Sunday, January 18, 2009
Crazy Jelled Edibles
Browsing around other Bento sites, I found French Bento who does beautiful vegan bentos and makes pretty shaped aspics using agar-agar, the vegan's preferred jelling agent which does not use animal products. We spotted an envelope of agar-agar in the oriental grocery yesterday morning so I decided to try it out.
Agar-agar has many health benefits of a vague nature, but it also has the virtue of keeping things jelled at room temperature and even under some heating; nothing melts this stuff once it has grown firm.
In the plate above you see two creations using A-A and one using traditional Jello: the red square is cranberry-orange aspic, a savory to have with a square of cheese or something. The green blocks are carrot-frond aspic to be served over a bed of grated carrots with ginger. The round thing is a Jello jiggler made in a small muffin tin. Jello Jigglers (made with less water than normal Jello) will also hold at room temperature all day. Why I am suddenly fascinated with jelled things I do not know.
We tried out the cranberry aspic with steaks last night and found it to be excellent. In case you are interested here's how to make it -- and you could vary the ingredients a lot, and cut them in cute shapes for your Bento adventures:
Combine in a bowl:
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp zest of a satsuma or orange
one small apple, cored & cut in chunks
one peeled satsuma or orange, cut in big chunks
juice of a few key limes or one regular lime
1 1/2 cups of pomegranete juice
Chop in a blender until it is a nice pureed mush. Put in saucepan and mix in 2 tablespoons of agar-agar powder. Heat gradually to a nice bubbly boil and cook & stir for one minute.
Remove from heat, cool slightly, then pour in to greased (Pam spray) pan -- I used a 9 inch square Pyrex one. Once it is cooled and starting to set, refrigerate. Cut as desired when you are ready to pack your Bento!
This is not a sweet aspic but the apple gives it some sweetness. You could certainly add sugar if you wanted it on the sweeter side. I can't wait to make shapes and create frightening EmoFood out of these!!