Jolly Jelly, you know what? I'm writing a book!


One would think the dark ages were a dark time... Reading books like Umberto Eco's 'In the name of the Rose' certainly leads us to believe that it was.
But the fact is that there was a love for bright colors that can be witnessed in the illuminated manuscripts from that time. On the table brightly colored layered jellies were made by boiling pig's or cow's feet into gelatin. It must have taken the cook hours to prepare, deriving the colors from blood, berries, vegetables and Essex saffron, the jellies were decorated and scented as magnificent displays of the cooks talent.
Jellies weren't the desserts as we know them now, they would be savoury rather than sweet most of the time, sometimes even encasing whole fish for a dramatic effect. 
Gelee of fleshe -meat jelly- was a traditional Medieval dish and made by cooking pigs trotters and ears, calf's feet and chicken in white wine. The jus and fat would then be reduced until it formed a jelly and the meat served with it.
We still have meat jellies today in the form of 'aspics', covering pieces of meat, vegetables and sometimes eggs with gelatine made from beef bones.
In culinary school, where we are taught the classic French cuisine we had to prepare a seafood jelly which was a terrible waste of perfect seafood and we also used jelly to decorate meat and fish with delicately sliced vegetables to then lightly cover it in gelatine to protect it from the air. Perfect for when you are preparing a buffet but a little old fashioned if you ask me.
But it is very fascinating to think of it, that a medieval practice of encasing foods in jelly is still widely used today, centuries later. Now the sweet jellies are most popular, in bold colors and fun flavours and shapes, it is still a showstopper on your table as much as it was in the Middle ages.


That showstopper effect was exactly what I had in mind when I bought a vintage jelly mould in a charity shop in Sherborne, a Dorset village that has remained unspoiled by time.
The mould quickly got a life of its own being baptised 'The Sherborne Mould' by two charming ladies of the village, enquiries about its use are being made and pictures of the finished product requested. I was glad to see I'm not the only one getting excited about a jelly mould, happiness can be found in the small things you discover in charity shops.

When I write this I'm getting ready to drive off to the - hopefully sunny - south of England. I will be on the hunt for stories and at the same time giving my husband the quality time he deserves. I've been a bit absent of late because of the exciting things happening in my life because of this blog. I'm so thankful we are both creative minds and always pursuing our dreams through our creative work. We understand those moments when your inspiration comes and all you can really do is create. Time starts flying as hours become minutes and suddenly you find yourself having to turn on a light because you're trying to write, or draw in the dusk.

I've been working on a project for months and now I feel I should tell you about what I've taken on, a project that will take me ages to complete to the level I want it to reach. Yes it is a book, my book, my life's work.
A celebration of British culinary history, lovingly painted by my warm feelings for Britain.



For this jelly I am using the vegetarian version of gelatine namely Agar agar, it is made from a kind of seaweed. 

What do you need
  • 400 ml water
  • 2 packs of Agar-agar (vegetarian gelatine)
  • 2 tablespoons of caster sugar
  • 150 ml Dandelion and Burdock, if you can't find it, why not use Pimms!
  • 1 teaspoon of beetroot juice (for color) 
  • Mixed berries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries

Method
  • Rinse your jelly mould under water and put it in the freezer, this will make the jelly set faster and make it easier to remove from the mould.
  • Warm the water in a saucepan and add the Agar-agar, stir well so the powder is completely dissolved. Bring to a gentle boil then add the Dandelion and burdock and beetroot juice and let the mixture bubble for a further minute. Leave to stand for a few minutes before pouring the mixture into the mould
  • Take your jelly mould out of the freezer, add fruit if you like and pour the jelly mixture into the mould.
  • Leave it to set, in the fridge if you like but it can just as easily set out of the fridge.
  • To get the jelly out of the mould, prepare a basin with hot water and dip the mould in it to release the bottom part. 
  • Turn out over a plate and decorate as you like.
You might also enjoy
Raspberry vinegar
Blaeberry pie
Raspberry and strawberry fool

33 comments:

  1. Congratulations! That is awesome. I am ever so happy for you. I can't wait to get my hands on your book!!!

    A lovely jelly. That is a treat I have always enjoyed.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Rosa!! It's at first stage so it will be quite a wait!

      Delete
  2. have fun writing, I'm sure it will be great!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow, such exciting news! Congratulations Regula! I can't wait to see the book. I'm sure it will be as beautiful, stylish and British as you are! :) x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much darling,so sweet of you xxx

      Delete
  4. So excited! Can I put my order in already?!
    Janie x

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yippeee!!! Its happening! I am so thrilled :) Also happy that you are both taking a vacation! Enjoy the quality time and get tons of R&R

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We needed some time away from it all, been great! Very excited!

      Delete
  6. Congratulations!!! Looking forward to it!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Congratulations, I can't wait to read your book !

    ReplyDelete
  8. O how exciting Regula! I'm pretty sure that it's gonna be awesome.. ;) Hope you're enjoying your holiday!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Congratulations! Such a wonderful and a "dream-come-true" news, isn't it? :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally, I hope I can bring it to the standard it is in my head :)

      Delete
  10. Ooh you were very tricky not to reveal too much about your book - I can't wait to hear more about it!! Very exciting indeed and no doubt it will be a feast for the eyes too. I love this jelly - it looks perfect! It reminds me of the Heston's Feasts episode where he does an opulent Victorian themed feast with absinthe jelly (have you seen it? It's right up your alley with British food history!). I grew up with agar agar jelly as it's used in many Japanese desserts which I love, but I have to say, there is something wonderful about the texture and consistency of gelatin-based jellies that melt in the warmth of your mouth, which agar agar doesn't do. But certainly agar agar is a little friendlier to most people who don't like the idea of an animal-based dessert! ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks sweetie, I will look that video up. You are right about the Agar-agar, but although I also prefer gelatine, I can't bring myself to use it if I don't know from which animals it came, I know I go far with this but I can't support intensive farming, even with gelatine :)

      Delete
    2. How do you feel about Isinglass? That's what I've mostly used as it's commonly called for in Italian recipes for things like pannacotta (called colla di pesce, "fish glue" - not so appealing sounding really but works very well!)

      Delete
  11. Put me down for a signed copy when it comes out. Congratulations. PS My Mum used to make a pink rabbit shaped jelly (from an old fashioned mould) and place it on chopped up green jelly (grass!) for birthday parties.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh that must have looked so sweet! I have once found a rabbit jelly mould but it has become one of those things on my list that I didn't buy and regretted afterwards :) Thanks Sally, my friends support means the world to me!

      Delete
  12. Regula, You are a star!! everything you do looks bloody delicious. I too want a signed copy....will hotpot make a feature in the book ? ;-)
    xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi dear Jo, of course the hotpot will be in the book! How can it not be!! :)

      Delete
  13. Congratulations! I am so pleased for you, and for me as I'm sure your book will be a total winner. Great subject and a joy to look at. Enjoy the hard graft! x Chloe x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your lovely words, and it's true it will be hard graft!! :)

      Delete
  14. Congrats on your future book! If there is one thing I love as much as making & eating food, it's reading about food. So glad I found your blog

    ReplyDelete
  15. Congrat Regula! I am so happy for you!!
    besosssss

    ReplyDelete
  16. looking forward to the book. I like to read cook books on a tablet in my kitchen so hopefully there will be a kindle edition..

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wonderful news, keep us updated about the book's progress - put me on the mailing list!

    ReplyDelete
  18. A book! How wonderful! And I know that you will make it just as lovely-looking and fascinating as your blog . . . can't wait!

    ReplyDelete
  19. how much does a pack of agar-agar contain?

    ReplyDelete

Thank you so much for you comment, I love hearing from you!