Monday, June 24, 2013

Special Edition: Rainbow Jell-O Cake!

Rainbow Jell-O Cake
adapted by Rachel Perlow
In honor of GLBTQ Pride Month, as well as the forthcoming Supreme Court decisions on Prop 8 and DOMA (as I write, they're still putting it off as long as they possibly can...) I bring you the shimmering delight you see above you, the fabulous Rainbow Jell-O Cake!

Now, as my mother would say, making this cake "ain't for sissies". You will need a good 4 1/2 hours of constant attention, so I'm sorry ladies, it's not the kind of recipe where you can complete a step then go to the other room and watch your stories.  This needs constant tending and attention, so if you're not up for it, don't even start.  That being said, I wouldn't be averse to you sitting in a nearby breakfast nook with a highball and cigarette, thumbing through People magazine while you create your masterpiece.

The ingredients you'll need:

8-3/4 c Boiling Water
7 pkg flavored Gelatin, 1 each of the 6 different colors of the rainbow, plus one extra, either red or purple
1-1/4 c Vanilla Yogurt (smooth and creamy works best), or sour cream, or cool whip

The first thing you'll do is line up your colored Jell-O boxes next to five large cups and 1 quart-size bowl or measuring cup. Put each Jell-O color in its own cup, and whichever color you bought two of goes in the quart bowl.  You can probably do whatever you want order-wise, especially if you're doing the highball method, but for authenticity's sake I urge you to do the colors in rainbow order, which you'll all remember is Red-Orange-Yellow-Green-Blue-Purple.  So, if you're starting with red, as I did, then purple will be the color you buy double of.

Into each cup put the Jell-O, and 1 1/4 cups boiling water (2 1/2 cups for the double batch).  Stir each color until the Jell-O is completely dissolved. I suggest a separate stirring implement for each cup, to avoid cross-contamination. You should end with an artful display of colorful liquids like so:
Lightly spray a 10-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray, wipe out, and off we go!

Beginning with your first color, pour 3/4 cups of the dissolved Jell-O into the pan.  Chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes, until the Jell-O is set but not firm (it should slightly stick to your fingers when you touch it. So keep your hands clean.)

While the first layer is chilling, stir 2 tablespoons of your binding agent (yogurt, cool whip, whatever; I used vanilla yogurt) into the remaining liquid mixture.  You should arrive at a Play Doh-hued mixture like thus:
Make sure to whisk or stir all the lumps out!
Pour the creamy mixture over the set layer. You'll want to either spoon it in, or pour it slowly over the back of a spoon, to avoid breaking the layer below. I'll demonstrate!

Chill the creamy layer, again until firm but not set.  I can't emphasize this enough. If you wait too long, your layers won't bind.

Repeat the above steps for each successive color. You'll find that each layer takes less and less time to firm up, which is why you must pay careful attention!

When done, you should have twelve alternating clear and creamy layers.  Refrigerate overnight. Sorry, this is non-negotiable, you can't expect to whip this up in the morning for your evening Pride march.

The unmolding will be a harrowing experience, I suggest having a helper on standby.  I set the bundt pan on a plate to chill, then when it came time to unmold, set the serving plate on top, then had Husband help me to flip it.  You'll also want to give your mold a ten-second swirl in a sink of warm water before unfolding, to loosen it up.

If your heart is true and your intention clear, you too will have a glorious and sickeningly-sweet rainbow cake to impress your next gay gathering (I mean, I'm not saying that the gays have completely co-opted the rainbow - this would also be suitable for children's birthday parties or Noah's Ark-themed Church functions, I suppose.)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Old-Fashioned Cole Slaw

Old-Fashioned Cole Slaw
Joys of Jell-O, pg. 58
I didn't set out for this blog to become entirely about gelatinized versions of your favorite dishes, but it does seem to be shaping up that way, doesn't it?  I'm going to have to do a little more research into this, but I'm starting to believe that gelatin, in particular Jell-O brand (America's favorite!) can change one's brain chemistry so that one starts to crave it, as Husband has been doing lately.  In fact, we almost came to blows because he requested a classic fruit-cocktail-in-Jell-O dessert, and I, being an already-busy homemaker, tried to half-ass it, and was chastised for not presenting a dessert that was just so!

And then came the miraculous day- we were eating cole slaw, alongside some grilled bratwurst. Husband had been discussing his hopes that another gelatin dessert would be forthcoming. And then he uttered a phrase that will live in legend in our household for eternity:

"Is there a way to put cole slaw in Jell-O?" 

Because, I mean, of course there is, there's a way to put anything in Jell-O, as anyone knows who's spent as much time thumbing through 1962's The Joys of Jell-O as I have.

So, let's get right to it, shall we?

1 package (3 oz.) Jell-O Orange-Pineapple, Lemon, or Lemon-Lime gelatin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon grated onion
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
3 cups shredded cabbage
1 tablespoon parsley
2 tablespoon pimiento

Dissolve Jell-O Gelatin and salt in boiling water. Add cold water; then blend in remaining ingredients. Chill until slightly thickened. Pour into a 1-quart mold or individual molds. Chill until firm. Unmold. Makes about 4 cups, or 8 side salads.

This is so simple to put together, it almost felt like cheating. In fact I did cheat a little bit, by using a bag of already-shredded cabbage instead of shredding it myself, but I figured the convenience cooker of the 60's would have done the same had it been available.  My nod to authenticity was using Duke's mayonnaise and French's yellow mustard. And, of course, I used lemon Jell-O, which is always the go-to flavor if you're given the option.

What we thought: Since Husband knew the ingredients already, I decided to spring the dish on an unsuspecting but good-natured dinner guest, alongside a baked chicken.  The tasting went something like this:

   Guest: It's like Cole Slaw, but better, cause there's this extra creamy, lemony thing.

   Husband: It's creamy, it's lemony, it's got the crunch of Cole Slaw, but it's not watery like Cole Slaw.    
   It's so creamy and delicious! (several "mmm's" follow this on the recording)

   Guest: I want this on my barbecue sandwiches from now on instead of regular Cole Slaw.

   Husband: Try it with the chicken, it goes great with the chicken.

   Guest: It is very good with the chicken.

I think I can claim success, and to think that even I was scoffing at this one.  But it works wonderfully, and this is coming from someone who doesn't even really like regular Cole Slaw at all.  Try it, ladies, at your next backyard party, and I bet you'll be the talk of the neighborhood!

Our Rating: Zero screaming husbands!
(all dishes are rated from one to five Screaming Husbands. One Screaming Husband equals a happy home where all problems are solved during cocktail hour. Five Screaming Husbands signals the beginning of divorce proceedings.)