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May 27, 2011 08:52 AM

Summer's here and the time is right for molded salads! Let's celebrate these delightful treats.

Having been introduced to jello salads by my dear mother-in-law's many and multifarious variations, all delicious, I am a sucker for a good molded salad.
They're great any time of year but especially in summer.
Saw this recently in Better Homes and Gardens' June issue and am itching to make it: (too bad no photo, the color is absolutely gorgeous).
What shimmying glimmering delights are gracing your family's table these days?

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  1. Jell-O does come in watermelon flavor, for anyone who wants to do a speedier version.

    1 Reply
    1. re: greygarious

      True - but the juice has that nice cloudiness to it.

    2. Well, it's not these days, per se, but last summer I made my deepest and only foray into molecular gastronomy, which used to be called names like "baking" and "congealing" :) by making tomato and lime/cilantro juices and using gelatine to set them, then dicing them and using as a cold garnish counterpoint to barbequed oysters. (Progress is obviously being made: I wrote the "O" word without a shudder this time....) Got a lot of compliments on those; people really loved the way they tasted and looked. I didn't do it for the fam, though; they don't pay me enough. I didn't come up with that on my own brainpower, either: I know I saw it somewhere else first and can't recall where.

      Love that watermelon salad. So so pretty. Would be excellent at a bridal or Girl baby shower! Definitely tossing ideas around about nectars and juices to use, and what to suspend in that jello. Trying to think about it as a stained-glass artist with a decent palate would.

      On the oysters, there's absolutely no reason this idea couldn't be used on cold ones.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mamachef

        I'd definitely like that on cold ones, I don't like them cooked at all.

      2. My old timey favorite: Orange jello, pineapple and shredded carrots. Makes me miss my grandamama. She would serve it in squares on a salad plate with a blob of mayo on the top. *sniff*

        3 Replies
          1. re: Sue in Mt P

            I had an aunt who served mayo on basically any molded or frozen salad, including the ones she served as dessert. We were visiting her many years ago, and my husband, a native Californian who wasn't very familiar with southern cuisine, took a huge bite of some concoction with mayo on it, fully expecting it to be whipped cream. I nearly died laughing at the look on his face.

            1. re: Isolda

              Poor ole thing. What a shock! Now I want some jello.

          2. I am absolutely dying to make the prosecco mold someone posted in the other thread. I've got a 20s/Prohibition-themed party to go to in a few days... wonder if that would do the trick? I'll report back.

            Does rhubarb inhibit the "set" of gelatin? I'd love to do a molded rhubarb salad. So tart and delicious! With little chicken salad sandwiches or something like that, wouldn't that be nice?

            ETA: I regularly crave that strawberry pretzel salad people make for pot-lucks. I'd love to try it with real whipped cream and mascarpone and fresh strawberries. Anybody who'd turn their nose up at something like that is crazy! ;)

            6 Replies
            1. re: LauraGrace

              LauraGrace, the only two fruits that I'm positive about are fresh pineapple and papaya, which you know you can't use. Seems like the rhubarb would be great, though; especially a strawberry-rhubarb version. If someone else tells you that the rhubarb doesn't work though, I'd listen to them before I'd listen to me. And fwiw, my Grandma used to make a gorgeous chicken salad for her bridge luncheons, and she always served that with a cranberry/orange/pecan mold, so yes, I think the tart sweetness of the rhubarb would be a great playmate for a delicious lunch.

              1. re: mamachef

                Rhubarb is fine - I've often used it. Fresh kiwi, gingerroot, figs, and guava are listed as no-nos on the Jell-O package, along with papaya and pineapple. From bitter experience, I can attest that honeydew is another one. Never tried with other melons. I am wondering about the pickled ginger that is served with sushi. I would like to try it using ginger ale or tonic water as the liquid but haven't yet risked it.

                1. re: greygarious

                  greygarious, what about using the brine of the ginger itself in a test run, for part or all of the liquid?

                  1. re: greygarious

                    greygarious, I've had luck with ginger when gelling a coconut broth mixture reminiscent of tom kha. I infused all the aromatics including the sliced ginger in the broth - set up like a charm. Perhaps cooking the ginger is the way to go?

                    I'm really intrigued with the idea of doing something with the pickled ginger! I was about to assume that heating during the packaging process might accomplish the same thing as cooking, but now I'm unsure that I even have a clue how picked ginger is processed. I think I'll have to give it a try - so many interesting possibilities for it!

                    1. re: cayjohan

                      Pickled ginger is boiled briefly in brine, and allowed to steep and then cool in the brine; then packed and hot-water processed. Don't know if that helps, but I hope so.

                      1. re: mamachef

                        Great - if it's cooked, it SHOULD be okay, I would think, since cooking pineapple inactivates the gel-inhibiting enzyme.

                        I should mention, by the way, that jello is great for strengthening fingernails. Since your nails are dead tissue, I have no idea why gelatin works so fast, but in cold weather I seldome make jello. My nails rip and break. Then I'll make a batch of jello - after eating 4 servings (2 cups jelled, total), which takes probably 6-7 days, my nails are noticeably stronger.

              2. Oooooh...kindred spirits! What a relief. I am an unapologetic junkie for the gelatinized category of foods. I buy Knox gelatin in the big econo 48 pack. I have frittered away more days than I care to admit on some elaborate gelatin mold or another. I just love the medium - it's a crazy art project. I'll try gelling anything.

                Gazpachos of all types are frequent targets; I just molded an ajo blanco in layers with red grapes - it was a blast to decorate (yep, who said that art degree wouldn't come in handy...?), and was really delicious. I often make some sort of panna cotta or blancmange concoction as dessert - last week we had a big hit with a yogurt and cream blancmange flavored with lemon, coriander and vanilla (served it with an olive oil cake with the same lemon/coriander/vanilla flavor set, and a lemon curd sauce; it was a nice combination). Next on my hit list is some sort of jellied chicken salad mold - I've got a craving.

                My avatar is a fairly elaborate all-day bit of nuttiness I undertook in pursuit of making a gelatin mold taste like tom kha. It was a roaring success, and is responsible for my being known as "The Jello Lady" by an entire circle of dining acquaintances. I've had "Hey Jello Lady!" shouted out to me while walking down the street. It's ridiculous, but I guess I'm stuck with it...

                I actually detested Jell-o as a child, but was fascinated by all the molded salads in cookbooks. I finally learned that what I detested was artificial fruit flavors (not just those of Jell-o, but of any kind), and realized that the world of gelling stuff was infinite with Knox. I use only juices or other liquids I've made myself, and have never looked back!

                What a great thread; I love getting the ideas!


                4 Replies
                1. re: cayjohan

                  This just hit my favorite responses Hall of Fame. Thank you for taking the time to write, cayjohan. Some of those are pure strokes of brilliance.

                  1. re: cayjohan

                    Wow! Brilliant.

                    That reminds me of an old recipe we used to make often in summer. I'd forgotten about it. It's 2 pkgs of Knox, 1 pint of mayo, 2 diced cucumbers, 2 diced fresh tomatoes, 2 peppers, diced, 2 stalks of diced celery, 1 diced onion and salt and pepper to taste. You mix the Knox in 1/4 c. water , 1/4 c. hot water and the mayonaisse. Mix in the vegetables and congeal. SOOO good in a sandwich when it's hot.

                    1. re: Sue in Mt P

                      That sounds like Perfection Salad, or a version.....I don't think the original contained mayo, but I don't see why it would hurt. I wonder how creme fraiche would work as a sub? Or is that just silly of me?

                      1. re: mamachef

                        I got the recipe from a Jr League cookbook of Greensboro, NC, cc 1978! it it's just called vegetable spread. Creme fraiche might be great. But I'd get run out of he South on a rail if I didn't use Duke's lol!