Sunday, February 13, 2011

February: Jell-O Cook-off!

This month the Coal Creek sisters decided to take a walk down cultural memory lane, exploring an ingredient that was dear to many of our mothers and grandmothers, and that lives on at ward potlucks nationwide. Strangely, this particular ingredient prompted a lot of nostalgic musing; as we each considered why Jell-O has been so formative to Mormon culinary heritage, we instead found ourselves lost in the reverie of yesteryear’s lost dreams. Why Jell-O made us think of the things we’ve given up and the struggles we’ve overcome, I don’t know. But since we didn’t come to a satisfying answer as to why Mormons allegedly consume so much Jell-O, I did a little research that night, and found this very interesting article:

Beyond that, I think Bill Cosby hit the nail on the head when, appearing before a joint session of the Utah Legislature in support of the bill to declare Jell-o the official state food, he said “the reason people in Utah love Jell-O is that the snack is perfect for families -- and the people of Utah are all about family."

Now let’s get to the results of the cook-off:

It’s a tie! Raechel Peterson and Sarah Peart proudly share the title of supreme Jell-O chef and the trophy of excellence for their winning dishes. Sarah brought a holiday salad that her mother makes every Christmas, and Raechel braved a complex and stunning banana pudding cake. See the recipes below.


Holiday Cranberry Salad


1 16 oz can crushed pineapple
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup cranberries
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup hot water
1 large package cherry JELLO
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 small un-peeled orange
1/2 cub chopped walnuts
Dissolve cherry JELLO and sugar in 1 cup boiling water. Add lemon juice. Put in refrigerator and partially set (about 10 min). Drain pineapple and keep the liquid. Add water to make 1/2 cup of liquid if there isn't enough juice and put in blender with the cranberries and the orange. Blend. add to the Jello then add the chopped celery, nuts and pineapple. refrigerate.

Nola Banana Layered Pudding Cake


From Emeril Lagasse


2 cups milk

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

5 egg yolks

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup water

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

1 tablespoon butter

1 1/2 tablespoons gelatin

4 tablespoons water

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 stick melted butter

9 bananas, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices

4 cups sweetened whipped cream

12 Ladyfingers

Sprigs of fresh mint


In a nonstick saucepan, over medium heat, combine the milk, sugar, and vanilla. Whisk to dissolve the sugar. When the mixture comes to a gentle boil, take 1 cup of the milk-sugar mixture and add it to the yolks. Whisk to blend well. Temper the egg mixture to the milk mixture. Cook over medium heat until it thickens slightly, 4 to 5 minutes, whisking occasionally. Dissolve the cornstarch in the water. Over medium heat, slowly add this mixture to the saucepan, whisking constantly for 1 minute. Using a wooden spoon, continue stirring for about 2 minutes. Stir in the coconut. Add the butter and stir until it is completely melted and mixture has thickened to a custard, about 2 minutes. Soften the gelatin in the water and stir into the hot custard. Pour the mixture into a glass bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap down the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Cool completely, stirring occasionally and chill for at least 4 hours. In a mixing bowl, combine the crumbs and butter. Mix well. Press into the bottom of a 10 inch spring-form pan. Bake until firm, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove and cool completely. Fold in 2 cups of the whipped cream to the pastry cream. To assemble, spread about 1 cup of the custard on the bottom of the crust. Arrange about a third of the banana slices, crowding them close together, over the custard. Next, spread 1 cup of the custard over the bananas. Arrange another third of the banana slices close together over the custard. Top with 1 cup of the custard and the banana slices. Top with the remaining custard, covering the bananas completely to prevent them from turning brown. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and top with the remaining whipped cream. Remove the spring-form and press the ladyfingers firmly into the sides on the pastry cream.

Slice the dessert into individual servings and garnish with fresh mint

Lady Fingers Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sifted flour

4 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

4 egg whites, beaten until stiff

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

powdered sugar for dusting


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 baking sheets with 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons of flour. Mark parallel lines in the flour across the width of the tray about 4 inches apart. Put the eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl, and with an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is pale yellow, thick, and has tripled in volume, about 8 minutes, using the mixer. Add the egg whites, remaining 3/4 cup flour, salt and vanilla, fold to mix thoroughly so the mixture is smooth. Fill a large pastry bag with a 3/4-inch plain tube with the mixture. Pipe fingers about 4 1/2-inches in length on to the baking sheet, using the lines as a guide. Dust the ladyfingers with powdered sugar. Bake until for 15 to 18 minutes, or until just firm on the outside and soft in the center

Rainbow Jello Salad


The sisters unanimously voted this hallucinogenic jello masterpiece ‘most visually appealing.’ Buy small boxes of jello in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. You need to chill each layer for three hours before adding the next one. And since the jello mix will be quite warm, April recommends using a ladle to add it slowly rather than pouring it all at once, which could result in a whole at the center of your construction.

She made this great video in homage of the jiggly star of the evening:

Homemade marshmallows


From Alton Brown

3 packages unflavored gelatin

1 cup ice cold water, divided

12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups

1 cup light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

Nonstick spray


Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.

Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Valentine Pie


1 cup water
Dark chocolate kisses or shavings
3 oz strawberry flavored gelatin
2 cups vanilla ice cream
Pie Shell:
1 1/2 cups Oreo crumbs
1 TBSP sugar
1/4 cup butter


Pie Shell:
Mix ingredients in a bowl until thoroughly blended. Press evenly into a nine-inch pie pan. Bake at 375F for 8 minutes or until cooked completely. Leave to cool.

In a 4-cup glass measuring cup stir together water and gelatin. Cook in a microwave oven, uncovered, on full power for 2 minutes. Add vanilla ice cream to the hot gelatin mixture, stir until ice cream is completely melted. Chill the mixture for 35 to 30 minutes, stir twice during chilling (the mixture should set so it falls as mounds from a spoon)
Pour chilled ice cream mixture into pie shell. Chill about 4 hours or until ice cream is completely set. Arrange milk chocolate kisses or buttons in a heart shape on top of the pie.

Pistachio Salad


Vegetable Terrine with Vinaigrette


From The Paris Cafe Cookbook

Vegetables of your choice (asparagus, green beans, peas, carrots, zucchini, peppers, etc), cut into matchsticks and blanched 10 minutes in salted boiling water

1 Tbs butter

1 shallot, minced

3/4 C fresh herbs (parsley, basil, chives, sage, etc.)

1 Tbs sherry or white wine

2 cups heavy cream

3 packets unflavored gelatin

1 Tbs chopped chives

salt and pepper

vinaigrette (recipe follows)


When vegetables are done blanching, rinse with cold water to stop cooking process and preserve color. Set aside. Sauté shallot and herbs in butter in large sauce pan 3-5 minutes. Add sherry or white wine to deglaze the pan. Pour in the cream and simmer 5 minutes. Strain out the shallot and herbs, and return cream to pan. Slowly stir in the powdered gelatin and simmer, stirring occasionally, for an additional 5 minutes.

Line a 1-1/2 qt loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving at least one inch hanging over each side. Scatter the chives on the bottom, then begin layering your blanched vegetables in any pattern that pleases you. Pour the cream over the vegetables, place an additional piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the terrine, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

When ready to serve, remove top plastic wrap, turn terrine onto a serving dish, unmold, and remove remaining plastic wrap. Serve with vinaigrette.


1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup sherry vinegar

2 Tbs balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 cups olive oil

1 Tbs soy sauce

salt and pepper.

Combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth; store in refrigerator

Crown Jewel Dessert


1 pkg (4 oz.) lime jello
1 pkg (4 oz.) orange jello
1 pkg. (4 oz.) strawberry jello
3 cups boiling water
1 1/2 cold water
1 cup boiling water
1 pkg. (4 oz.) strawberry jello
1/2 cold water
1 tub coolwhip

Prepare lime, orange and strawberry jello ahead of time. Dissolve each packet in 1 cup of boiling water and then 1/2 cup cold water. Pour them in individual pans and refrigerate. Let them chill until set (around 4 hours). Cut into 1 inch cubes.

Stir 1 cup of boiling water into remaining pkg. of strawberry jello in medium bowl. When completely dissolved, add 1/2 cold water. Refrigerate 45 minutes or until slightly thickened like unbeaten eggwhites.

Stir in 1/2 of of the whipped topping. Gently stir in 1 cup of each flavor of cubes. Pour into 9x5 loaf pan.

Refrigerate 4 hours until firm. Unmold and garnish with remaining cool whip.