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Feb 17, 2009 04:29 PM

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?

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  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.