I have been a bit delinquent with posting new material to the blog – mostly due to September rearing its ugly head as we all settle back into the routine and drudge of post-summer life. I vow to post more regularly despite schedules and commitments elsewhere. I truly look forward and enjoy sharing my culinary adventures and misadventures through this blog.
One of the consequences of maintaining a fearless perspective in the kitchen is repeating few recipes. There are always new dishes to prepare and new techniques to explore. Of course, there are the old standards – more comfort food than anything – that creep up in my standard repertoire. They are usually featured at this time of the year and consist primarily of soups and stews.
There is one dessert in particular that has become a favourite of many guests. It has also been massaged and run through the wringer over the years as I explore and try ingredient variations. Laura Calder’s wine jelly with grapes has been requested many fold over the years. It is an elegant take on a childhood comfort food: Jell-O! Champagne is featured as the liquid component which is sweetened and gelled with regular old gelatin. Suspended in the boozy concoction is a medley of red and green grapes. Unfortunately, one is at the mercy of the local grocer for the grape variety and size. I always keep my eyes peeled for my next recipe trial – the ever-so-minuscule champagne grapes!
‘Champagne Jell-o’, as it is colloquially known in certain dining circles, was last made to celebrate Rachel & Javier’s news. This version was made with the driest champagne we could find (dry is best as a significant amount of granulated sugar is added to the liquid) and simple monochromatic green grapes. The dessert is always served with fresh crème Chantilly (whipped whipping cream sweetened with powdered sugar) dotted with vanilla seeds. A more luxurious and divine dessert would be very difficult to find.
Wine jelly with grapes
- 1 tablespoon unflavoured gelatin
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups dry white or sparkling wine
- About 15 ounces small, seedless red and green grapes
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons sugar, more to taste
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or Cognac
Stir the gelatin into 2 tablespoons of water, and set aside to soften. Put the sugar and wine in a saucepan, and heat to dissolve the sugar. Do not boil. Remove the wine from the heat and whisk in the gelatin until completely dissolved. Cool.
Arrange the grapes in 6 ramekins or tea cups. Pour over the wine mixture. Cover, and chill several hours to set.
To serve, run a knife around the edge of the molds and dip the bottoms into hot water for a few seconds, then invert onto serving plates.
In a bowl, whip the heavy cream with the sugar and flavoring to serve alongside.