotta and served as dessert. I love tomato aspic, even the canned stuff my mother used to buy oh and there was consumme Madrilene, excellent stuff.

                                                    1. re: Candy

                                                      I love panna cotta, so it can't be aspic! ;-)

                                                      Actually according to every definition I've been able to find, it's not - aspic is a jelly made with a meat, fish, or vegetable stock base. Unless you count vanilla beans as a vegetable, and cream as a stock. And if you do, I like the way you look at the world! But I still don't think it's aspic.

                                                      1. re: BobB

                                                        BobB is there a little gelatin in panna cotta? i havent made it, tho I do love it.
                                                        And gelatin,a dn aspic arent the same thing, right, aspic is meat or veggie jello right?

                                                        1. re: cassoulady

                                                          Yes, panna cotta in its purest form is a mix of heavy cream, sugar, gelatin, and vanilla bean. Heavenly stuff!

                                                          As for aspic, I'm not sure - certain meats and fish contain a natural gelatin, but vegetables do not, as far as I know, so I suspect powdered gelatin would need to be added for things like tomato aspic.

                                                          1. re: BobB

                                                            Yes tomato aspic does need gelatin added to it which is why I likened it to panna cotta. Cream gelatin. And it is heavenly. Pictures are of two different preparations. In the stemmed glass is a simple vanilla panna cotta with a black berry coulis and madelines. The other is a large one I made for a wedding shower, it was made with Chambord and garnished with red raspberries macerated in Chambord.

                                                      1. re: cassoulady

                                                        I think it went out of style when someone came up with the bright idea to create a recipe for a pink-ish aspic & market it along with a brain-shaped mold. Every time I see tomato aspic, I think of the stuff they use in horror movies to simulate gore. On the other hand, could one call jello shots "vodka aspic"?

                                                        1. re: PattiCakes

                                                          Well, doesn't aspic bring out the sculptor in people? It's fun to cast things in molds... it's only limited by the people who will eat said productions. This isn't technically aspic but I once saw a molded turkey shaped cranberry thingy one Thanksgiving.

                                                          1. re: neverlate

                                                            it probably brings out the artistic aspics of their personalities. UGH.

                                                        2. re: cassoulady

                                                          Well, I've been gone for a year and a half now—but I know I saw it on menus. Aujourd'hui, for one, as I recall...usually as a garnish.

                                                        1. re: Dinsdale45

                                                          funny! i love king crimson and was just trying to remember where i had last heard the word... thanks!

                                                        2. What is the difference between a jello-type mold and aspic? Someone mentioned a cucumber mold. I remember that as well, but it was opaque, and was usually garnished with very thin cucumber rounds arranged in an almost fish scale-like overlapping pattern. I never considered that aspic, nor would I consider any of the multitudinous savory variations (shredded cabbage and carrot, for instance) an aspic. Being of PA Dutch heritage, I've very familar with sous, which is shredded pigs feet meat suspended in a gelatinous broth that has turned to glue. THAT'S closer to what I would think of aspic.

                                                          11 Replies
                                                          1. re: PattiCakes

                                                            Larousse Gastronomique just defines aspic as 'Term which applies to a way of arranging cold dishes. It consists of putting slices or fillets of chicken, game, various meats, fish, vegetables, fruit, etc., into moutled jelly.'

                                                            In classic French cooking it would have been made from a well clarified and reduced stock. Now we let the Knox factory take care of that step, using their powdered gelatin (or some equivalent instant product).

                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                              So a "jello mold" could be classified as a type of aspic?

                                                              1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                Yes. That is why I was bringing up panna cotta. The last edition of "The Food Lover's Companion" says that aspic is "A savory jelly, usually clear, made of clarified meat, fish or vegetable stock and GELATIN. Tomato aspic, made with tomato juice and gelatin is opaque. Clear aspics may be used as a base for molded dishes, or as glazes for cold dishes of fish, meat or poultry and eggs. They may also be cubed and served as an accompaniment relish with cold meat, fish or poultry

                                                                1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                  I suspect that in the days before commercially made gelatin, aspics where usually savory, using ingredients that were compatible with the base stock (fish, veal, etc). Sweet ones probably weren't popular when it was difficult to remove all fishiness or beefiness from the base. They probably weren't common in homes in any form - except as part of something like head cheese.

                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                    Gelatin has been commercially made since the 1680's, by the early 1800's it was available from Holland to the United States.

                                                                    The term Aspic is French and probably dates to some time in the 1780's or 90's.

                                                                    Just thought you might like to know... Hide glue, a gelatin that is harder than wood when set was used by the Egyptians to make furniture.

                                                                    1. re: Demented

                                                                      So was the Aspic bloom (pun intended) that this thread alludes to, a result of a technical breakthrough (say, easy to use powder gelatin?), or marketing (e.g. Knox recipes in Lady's home mags, etc).

                                                                      Was there a similar rise and fall in the use of aspic in formal French cooking?

                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                        Honestly Paul, I don't know.

                                                                        I had a pot of fresh soup turn into chicken and veg jelly over night, that gave me the idea to mold a jellied stock with bits of meat and other food stuff. It was several years after that before I read anything about aspic, consommé or clarifying stock.

                                                                        I believe the idea that led to aspic as a dish, may have come about the same way.

                                                                  2. re: PattiCakes

                                                                    Technicallly, no. A classic "aspic" is always made from a meat stock/consome. Never sweet. In the time of "tomato aspic," it was sort of like an inside joke. It was common knowledge that real aspic was made with very thick consomme, so how do you make consomme from tomatoes? It was sort of like seeing "confit of carrots" (God, I HOPE hey're kidding!) on a menu today. But to the best of my knowledge, "aspic" has never been a term used for a sweet gelatin dish, whether it has carrots and raisins in it or fruit salad. But there was a time when Jell-O tried their hand at offering things like tomato flavored Jell-O, and other such. And you can use Knox gelatin to thicken a meat broth to make a lazy wo/man's aspic.

                                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                                      OK, if you want to technical, the 'sweet ones' that I was referring to are covered under Jelly (Gelee) in the LG. That term covers meat, vegetable and dessert ones, whether made from hart's horn, gelatinous bones or commercial gelatin.

                                                                  3. re: paulj

                                                                    A question: How did they chill the aspic before the days of refrigeration -- or was it strictly a cold weather dish?

                                                                    1. re: neverlate

                                                                      Gelatin does not really need refrigeration to set, just time. The refrigeration helps speed things along.

                                                                2. Tomato aspic. I don't know what it is about it but the mention of the food makes me quesy. Maybe it's the fact that it was my mother's "go-to dish" for holiday get-togethers. She was a great cook but took to floating a variety of things, some already mentioned, in her aspic-canned baby shrimp (still can see it in my nightmares),celery (served with tuna salad) and the best one was the one she brought to my father's family Christmas (all Italians) tomato aspic with calamari. Don't get me wrong I eat other things in aspic but, there's something about the memories of my mother's tomato aspic that keeps me from trying it again.

                                                                  1. In 'The Creative Cooking Course' a large cookbook from the 1970s, at least half of the salad recipes involve gelatin in some form or other. In fact the salad section starts with 'the basics of working with gelatin'. The basic simple aspic uses both beef stock and packaged gelatin, and the eggshells to clarify the stock, while the emergency alternative uses canned consumme. Both include sherry.

                                                                    The tomato aspic includes Worchestershire sauce and hot sauce (1/4 tsp).

                                                                    By modern standards, the use of greens in salads is noticeably limited. Also nothing is labeled 'vegetarian'.

                                                                    The book is rather eclectic, with recipes for both upside down pineapple cake and Gateau St Honore (the cream puff tower). The editor also worked on the 1960s edition of Larousse Gastronomique.

                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                      Paul, just for the record, a Gateau St Honore isn't the "cream puff tower." That's a croquembouche, and is the traditional French wedding cake. A Gateau St. Honore is the traditional French birthday cake, and it is a round cake-sized base of pate brisee which then has a ring of cream puffs attached to the edge of the circle with caramel, then the center is filled with a gelatin-stabilized pastry cream. Those crazy French do love their cream puffs!

                                                                        1. re: mordacity

                                                                          It's kind of interesting to think about the guy who invented pate au choux. "I wonder what will happen if I boil butter, water and flour until it pulls away from the pan, then whip in some eggs and bake it?" Whoever it was, bless him! Or her, as the case may be. '-)

                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                            Don't you suppose it was from some mistake?

                                                                            I often think about the first person to eat a raw oyster. Must have been starving!

                                                                            1. re: yayadave

                                                                              Possibly. Maybe s/he thought s/he was making pancakes, they got too airy on the griddle so s/he popped them into the oven not expecting the results?

                                                                              I think the first guy to eat a raw oyster must have been double-dog dared by his little brother. Nothing else makes sense. '-)

                                                                            2. re: Caroline1

                                                                              It appears to have evolved over the course of several hundred years. According to Claude Juillet in Classic Patisserie: An A-Z Handbook:

                                                                              "In 1533, when Catherine de Medici left Florence to marry the Duke of Orleans who was later to become Henry II, King of France from 1547, she brought with her to France her entire court, which included her chefs. Seven years later in 1540, her head chef, Panterelli, invented a hot, dried paste with which he made gateaux. He christened the paste pâte à Panterelli.

                                                                              The original recipe changed as the years passed, and so did the paste’s name. It became known as pâte à Popelini, which then became pâte à Popelin. Popelins were a form of cake made in the Middle Ages and were made in the shape of a woman’s breasts. A patissier called Avice perfected the paste in the middle of the eighteenth century and created choux buns. The pâte à Popelin became known as pâte à choux, since only choux buns were made from it. [And choux buns were the same shape as small cabbages. Choux is the French word for cabbages.] Antoine Carême in the nineteenth century perfected the recipe, and this is the same recipe for choux pastry as is used today."

                                                                              1. re: BobB

                                                                                Thanks! Interesting. That Catherine de Medici, she did travel in style! And we all know Carême was a good guy. '-)

                                                                                1. re: BobB

                                                                                  If you add some grated Gruyère to the paste and make those buns, they're called gougères, and they're fabulous with wine. They keep a very long time without becoming inedible, too, probably because the fat and flour stabilize each other.

                                                                            3. re: Caroline1

                                                                              oops! Your description is more consistent with the picture in the book. I mistakenly assumed it was just a variation on the tower - which is also in the book. St Honore is the rook of the pastry world, a shorter ring of cream puffs. Crequembouche is the towering queen draped in spun sugar.

                                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                Some of the Pho places in the Seattle area serve cream puffs with their pho. That is, when you sit down you get a plate of bean sprouts and basil for the soup, and a plate of cream puffs. I assume they are meant to be eaten afterwards, but never asked.

                                                                                Also when a large Korean chain grocery opened recently in the area, one of the first shops in the food court specialized in cream puffs - custom filled at time of purchase.

                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                  I love the idea of custom filled cream puffs. Sometimes I fill them with things like chicken or tuna salad or other savory fillings, sometimes sweet. What kind of fillings do they offer? I'm curious.

                                                                                  As for cream puffs with pho, are they sweet or savory? hmmmm...

                                                                            4. This thread is high amusing, and very informative!

                                                                              In my past 2 years of collecting old Scandinavian cookbooks, it seemed to be majorly popular from 1950-1970's, based on the books. Why in the 1980's, did it fall off the radar, in popular cooking? All I know, after reading the recipies, is that it takes ALL day, to make a really beautiful, detailed one. It's art and crafts, meets cooking. I've got recipies that show quarted hard-boiled eggs, cooked shrimp, various veggies, chicken and veal, in different combinations in an aspic..All done in gorgeous, geometic patterns.

                                                                              I had an older co-worker, who was trained to be a cook in the Navy. He was in the service in the 1960's, and he was the first one to tell me what an aspic was. He said even the Navy made aspics, at the time! (or, at least his ship did..*LOL*) Even he wonders why they have fallen from favor, but he also thinks it's the whole time issue.

                                                                              I had to laugh at the 2 comments: Bringing it to an AARP gathering (as they would be the only ones to know what it is!) and vodka aspic another name for Jello Shooters! The baby bunny jello story was really amusing, as well.

                                                                              Threads like this make this place great!

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Honeychan

                                                                                The Creative cooking book that I mentioned earlier has a section on 'engraving in aspic' - placing decorative items in the mold. One tip: 'tweezers will help you position the design'

                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                  Is suspending meat in aspic a way of preserving it? I just got to thinking that it might be.

                                                                                  On the topic of old-time refrigeration: we used to live in a house that was built in the 20's. It had an "ice door" in one of the walls in the kitchen. The other side of the ice door opened into a little vestibule area that could be accessed by a side door. Back in the day, the ice box was placed in the kitchen so that the back of the ice box was up against the ice door. The ice man would come to your home, enter through that side door into the vestibule, and deliver the ice directly into your ice box through that ice door. That way the ice man did not have to soil your nice clean kitchen. That house also had "servants' stairs", which were steep, narrow stairs that allowed someone from the kitchen to get up to the 2nd floor without having to walk around through the living room and up the front staircase.

                                                                              2. Halloween 2008. My piece de resistance.

                                                                                13 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                                                    Oddly enough, even though this was a legitimate recipe from a 1970-s era cookbook, no one wanted to eat it. Well, except for one woman who was from England where, I guess, this kind of thing was greatly appreciated.

                                                                                    1. re: Nyleve

                                                                                      Maybe there's a whole underground of people who surreptitiously make and eat aspics and Jello molds at home, but never admit it.

                                                                                      1. re: yayadave

                                                                                        If there is, then I want to meet one, since I have never tried one. Food trends always come back around so I best be prepared to whip one up once they are in greater demand.

                                                                                        1. re: cassoulady

                                                                                          When you do - rely more on the natural gelatin of the stock rather than the package. I think it was the firm petri dish texture - that fought back when eaten - that finally drove the masses away.

                                                                                          1. re: alwayscooking

                                                                                            The firmness of gelatin has nothing to do with whether you made from your own stock, or if Knox made it from their's. It's all in the ratio of gelatin to liquid. I have some foot based stock in the fridge that rivals the Knox blocks we used to make for our kids in stiffness. I've also had some rich, but delicate, panna cotta using packaged gelatin.

                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                              Granted and corrected - thanks! Guess I was remembering the solid, flavorless mass that could up in a blast furnace unscathed.

                                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                                          Erk - it was like slippery tomato juice with macaroni embedded in it. It tasted just the way I expected it to taste. A little like when you have leftover spaghetti in tomato sauce in the fridge and you open the container and take a forkful...it was like that but probably not as flavourful.

                                                                                          I didn't like it.

                                                                                          1. re: Nyleve

                                                                                            did you rescue it by turning it into some kind of tomato soup? too bad all your work went to waste.....

                                                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                                                              Seriously, it was more than worth it as a table decoration alone. The dry ice was awesome. I've spent more time and money on flower arrangements that no one has noticed.

                                                                                              1. re: Nyleve

                                                                                                i loved the olive-as-eyeball-like-sentinels on top of the craft! ...or "critter"? ;-).

                                                                                                and the dry ice *was* perfectl!

                                                                                                1. re: Nyleve

                                                                                                  Look at it this way. You used it as a scary Halloween decoration. Sandra Lee would use it as a centerpiece for her Easter table.

                                                                                    2. Before the birth of the Food Network, I used to watch (and still do) the PBS cooking shows. I don't remember who, but I saw quite a few very elaborate aspics "sculpted" back in those days. For those aspics having an appearance of edibles being suspended in them, it was very tedious and time consuming as you had to let each layer gel before building the next.

                                                                                      About 2 years ago, I was at a convention sized luncheon and a tomato aspic was served as one of the courses (provided by the Hilton Anatole/Dallas). I had never had aspic, but from the cooking shows, I knew what it was. It was light, cool and refreshing and with some salt and pepper, tasted pretty good. Maybe aspic is on its way back??

                                                                                      If you google "aspic" and click images, you'll see several beautiful displays.

                                                                                      1. To Norway! Aspic is still very popular, especially w/ shrimp and peas or asparagus.

                                                                                        1. I wonder if Jon Stewart is a Chowhound, he mentioned aspic tonight during his interview with Tom Selleck.

                                                                                          1. Klaus Nomi (Sperber) said his aunt's aspic was his favorite food.

                                                                                            1. "Where did Aspic go? "

                                                                                              If there's any justice in the world; to Hell.

                                                                                              Jellied meats in aspic give me nightmares. I had a few of these 'delicacies" when I was studying abroad in the USSR (in 1990) and ever since then, jiggly foods make me cringe.

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: BabsW

                                                                                                That must be why my wife likes them, she grew up in the USSR.

                                                                                                1. re: BobB

                                                                                                  "Kholodets" was the worst offender. There was not enough horseradish sauce to cover its vile jigglyness.

                                                                                                  The homemade head cheese (Sült) I had when in Estonia was also not a favorite of mine, though that was probably because I saw it being made. lol

                                                                                                  Bozhe moy/ OMG.

                                                                                              2. I have Mastering the Art of French Cooking and am debating whether or not to do the aspics. The poached eggs aspic sounds like it might not be too bad. The chicken liver aspic, however, doesn't sound all that great. However, Julia says that lobster, shrimp, or crab meat is an acceptable substitute. So maybe I'll try the shrimp.

                                                                                                1. Wasn't there a Barbra Streisand tune called "Where Did the Aspic Go?"

                                                                                                  1. I remember aspic well from years of living in Poland (90s). It's not my favorite, but I don't mind eating it from time to time, and it is a shame that it is being excised from the culinary arts in some places. It's pretty good with a chicken drumstick in the aspic.

                                                                                                    1. Just made Julia's eggs in aspic recipe. It was very meh. Won't be making it again. I made it just to round out the book. I can see why people have stopped making aspics.

                                                                                                      Note: If you do make one, have some wine with it. The Pinot Grigio was far better than the aspic.

                                                                                                        1. So much did we kids hate Jello, the family fridge was invariably bursting with half-eaten platters and dishes of the jiggly substance. As we grew up in the 50's/60's, aspics were also very much in fashion, and they were served in our home as well. But more often than not, most of the dinners were thrown away, uneaten. Sadly, my mother just didn't get it. Little palets are not sophisticated enough for fancy cooking, much less the odd deserts that jiggle. Since it is long held that kids rule the house, and mom is just there to do the cooking, we kids decided it was time to take action. That's the way it goes. As rulers of the house, we kids championed more vitally nutritious meals, such as a plain ham sandwich, a handful of potato chips, and two brownies for desert. Being the oldest of three, it fell upon me to rescue my siblings, and end the reign of terroists Jello and aspic forever. With the help of our elementary school science teacher, and a lesson from our school science book, I eventually cured my mother of ever serving Jello or aspic again. One day, when she was pouring a fresh batch of cherry Jello, I asked if I could keep just one cup of the Jello aside for a project I was doing in school. Saying that something was "for school" always scored. Doing things "for school" was better than a "get out of jail free" card. My mother happily obliged. When the Jello was almost cooled, I reached into the fridge, in the presence of my mother, and I selected one bowl. I gently kissed the surface of the Jello, with my lips, and carefully placed the bowl back into the fridge. I then left my mother with strict instructions to ignore that bowl, for certainly if I were to succeed with my science project, that bowl must remain undisturbed. Time passed, and as kids generally do, I forgot the passing of time. My bowl of Jello remained in the back of the fridge, totally forgotten. With the daily shuffle of leftovers, and the hands of three forever-hungry kids, the dish of Jello kept moving farther back into the fridge, into the netherworld. A month passed, and my mother was in the kitchen one day cleaning out the fridge, when we all heard a scream. I was the first to arrive in the kitchen, and I found mom standing there, visibly shaking, holding what appeared to be a large, greenish-blue sculpture. It was an exact, three dimensional replica - a sculpture - of my lips, standing inside a desert dish. It was my project! Holy cow! I had forgotten! What was once a harmless family desert, the cherry flavored goo had morphed into a nearly six-inch tall spire of pure, unadulterated, mold. It streched all the way from its roots, inside the clear glass bowl, to a point at nearly six inches tall. It was oddly artistic looking, and in another way it was a most hideous creation. It was just like a science fiction movie. That was the last we kids ever saw of Jello. I was the hero of my siblings, and dad too! After that, mom learned to follow the advice of the folks who have to eat the food. It was chocolate or butterscotch pudding (no vanilla please!), or some nice, chocolate related, baked desert. After all, you just can't tell what might come bursting out the the fridge, next time. I won't tell you what we did, when one day mom suddenly got it in her head that buying Harlequin ice cream was a better idea than plain old choclolate.

                                                                                                          1. Today they are known as hydrocolloids :)

                                                                                                            1 Reply