I promised in February that the Ripe Olive Empress Salad, Jello Mold, would be made! There was a delay, but it was made as promised. Usually I buy my gelatin in bulk but when I went to a new bulk food store they didn’t sell it that way. I had to go buy Knox from the regular store. Since I had been waiting for my trip to the bulk food store it threw off my timeline a bit. Plus I don’t go to a regular grocery store often, so that made it take even longer. Then one day the weather was good, so I opted for full 1967 style, kicked my son outside and strapped on my apron.
I only encountered one problem, and had two main thoughts.
Problem 1- We didn’t have any olives. My family doesn’t eat olives, not usually anyway, there is one variety I usually put out at Thanksgiving. We usually have a jar in the fridge in case I MUST have some for a recipe. So I reached for the emergency jar, and it was bad! Not a little bad, but super bad! Moldy inside and everything. I already had gelatin in the pan so I opted to just add extra hard boiled eggs, because what we don’t eat in olives we eat in eggs. Our family of three can go through 2 dozen eggs a week. not including baking!
Thought 1- Unflavored gelatin stinks. I always forget how much until I use it again. It stinks.
Thought 2- I can’t imagine doing this much work and food babysitting regularly. While cooking I felt certain that the jello mold fell out of style not because of taste, but because of time.
So besides the olive issue I followed the recipe as written. Notice the 1/2 cup sugar, I thought it odd but went with it. Since I didn’t use olives I added some finely chopped roasted red pepper. For that extra savory taste. There are two layers, the top layer of “olives” and eggs, in my case lots of eggs and no olives, and gelatin sauce. That layer has to stiffen up a bit and then you add the rest. The bottom layer is more gelatin sauce, chopped celery, red pepper, and grated carrots, The gelatin mixture has unflavored gelatin, sugar, salt, water, lemon juice, and vinegar.
After pouring the second layer into my classic Tupperware jello mold, there was a spoonful left and I ate it. Actually tasted really good. Not to sweet, not to sour. Yummy carrot flavor. I was impressed. This so far was something I could eat, and maybe even really like!
A few hours later the moment had arrived. Time to un-mold, “garnish as desired” (which in my case was no desire at all) and see how I did, and more importantly how it tasted! This is the first time I’ve used the actual jello mold, truth be told I picked it up at the thrift store for this exact recipe, but I’ve done other jello items before. So I set the mold in hot water for a few seconds, took off the lid, flipped it onto a plate, nothing. I set it back in hot water for a few more seconds. Tried again, nothing. Then I remembered hearing something about removing the middle section to un-mold it. So I did. FLOOOP! Onto the plate in seconds. Very satisfying sound too. I carefully lifted the mold to see what I had accomplished. Not quite the amazing mold I was hoping for. Possibly my heat bath attempt had done it in. Or maybe not. It’s wasn’t a puddle, but it wasn’t super firm either.
It’s not impressive, but it’s not awful. I decided to serve it up in wedges. Which turned out to be a bad idea. The side view of the mold wasn’t awful, though you can’t really see layers, but once on a plate the softness of the jello really just, well, you just couldn’t mistake it. I served myself a wedge with a
full egg half, then seeing how soft it looked, served a half of that size to each my son and my husband. They are much pickier eaters than I am, especially my husband. I knew going in to this that my husband probably would not eat more than bite. I told everyone they don’t have to finish it (a usual house rule) but “give it an earnest effort, for the readers!”
I served it up as a side dish, and we all dug in. Here’s the real kicker, the part that everyone wonders about when it comes to jello molds, the taste. It was good!! We all actually really liked the taste. My son does not eat stuff in his jello, which I had forgotten, so he said the taste is okay, but no way. He scooped out the hard boiled egg and left the rest on his plate. It completely slipped my mind he won’t even eat jello with fruit bits. I gave him a chunk of my egg and told him to taste it with the egg, and he said that really made it taste good, really good! But still no. His went in the trash.
Next up- my husband, he ate it, more than a bite, was actually really amazed by the taste, but threw maybe half, maybe a little less, out. He agreed the bites with egg really were good, really good. So clearly the way to go is to chop up any egg in your portion and spread it around.
Me? I actually ate my large wedge, and got another half an egg sized wedge. I really liked it. I was truly amazed and astounded. I feel really certain the jello mold DID fall out of fashion because of time. Well, until the next day. I’m not sure why, but the next day when I tried to serve up some for my lunch I couldn’t do it. Got one bite down the hatch and threw the rest away. The flavors just weren’t as well balanced and it lost something. So either I was being weird or it is really a eat it that day kind of dish.
All in all it was an awesome experiment. If another jello mold comes up in the magazine I’d probably make it. It also wasn’t overly “jelly,” the ratio of filling to gel really made it more like a dressing. It wasn’t even as floppy as jello with fruit in it. If you are a person who does like stuff in your jello, you actually might really like it! Just do yourself a favor, and eat it the day you un-mold it.