Before we delve into this week’s recipe, I’d like to share something that’s been bugging me for a few days. Now, I’m sure you’re reading this thanks to phonics, that wonderful system by which a word like “antidisestablishmentarianism” can be broken down into reasonable sections, and thereby pronounced. Unfortunately, phonics fails me when I have to use Knox Gelatine in a recipe. It’s that pesky “e” at the end of the word. It makes a long-I, which says EYE, instead of a short-I, which says EEE. So, a word spelled G-E-L-A-T-I-N-E is technically correctly pronounced “jell-a-tyne.” Without an “e”, it would be “jell-a-tin.”
So when I see Gelatine, I hear “gelatin” in my head because that’s a much more familiar pronunciation (even Firefox spellcheck is refusing to acknowledge gelatine as valid). But I see the “e” at the end and an annoying little voice shouts, “Jell-a-TYNE! Um… jell-a-teen?” This results in a temporarily distraction from my normal sensible approach to food, and I end up cooking something like Jellied Bouillon with Frankfurters.
(I actually found this after first landing on the terrifying Corned Tongue in Aspic. I will not buy tongue. It’s not gonna happen. Look elsewhere for sheer masochism. I don’t even know where to buy tongue, and I am not going to find out.)
JELLIED BOUILLON WITH FRANKFURTERS
Use beef stock; place frankfurters upright; hard-cooked eggs, sliced; diced celery. Frankfurters take on new glamour in this gleaming aspic.
From 500 Snacks: Bright Ideas for Entertaining (1941), Culinary Arts Institute
Glamour indeed. I challenge anyone to come up with a sentence using both “frankfurters” and “glamour” — and I won’t accept “Frankfurters are not usually associated with glamour.”
Anyway, Jellied Bouillon with Frankfurters appeared quite simple, like any good ingredient-centric recipe. I decided to jazz it up a little bit by making the frankfurters more visually appealing. (I had to do something — my hot dogs were too tall to fit in my bundt pan.) You can’t do much with diced celery, jellied bullion, or sliced eggs — but hot dogs, those turn into adorable little octopi.
Cut the bottom of the hot dog into 8 eighths, cook, and voila, curly little legs. You can even carve teeny smiles and eyes into them. Guaranteed to make preschoolers happy.
Once the eggs and celery were cut up and my hot dogs were octopussed, they all went into the bundt pan
and got covered with gelatined broth. (Ewwwww.)
Then it sat in the fridge for two hours. Reeeeally easy. Even popping it out of the mold was easy. But that’s when I started to have some misgivings. Some of the bouillon I’d used to make broth hadn’t dissolved, so there was some grit on top of the molded ring. You also couldn’t see anything besides the hard-boiled egg slices. The aspic was not “gleaming” so much as “very muddy”.
The pretty celery leaf garnish didn’t help. It tasted worse than it looked. Much worse.
While hot dogs, celery, and egg are tasty on their own, or even together, they are NOT tasty when coated in salty beef jelly. In fact, they are downright disgusting. Even hours after dinner, my stomach was angrily reminding me that I was a horrible person for expecting it to digest this foul mush. Utterly revolting.
It was just wrong. It should be sent to the Fail Blog. It was so bad I gave my child a piece of cake instead to try to make up for this heap of crap. If I cooked like this regularly, it would be grounds for divorce — if the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, this dish is a shortcut to a restraining order.
But on the plus side, the preschooler was very pleased with the octopi, and the dog thought he had gone to heaven when he got the vast quantities of leftovers. And it was a hell of a good laugh.