From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Follow her on Twitter at @frijolita and email her at alejandra[AT]borderstan.com.
This post originally ran on July 2, 2010.
Note from Matt Rhoades: I am a child of rural Illinois: I know jello. Sometimes I still like to eat it. I just do. You can put most any sort of fruit, vegetable or nut in it on it or around it. It can be a salad or a desert or both simultaneously. Jello comes in many colors and flavors and can be topped with a plethora of toppings including mayonnaise and whipped cream. Cakes are made with jello. At my request, Alejandra Owens prepared this wonderful post on jello, jello-based recipes and their vital importance in 4th of July holiday food.
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I’m from Arizona and I’m half Mexican-American to boot. So I didn’t really grow up with a lot of Americana from the kitchen. For the 4th of July, there was potato salad, BBQ chicken and maybe, if I was lucky, a fruit salad.
But when I moved to the East Coast, I had a lot of friends who spoke of American Flag Jello molds and red, white and blue trifles. This is completely elusive to me. Who spends five hours making an American flag out of Jello?! No. I’m not kidding. That recipe says it takes 5 hours to make. I assume with all that Jello setting, it would take some time.
Of Jello and Flag Cakes
I mean, even Ina Garten of Hampton-based fame has a flag cake recipe! I’ve heard of some other crazy “America recipes” as I guess you could call them, but I’m wondering: What’s the nuttiest flag-inspired food you’ve seen? Will you be making something like this yourself?
Nigella Lawson’s Gin and Tonic Jelly
This weekend, I’d say, if you’re going to do something with Jell-O, you know what I’d recommend? Make Nigella Lawson’s Gin and Tonic Jelly. I haven’t tried it yet–but, oh, I plan on it. And, yes, I see the irony in making a 4th of July recipe from a British food writer.
This is as close to Jello-anything as I’m going to get and I appreciate the thin veil of sophistication that protects me from essentially saying, I want you to make this giant Jello shot. Serve it at your BBQ and watch your family members get tipsy.
After all, it’s a Nigella recipe. So not only can we be sure it will taste good, but we’ll all look extra sexy eating it too. I’ll warn you now, Nigella’s recipe is all in metric measurements. Even in her cookbook it’s like that. So don’t get on me about it in the comments. If you’d like to offer your conversion services, then we can talk!
Have a wonderful holiday, folks!
Gin and Tonic Jelly
- 300ml plus 50ml water
- 300g caster sugar
- zest and juice of 2 lemons
- 400ml tonic water (not slimline!)
- 250ml gin
- 25g/15 sheets of leaf gelatine
- 2 punnets white currants or 3 to 4 punnets raspberries, optional
- 1 teaspoon icing sugar if using raspberries
- 1¼ litre jelly mold, lightly greased with almond or vegetable oil
- Put the water and sugar into a wide, thick-bottomed saucepan and bring to the boil. Let boil for 5 minutes, take off the heat, add the lemon zest and leave to steep for 15 minutes. Strain into a measuring jug, then add the lemon juice, the tonic water and the gin; you should have reached the 1,200 ml mark; if not, add more tonic water, gin or lemon juice to taste.
- Soak the gelatine leaves in a dish of cold water for 5 minutes to soften. Meanwhile, put 50 ml of water into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, squeeze out the gelatine leaves and whisk them in. Pour some of the gin and lemon syrup mixture into the saucepan and then pour everything back into the jug. Pour into the mold and, when cold, put in the fridge to set. This should take about 6 hours.
- When you are ready to unmold, half-fill a sink with warm water and stand the jelly mold in it for 30 seconds or so. Clamp a big flat plate over the jelly and invert to unmold, shaking it as you do so. If it doesn’t work, stand it in the warm water for another half-minute or so and try again. If you’ve used a dome mold, surround the jelly with white currants (Sainsbury’s sells them in summer, as do many greengrocers’), or fill the hole with them if you’ve used a ring mold. Raspberries are just as good, but dust these with icing sugar — it sounds poncey, but it makes the pale-jade glimmer of the jelly and the otherwise-too-vibrant red of the fruit come together on the plate. The white currants should be left to glimmer, opal-like, without interference.
From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at Twitter at @frijolita or her food blog One Bite At A Time.
It’s the perfect weekend to grab a cooler bag, an ice pack and head to one of Washington’s numerous outdoor green spots for a good old-fashioned picnic.
Everyone focuses on the meat at a picnic, but I say the sides make the picnic. A cold, creamy potato salad is a must — and this potato salad with red onions (my favorite onion) includes pickles (add some pickle juice if you want to get extra fancy) which only makes it better.
If a cold pasta salad sounds tired and old, gussy it up by making this Mediterranean Orzo Salad from food blogger Not Derby Pie. Buttery cannellini beans and pungent sun dried tomatoes balance out this pasta dish to make it (much) more exciting than your average slimy pasta salad.
- The website-calendar, What’s On Washington, has a regularly updated listing of events in the D.C. area.
- Check out the July 4th roundup at washingtonian.com… and the Going Out Gurus at The Washington Post have a great map of places to watch the fireworks on the National Mall on Monday night… the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival, an annual event, is happening on the National Mall.
- Road closures: Lots of them downtown and around the National Mall–but not in the Borderstan area. DC Department of Transportation put out its list of road closures for this weekend.
- Events on the National Mall. The National Park Service has a listing. If you want to go for the festivities, check the the list.
- The official Parade is Monday, July 4, beginning at 11:45 a.m. It goes westward on Constitution Avenue NW from 7th to 17th Street.
- There are concerts on the Capitol grounds and at the Washington Monument.
- There are fireworks on the National Mall. They begin at 9:10 pm on Sunday night, and the launch site is the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool (yes, the pool is currently under repairs).
It’s a Holiday Weekend, Borderstanis! And you know what that means… one extra day (more if you’re lucky) for fantastic weekend pursuits. If you’re planning to stick around town this weekend, here’s your guide to maximum three-day weekend fun:
Friday, July 1
Happy July…this weekend marks the beginning of JulyPA Days at Pizzeria Paradiso. The restaurant will have all IPAs on draft at all three locations, including 2003 P Street NW for the entire month.
At night, get into patriotic party mode at 9:30 Club’s (815 V Street NW) infamous ’90s Dance Party. DJs Will Eastman and Brian Billion will be spinning the decade’s most memorable hits. Tickets are $15 and available here. Doors at 9 pm.
Saturday, July 2
Looking for a pool party? Dubsplash will be making their regular weekly summer appearance at the Capitol Skyline (10 “I” Street SW). This week features “Big Freedia,” the queen of the New Orleans booty-bounce scene, DJ Rusry Laze and DJ Keenan Orr. Doors open at 11 am and the show(s) start at 4 pm. Admission is $20 at the door.