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TIP OF THE DAY: Jell-O Shots For Your Valentine(s)

How about gelatin shots as a treat for Valentine’s Day? Use unflavored gelatin and other drink ingredients to turn your favorite cocktails into solid form.

The alcohol-free version, Jell-O Jigglers, uses Jell-O for flavor and color; and engendered the return of a very old recipe—popular among young ladies in the 1860s, popular among all youth in the 1980s and beyond.

For the record:

  • Jell-O shots are made with Jell-O and alcohol. The flavor comes from the Jell-O; alcohol is substituted for one-third to one-half of the cold water. Any spirit can be used; vodka and tequila seem to be in the majority of recipes.
  • Gelatin shots or jelly shots are made with unflavored gelatin. Spirits and other flavorings are added to emulate a cocktail or punch.
  • Jell-O Jigglers are made with no alcohol: just Jell-O made with much less water, promoted by Jell-O in fun shapes, although jiggly cubes are fine.
  •  

    THE HISTORY OF JELL-O SHOTS

    Many of us think of Jell-O shots as the creation of fraternity culture in the late 1980s. But the first published recipe is more than 100 years older: alcoholic punch turned solid with gelatin. You can find it in the original cocktail recipe book published in the U.S.: Jerry Thomas’ Bartenders Guide of 1862. You can still buy it (reprinted) on Amazon.com.

    That recipe used generic, unflavored gelatin. Thanks to some pretty crafty sleuthing on the part of JelloShotRecipe.Blogspot.com, you can see a photocopy of the first known recipe for a molded gelatin-alcohol combination.

    They may have been forgotten by the cocktail culture, but in the U.S. Armed Forces in 1950s, they were made as a subterfuge to consume alcohol on the alcohol-restricted Army bases.

    The brand of flavored, colored gelatin called Jell-O was invented in 1897. Marketed as a light dessert, the product’s success began to wane in the 1960s; by the 1980s the company needed to revitalize the brand.

    The marketing team pored through older cookbooks and discovered what they renamed Jigglers, adding new excitement to the brand with the fun-shaped finger food snacks.

    The fun molds created for Jell-O Jigglers charmed children. The concept enticed teens and young adults to add alcohol to the Jell-O and call them Jell-O shots. Simple squares cut from a baking pan sufficed.

    Back in 1862 Jerry Thomas advised: “The strength of the punch is so artfully concealed by its admixture with the gelatine, that many persons, particularly of the softer sex, have been tempted to partake so plentifully of it as to render them somewhat unfit for waltzing or quadrilling after supper.”

    Refined ladies of the time could not be seen downing drink after drink, but the “gelatine punch” nibbles had the same effect as they have today (a.k.a., “drunk on Jell-O shots).

    MODERN JELL-O SHOTS

    Today, Jell-O shots are made in baking pans and cut into squares or fingers; made in theme-shape ice cube trays (hearts, stars, shamrocks, etc.), garnished with edible glitter, coated in hard chocolate, tiered in two or three colors, embedded with berries or cherries, and so on.

    You’ll find endless recipes on line. Note that many, like the one immediately below, are made with plain gelatin as opposed to Jell-O; and are thus technically gelatin shots.
     
     
    RECIPE #1: COSMOPOLITAN JELL-O SHOTS

    Eat your heart out, Carrie Bradshaw! Other people are enjoying their Cosmos in solid form—and they’re spill-proof.

    We adopted this recipe from Jelly Shot Test Kitchen.

    Prep time is 20 minutes plus setting in the fridge; total time 4 hours.
     
    Ingredients For 32 Pieces

  • 1-1/4 cup cranberry juice cocktail
  • 2-1/2 envelopes plain gelatin
  • 1/4 cup Rose’s lime juice (or preferably, fresh lime juice with a half teaspoon of simple syrup)
  • 1/4 cup Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
  • 3/4 cup orange flavored vodka
  • Garnish: 1/4 cup lime zest
  •    

    Pink Champagne Jello Shots

    Cosmopolitan Jello Shots

    Jello Shots Ingredients

    Chambord Jello Shots

    Jello Shot Recipe Book

    [1] It takes more time to turn out a good supply, but heart-shape shots are an extra treat (here’a the recipe from That’s So Michelle). [2] A favorite American cocktail, the Cosmopolitan, transformed into a solid state (photo courtesy Jelly Test Shot Kitchen). [3] Look for fancy ice cube molds locally or online (photo courtesy Craftster). [4] What to do with that bottle of cassis, Chambord or framboise: Make gelatin shots (photo courtesy Sugar And Cream). [5] Get a copy of Jelly Shot Test Kitchen: Jell-ing Classic Cocktails—One Drink at a Time (photo courtesy Running Press).

     
    Preparation
     
    1. COMBINE the cranberry and lime juices in a small saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Let it set for a few minutes; then place over low heat, stirring constantly until the gelatin is fully dissolved (about 5 minutes).

    2. REMOVE from the heat and stir in the liquors, blending thoroughly. Pour into a pan or molds and chill until set, several hours or overnight. To serve…

    3. CUT into the desired shape and garnish with lime zest. They can be served on a plate or tray, or placed in mini-cupcake wrappers immediately before serving.
     
     
    RECIPE #2: JELL-O JIGGLERS

    Because there’s no alcohol for flavoring, Jigglers simply need Jell-O. Here’s the recipe via Craftster.org:

    If you don’t have a flexible mold, you can always make Jigglers—or shots—in an old-fashioned ice cube tray (using the bottom only) or a small square or rectangular pan.
     
    Ingredients

  • 1 package red Jell-O
  • 1 flexible ice cube tray
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • Pam cooking spray
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SPRAY the mold with Pam, blotting any excess cooking spray.

    2. DISSOLVE the Jell-O in the boiled water, stirring to dissolve. Add the cold water, blend, pour into the mold and refrigerate until set, two hours or longer.

    3. POP them out of the molds (the joy of silicon!), plate and serve.
     

     

    Molded Jello Shots

    Maraschino Jello Shots

    [6] For dessert: Turn the recipe into a mold, slice and serve with berries and crème fraîche or mascarpone. This molded “punch” includes crème de cassis, sloe gin and St-Germain elderflower liqueur. Here’s the recipe from Jelly Shot Test Kitchen). [7] For maraschino lovers: a creative idea for shots or jiggles (no alcohol—here’s the recipe from That’s So Michelle).

     

    RECIPE #3: CHAMPAGNE & CHAMBORD GELATIN SHOTS

    This recipe is from Sugar and Charm.
     
    Ingredients

  • 5 cups Champagne or other sparkling wine, regular or rosé
  • 9 packs gelatin
  • 1-1/4 cups Chambord
  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • Optional: red food coloring for a darker color
  • Optional garnish: edible glitter
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the Champagne, sugar and lemon juice in a sauce pan. Add the packets of gelatin and let proof for a few minutes. Once bloomed, put the pot over medium heat and bring to a slow boil until the gelatin is dissolved.

    2. REMOVE from the heat and add the Chambord. Pour into a square baking dish or cake pan and refrigerate, covered, for a few hours until set. After half an hour, add the optional glitter.

    3. CUT into squares or fingers.
     

    THE HISTORY OF GELATIN

    Gelatin (also spelled gelatine) has been made since ancient times by boiling animal and fish bones. Aspic, a savory, gelatin-like food made from meat or fish stock, was a French specialty centuries before the dawn of commercial gelatin.

    Beginning in the 1400s, gelatin (protein produced from collagen extracted from boiled animal bones and connective tissues) had been used to make fancy aspics and desserts.

     
    It was a laborious process, undertaken largely by the kitchens of the wealthy, which had the staff resources to undertake it. It relied only on the natural gelatin found in the meat to make the aspic set.

    The next development, commercial gelatin sheets, was easier but still cumbersome: Gelatin was sold in sheets and had to be purified first, a time-consuming process.

    Powdered gelatin was invented in 1682 by Denis Papin. Here’s a longer history of gelatin and Jell-O; and a much longer discussion on Wikipedia.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Updated Chicken Noodle Soup

    chicken-noodle-soup-goodeggs-230r

    Chicken Noodle Soup

    Asian Chicken Soup

    Chicken Noodle Soup

    [1] The original soup has flat noodles, but try some of the many fun shaped pastas (e.g. bow ties, corkscrews, wagon wheels; photo courtesy Good Eggs. [2] Turn soup into a meal by packing in the chicken, pasta and veg (here’s the recipe from Gotta Want Seconds). [3] How about chicken noodle soup Asian-style, with ramen noodles and sliced chicken? You can use traditional American vegetables—celery, carrots, onions—and stock; or accent the stock with ginger, soy sauce, plus bok choy and napa cabbage (here’s the recipe from Recipe Tin Eats). [4] Got glass mugs or Irish coffee glasses? Use them! (here’s the recipe from A Family Feast).

     

    For February 4th, National Homemade Soup Day, calls all of us to make a pot of soup.

    If you haven’t made homemade soup, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is—especially a broth-based soup. Just add the ingredients to a pot of water or stock, bring to a boil and simmer. That’s it in a nutshell (with details depending on individual recipes).

    We couldn’t decide which soup to make, so we turned to the numbers: America’s #1 favorite is chicken noodle soup.

    Our grandmother made this classic comfort soup from scratch with fine egg noodles (photo #4). Our mom preferred wide egg noodles.

    But why not have fun with it and use one of the many fun shapes: bowties, corkscrews, shells, wagon wheels, etc.?

    ADD AT LEAST ONE GARNISH

    Some garnishes—like cheese and sour cream—don’t work well with broth-type soups. But here’s what does—and you can add as many of them as you wish:

  • Herbs: Chopped or minced fresh herbs taste best, but sprinkle dried herbs—including garlic or onion chips—if that’s what you like.
  • Spices: From black or colored peppercorns to red chili flakes—or maybe a dash of curry powder—check your spices for something that adds flavor and color.
  • Raw vegetables: There are vegetables in the soup already, but a topping of crunchy matchsticks—carrots, celery, daikon, jicama—or scallion slices is a welcome addition. For color, add diced bell peppers—ideal a mix of red, green, orange and/or yellow.
  • Bonus: More chicken—diced, pulled or sliced. Adding a mound of chicken to the center of the bowl turns the soup into a main meal.
  • Plus: Better bread and crackers: Raisin semolina bread? Walnut bread? Flatbread? Breadsticks? Crisps? Pick an artisan bread or gourmet crackers. Or, serve crostini: toasted baguette slice spread with anything from “bruschetta topping” to pimento cheese.
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    RECIPE: CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

    We make our chicken soup from scratch (here’s a recipe), but you can do it faster with a box of chicken stock and pre-cooked chicken breasts.

    We use lots of fresh dill and parsley in our stock, but some people prefer thyme.

    Ingredients

  • Chicken stock
  • Noodles/pasta of choice
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Onions
  • Fresh herbs
  • Salt and pepper
  •  
    Garnishes

    Pick one or two; or set out several and let each person customize his/her own bowl of soup.

  • Chopped fresh chives and/or parsley.
  • Gremolata.
  • Sliced jalapeños or a sprinkle of red chile flakes.
  • Chinese-style fried noodles or wonton strips (here’s an easy recipe) for homemade wonton strips.
  • More chicken: pulled, sliced or diced.
  •  
    Here are garnishes for other types of soups.
     
    Preparation

    1. DICE the carrots and celery, slice the onions, mince the herbs and cook them all in the stock until the vegetables are al dente. If you’re using raw chicken breasts, add them as well. You can make the recipe up to this point in advance and refrigerate; first remove the chicken breasts and tightly wrap them separately. When ready to serve…

    2. COOK the noodles according to package instructions. While it cooks, dice, slice or shred/pull the cooked chicken. Taste and add salt and pepper to the stock as desired.

    3. PLACE the drained, cooked pasta and the chicken in serving bowls. Ladle the stock and vegetables over them. Garnish as desired.

     
    BEYOND CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

    Check out our Soup Glossary for the different types of soups to make.

      

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    RECIPE: Sweet Green Juice For National Green Juice Day

    National Green Juice Day

    A sweet and green juice blend from Juicing Connection.

     

    January 26th is National Green Juice Day.

    Not everyone is a fan of blending kale and spinach, so here’s a green juice that takes a different direction: sweet and minty.

    Ingredients Per 8-Ounce Serving

  • 1 10-ounce cucumber
  • 2 cups chopped mint, loosely packed
  • 1/2 lime, freshly juiced
  • 1 apple
  • Optional garnish: cucumber spear
  • Optional: a splash of tequila, rum or vodka
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the ingredients in a blender and blend to the desired consistency.
     
     
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CUCUMBERS.

     
    The Juicing Connection, which provided this recipe, wants you to know that this recipe has lots of:

  • Vitamin C, required for: Immunity, heart and cardiovascular health, development of sex hormones, stress management, health and repair of skin and effective wound healing.
  • Vitamin K, required for bone building and repair, teeth, blood circulation (fewer bruises), muscle cramps, varicose veins and blood clotting (it can also prevent heavy menstrual bleeding).
  •  
    One portion contains 38% DV of vitamin C and 66% DV of vitamin K, plus 31% DV of fiber.
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Eat Something Australian

    January 26th is Australia Day, the official National Day of Australia.

    It marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales, and the raising of the Flag of Great Britain at Sydney Cove by Governor Arthur Phillip.

    In modern Australia, celebrations reflect the diverse society* and landscape of the nation, and are marked by community and family events, reflections on Australian history, official community awards, and citizenship ceremonies welcoming new members of the Australian community.

    *Editor’s note: Some indigenous Australians, may not be celebrants Australia Day. Having been pushed aside by the British, they label Australia Day as “Invasion Day,” and stage protests instead. Here’s the history.

    Honor it by eating something Australian. Suggestions:

  • Barramundi fish.
  • Burger and beetroot. Yes, instead of a slice of cheese, a slice of beet is a favored burger topping.
  • Dukkah, a seasoning mix popularly served with olive oil and bread.
  • Kiwifruit (photo #1).
  • Lamb.
  • Lamingtons (photo #2), a chocolate-dipped sponge covered with desiccated coconut, another happy kitchen accident. A maid accidentally dropped the Governor of Queensland’s (Lord Lamington) sponge cake into chocolate. It can be served in squares or turned into a layer cake. Here’s a recipe from Jamie Oliver.
  • Macadamia nuts.
  • Pavlova (photo #2), a meringue shell filled with fresh fruits. Here’s a recipe from Jamie Oliver.
  • Shrimp on the barbie.
  • Tim Tam Biscuits, a beloved chocolate biscuit is made up of two layers of chocolate-malted biscuit, separated by a light chocolate filling and coated in melted chocolate
  • Vegemite (photo #4), the iconic Australian sandwich spread. See more below.
  •  
    Also Look For…

  • Beer: We haven’t seen these top-rated Australian beers on our store shelves, but maybe you’ll have some luck.
  • Finger limes.
  • Lemon myrtle, a relative of lemon verbena.
  •  
    WHAT EXACTLY IS VEGEMITE?

    As with Shake ‘n Bake, a product created as a way to use up Grape-Nuts crumbs that were sifted out during production, Vegemite was born of the desire to use, rather than toss, manufacturing leftovers.

    In 1922 an Australian businessman commissioned a young chemist, Cyril Callister, to develop a spread from used brewer’s yeast that was dumped into the trash. The British had a similar, successful product, Marmite.

    The name Vegemite was drawn from a hat of entries from a national naming competition.

    The spread was marketed as “delicious on sandwiches and toast, and improving the flavours of soups, stews and gravies.” Since then, it has become a go-to spread for breakfast toast and for sandwiches.

    More modern additions include Vegemite-cheese sandwiches, Vegemite and avocado toast, Vegemite pizza, and Vegemite scrolls, rolled biscuits with Vegemite and grated cheese.

    The “Happy Little Vegemites” jingle was first heard on the radio in 1954. The subsequent television commercial is below.
     
    AUSTRALIA TRIVIA

  • By total area, Australia is the sixth largest contry in the world, with the world’s thirteenth largest economy and the fifth highest per capita GDP.
  • Well-known Australian fauna are the monotremes: platypus and koala.
  • The name Australia is derived from the Latin australis, meaning southern.
  • Australia has the most reptile varieties of any country, with 755 species.
  • Before Michael Phelps was the world’s swimming hero, there was Ian Thorpe, fondly called the “Torpedo.” Thorpe won five Olympic gold medals, the most won by any Australian. At the 2000 Olympics, he won three gold and two silver medals, and was the most successful athlete at those Olympics. He also became the first person to win six gold medals in one World Aquatics Championships, in 2001.
  •  

    Golden Kiwi

    Lamington Cake

    Strawberry Pavlova

    Vegemite

    [1] The most recognizable Australian food in the U.S. is the kiwi, which is available in both green and gold varieties (photo of SunGold kiwi courtesy Zespri). [2] Lamington is a sponge cake topped with chocolate icing and desiccated coconut. Here’s a recipe from Jaime Oliver. [3] Pavlova is a meringue ring filled with fruit, created to honor the ballerina Anna Pavlova (here’s the recipe from Jamie Oliver). [4] Vegemite: as important to Australians as peanut butter is to Americans (photo courtesy Dean-Wilmot-Bauer Media).

     

    *The original Vegemite television commercial, which the person who posted it on YouTube calls
    “possibly THE all-time classic Aussie TV ad.”

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Savory Bread Pudding

    Mushroom Bread Pudding

    Applewood Bacon Bread Pudding

    Broccoli Goat Cheese Bread Pudding Recipe

    Individual Bread Puddings

    [1] Mushroom and radicchio bread pudding with Gruyère cheese (recipe below from Good Eggs/Tartine Bakery). [2] Chestnut and applewood smoked bacon bread pudding (here’s the recipe from La Brea Bakery). [3] Broccoli, goat cheese and tomato bread pudding (here’s the recipe from the New York Times). [4] Individual spinach-shiitake bread puddings (here’s the recipe from Food & Wine).

     

    Bread pudding is a popular dessert—sweet, custardy, comfort food. It turns no-longer-fresh bread into something sublime.

    Leave out the sugar and you have a savory bread pudding, to be served as a side with dinner.

    In fact, bread pudding was originally a savory dish, served as a side with dinner (for the poor, it might have been the dinner).

    It remains a welcome side dish, but can also replace a frittata, strata or quiche at brunch.

    THE HISTORY OF BREAD PUDDING

    Bread pudding originated in the 11th or 12th century as a way to use stale bread.

    Pieces of bread were cut or torn, combined with other ingredients (cheese, onions, mushrooms and other vegetables, bits of meat), topped with custard and then baked until the top was set but the inside was soft and creamy.

    Bread pudding is closely related to the Italian dish, strata. The difference is that stratas are typically made with more eggs than cream, making them eggier and more breakfasty—kin to a frittata or a quiche rather than a custard.

    The same ingredients can be used with all. The differences are in the proportions; and a strata traditionally uses milk instead of cream.

    A soufflé dish or casserole makes the nicest presentation at the table, but you can make bread pudding in a baking pan. Another nice touch is individual servings, made in ramekins, custard cups or even muffin pans.

    If you don’t like mushrooms and radicchio, substitute the same quantity of ingredients you do like; or check out the recipes in the photos or the list below.

    TIP: Proteins—chicken, meats, shellfish, smoked fish—are delicious add-ins. Dice or shred leftovers and toss them in.

    RECIPE: MUSHROOM & RADICCHIO SAVORY BREAD PUDDING

    This recipe hails from San Francisco, courtesy of Tartine Bakery’s Chad Robertson and Good Eggs, the Bay Area’s premium grocery delivery service.

    You can assemble the dish a day ahead and refrigerator it, letting it come to room temperature before baking.

    Prep time is 25 minutes, cook time is 50 minutes. Bake the pudding an hour before you plan to serve it.

    Ingredients For 4-6 Brunch Servings

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 leeks, white parts only, finely chopped
  • ½ cup dry white wine or stock
  • Olive oil
  • 2 pounds assorted mushrooms, stems trimmed and caps halved
  • 1 head treviso or other radicchio, leaves separated
  • 5 eggs
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Pinch pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2/3 and ½ cup grated Gruyere, divided (substitute Cheddar, Jack or other semihard* cheese)
  • 3 ounces smoked ham, chopped
  • 2 slices day-old country bread, torn into large chunks
  •  
    ________________

    *Semihard cheese is a classification based on the weight and texture of the body (paste). They are not hard cheeses, like Aged Gouda, Mimolette or Parmesan, but yield easily to a knife. Examples include Colby, Comte, Edam, Gouda, Jarlsberg, Manchego, Queso Blanco and “Swiss.”

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. While the oven heats…

    2. MELT the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté until soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the wine evaporates—about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

    3. HEAT a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is smoking, arrange the mushrooms cut-side down in the pan and cook without stirring until they are seared and caramelized, about 1 minute more. Stir the mushrooms; add the radicchio and cook until it is wilted, about 1 minute. Season to taste. Remove from the heat.

    4. MAKE the custard. Whisk the eggs and salt in a bowl until well blended. Add the cream, milk, pepper, nutmeg, thyme, 2/3 cup cheese and ham and whisk to combine.

    5. PLACE the bread chunks in an 8-inch soufflé dish and add the leeks, mushrooms, and radicchio. Pour in the custard all the way to the rim. Sprinkle evenly with the ½ cup cheese. Let stand for 8 to 10 minutes until the custard saturates the bread.

    6. BAKE until the custard is no longer runny in the center, about 50 minutes. Let the pudding rest for 15 minutes before serving.

    MORE SAVORY BREAD PUDDING RECIPES

  • Artichoke Bread Pudding
  • Butternut Squash Bread Pudding
  • Chestnuts & Applewood Smoked Bacon Bread Pudding
  • Cranberry, Pecan & Bacon Bread Pudding
  • Mushroom, Leek & Parmesan Bread Pudding
  • Portabella Bread Pudding
  • Savory Sausage and Cheddar Bread Pudding
  • Spinach Bread Pudding With Lemon & Feta
  • Spinach & Garlic Bread Pudding
  • Spinach-Shiitake Bread Pudding
  •   

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