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I adore the movie Casablanca. The romantic in me swoons at the palatable chemistry between Rick and Ilsa, while my social justice warrior admires Rick’s decision to choose the greater good over the love of his life. Blatant racism and sexism aside, Casablanca elicits my sentimentalities. The music, Ilsa’s dresses, pre-occupied Paris, flowing champagne, scary Nazis, clever self-awareness, fear of the unknown – how sad and magnificent!

For better or worse, alcohol plays a central role in the film. Bourbon, champagne, and French 75s have starring roles. The champagne cocktail, my personal favorite, is ordered by Laszlo as he meets his French resistance contact at Rick’s. Hence, The Casablanca gelatin mold is based on the champagne cocktail.

Several variations of champagne cocktails exist, but the classic recipe calls for 1 sugar cube, 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters, and champagne. (As much as I love champagne, I rarely can afford it! Instead I purchase less expensive Spanish Cava or Italian Prosecco.) The bitters and sugar cube offers a tasty, spicy punch to any sparking wine. The spicy sweetness transferred nicely into a gelatin mold.

Recipe for 3.5 cups

  • 2 packets gelatin
  • ½ cup water (for blooming gelatin)
  • ½ sparking wine for heating
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 ½ cups sparking wine
  • 8-10 dashes of bitters (or to taste, personally I prefer A LOT of bitters!)

Put ½ cup of cold water in a medium bowl and sprinkle 2 packets of gelatin on top of the water.  Set bowl aside.

Put ½ cup sparkling wine and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low boil until sugar dissolves. Add to the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in sparkling wine and bitters. Spoon mixture into mold(s). Put in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours


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This Japanese-inspired post is in honor of the Austin Bakes for Japan charity event on April 2nd. I’ll be selling gelatin molds at the Nomad Bar from noon to 2:00. All money will go to AmeriCares relief efforts in Japan.

For this gelatin mold, I used plum wine (a traditional Japanese favorite), Cava (a not-so-sweet Spanish sparkling wine), elderflower syrup (an affordable substitute for the fantastic St. Germain), and blueberries. The plum wine and elderflower syrup added a fruit and floral sweetness to the bubbly Cava. The gelatinous result was really foamy, see all the bubbles? The sweet and boozy carbonation in solid form created a surprisingly odd yet fun tactual experience – I could feel the tasty bubbles popping in my mouth.

Recipe for 3.5 Cups

  • 2 packets Knox gelatin
  • ½ cup water (for blooming)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 ¾  cups Cava (or other sparkling wine)
  • ½ cup plum wine
  • ¼ cup Elderflower Syrup (or St. Germain)
  • ½ cup blueberries (or other berry of choice)

Put ½ cup of cold water in a medium bowl and sprinkle 2 packets of gelatin on top of the water.  Set bowl aside.

Put rest of water over medium heat and bring to a low boil. Remove from heat add hot water to the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in Cava, plum wine, and elderflower syrup.

Put mixture in refrigerator (or freezer) until thickened to a soft gel consistency. It should be easy to stir but thick enough to hold the blueberries. Stir in blueberries and spoon mixture into mold(s). Put in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours.

“I know a girl who reminds me of Cher
She’s always changing
The color of her hair
She don’t use nothing
That ya buy at the store
She likes her hair to be real orange
She uses tangerines.”

Like any rock and roll junkie hailing from Oklahoma, I love The Flaming Lips. Here I celebrate one of my all-time favorite bands the only way I know how – with a boozy gelatin mold. Inspired by their popular song, “She Don’t Use Jelly,” this gelatin combines the fantasticness of tangerines and sparkling wine – think tangerine mimosas. Yum…

Recipe for 3.5 cups

  • 2 packets Knox gelatin
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 ¾ cups freshly squeezed tangerine juice, strained to remove pulp
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup sparkling wine (I prefer Cava, but a Prosecco or Champagne would work as well)

Put ½ cup of cold water in a medium bowl and sprinkle 2 packets of gelatin on top of the water.  Set bowl aside.

Put tangerine juice and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low boil until sugar dissolves. Add to the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in sparkling wine. Spoon mixture into mold(s). Put in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours.

Lambrusco, an Italian wine from the Emilia-Romagna region, is a lovely summer wine. While wine connoisseurs often snub Lambrusco, it has regained a small popularity in recent years (check out this article). Personally, I enjoy its soft berry sweetness and slight effervescence. Served with a few ice cubes, Lambrusco is perfect for blistering hot Texas cookouts.

Translating Lambrusco into a gelatin mold involved adding water, a little sugar, and bloomed gelatin to 3-cups of wine. In addition to using the grape mold seen above, I flaked the gelatin and added blackberries and mandarin oranges (see picture right). “Flaking” involves breaking the gelatin into tiny pieces with a ricer, colander, or fork. My attempt of flaking was not very successful – as you can see the gelatin turned into mush – but the Lambrusco tasted great with the blackberries and mandarin oranges!

Based on my friend Monti’s favorite “girls night” cocktail, the French Bohemia is made with sparking wine, St. Germain (elderflower liqueur), and blackberries. Since St. Germain is quite expensive, I substituted it with elderflower flavoring syrup. The sparkling wine (I used prosecco) gives a light sparkling texture while the elderflower syrup provides a subdued and floral sweetness.

French Bohemia (recipe for 3.5 cups)

  • 2 packets Knox gelatin
  • ¼ cup water (for blooming)
  • 2 ½  cups sparking wine
  • ¾ cup Elderflower Syrup (or St. Germain)
  • ½ cup blackberries (or other berry of choice)

Put ¼ cup of cold water in a medium bowl and sprinkle 2 packets of gelatin on top of the water.  Set bowl aside.

Put Elderflower syrup or St. Germain over medium heat and bring to a low boil. Remove from heat add to gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in sparkling wine.

Put mixture in refrigerator (or freezer) until thickened to a soft gel consistency. It should be easy to stir but thick enough to hold the blackberries. Stir in blackberries and spoon mixture into mold(s). Put in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours.

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