Tomato aspic is just one way to make use of gelatin – fish and fruit are also really good in a ‘form’, though to tell you the truth, a lovely fish mold can be made without gelatin… but that’s for another time. Today it’s all about aspic. It’s important to remember that you can add whatever you feel like to your aspic. Perhaps you’re a purist and don’t want anything added; that works too. It’s completely flexible (oh ha ha).
The secret to the success of a tomato aspic is beginning with a really great tomato sauce. I used the sauce the captain made from our tomatoes last summer, gently seasoned with salt, pepper and basil. If you buy a prepared sauce, you may want to thin it with some tomato juice as a very thick sauce can make a gummily unpleasant aspic. You can even make an exceedingly wobbly aspic from tomato juice.
The only important thing in the following directions is to check your gelatin package and make sure you use the correct gelatin/liquid ratio. Other than that you can do whatever you want; all the other ingredients are by way of suggestion.
2 Envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin – OR – 1 pkg. Panelangeli Gelatini in Fogli
3 3/4 cup tomato sauce for the Knox – OR – .5 liter tomato sauce for the fogli
1/3 Cup lemon juice
1.5 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
3/4 tsp. salt or not, depending on the saltiness of your tomatoes and your tolerance for salt
a heavy dash of hot sauce
1/8 tsp. cumin seed
Any or all of the following:
2 Tbl. chopped onion
1/4 Cup chopped pepper (green, yellow, red)
1/2 Cup diced cucumber
Several Tbl. chopped olives and/or capers
1/8 tsp. celery seed
1/3 Cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 Cup cubed avocado
1/8 tsp. cardemom seeds
1/3 Cup snow peas, lightly steamed
Anything else you think might be good
If you’re using Knox gelatin, soak it in a saucepan for 10 minutes in the tomato sauce. If you’re using the Italian fogli, soak the sheets of gelatin in room temperature tap water for ten minutes. Then put the sauce on heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat immediately. If you’re using the flogli gelatin, add that now, and then add the all the rest of the ingredients. Give them a good stir, taste and adjust any seasonings, put in a lightly oiled mold and refrigerate.
For the Sauce:
Mix Certosa or Philadelphia cheese with some mayonnaise, add milk to bring to your desired consistency, and add horseradish sauce. The horseradish is the secret weapon in the whole aspic affair. It’s a great foil for the sweetness of the tomato, and is just mysterious enough to make people sit up and pay attention when they eat it.