Here's Where it Gets Weird

So far, I've been going easy on you guys. I've tried to pick things that are mostly accessible to our palates and our times. Here's where it gets weird.

We've arrived at the the texture my Sidekick dreads the most: JELLY.

Hot Crab Flakes with Cold Tomato Jelly speaks to a time when it was totally reasonable to chill tomato gelatin in a timbale mold until the moment your guests arrived, un-mold and serve with a flourish, possibly under a cloche. This is hardly that time for most of us. For most of us, we're lucky if this is a holy-mother-people-will-be-over-in-fifteen-minutes-buy-a-bag-of-chips-on-your-way-home kind of time. I like that this recipe makes me slow down, makes me plan ahead, makes me (shudder) measure my own gelatin proportions and gently toss crab flakes in melted butter, so as to not break them up too much. This particular recipe is really indicative of why I started this project in the first place. It forced me to make something I NEVER would have made otherwise, made me focus on technique, took us back in time and was a delightful and delicious surprise. Oh, and it was also totally weird.

Hot Crab Flakes with Cold Tomato Jelly
Make a highly spiced and seasoned tomato jelly and pour into small timbale molds. Chill well. When ready to serve, turn out on individual plates, decorate each mold with a sprig of cress, and at base, surrounding mold, place a circle of hot crab flakes, prepared as follows: --

Pick over, carefully, fresh crab flakes, and toss them in butter until well heated. Do not stir enough to break the flakes. Season with salt, pepper, Tabasco and sherry.

Tomato Jelly
1 pint canned tomato
3 slices onion
4 stalks celery cut small
2 slices carrot
Spring of parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons peppercorns
6 cloves
Small piece of mace
Bit of bay leaf
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt and Tabasco to taste

Cook the tomatoes with all the seasonings except the Tabasco for twenty minutes and strain. Add gelatin softened in cold water, using the proportion of three-fourths tablespoon to one cup of liquid. Then add Tabasco*. Stir until dissolved and set to chill.

*Psst, guys: I added, like, a lot of Tabasco.

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