Friday, August 29, 2008

It Had To Happen: Tart Burgundy Gelatin Salad

I hail with joy -- for I am a temperance man and a friend of temperance -- I hail with joy the efforts that are being made to raise wine in this country. I believe that when you have everywhere cheap, pure unadulterated wine, you will no longer have need for either prohibitory or license laws.
-- Louis Agassiz, American naturalist

I'm not quite sure why more wine would be a good thing for a temperance movement, but I'm all for cheap, pure unadulterated wine bring tidings of joy. Adventures in Wine Cookery has two pages of nothing but toasts and wine quotations, which is why every post this week has started off with a quote of the day.

Take One Cookbook... has been going for over a month now, and there hasn't yet been a recipe for the cornerstone of any 1920s-1970s community cookbook. It had to happen some day; that day is today. Today, I give you: a gelatin salad.
Tart Burgundy Gelatin Salad

(6-8 servings)
Mrs. William V. Cruess, University of California, Department of Food Science & Technology, Berkeley

1 (No. 1) can shredded beets
1/2 cup California Burgundy, Claret, or other red table wine
1 (3-oz.) package lemon-flavored gelatin
1 cup grapefruit juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon horseradish
1/4 teaspoon salt

Drain beets, reserving 1/2 cup liquid. Combine beet liquid and wine; heat to boiling. Add gelatin; stir until dissolved. Add grapefruit juice, garlic, horseradish and salt. Chill until slightly set; fold in beets. Chill until set.

Wine Dressing: Combine 1 cup bottled mayonnaise dressing with 1/2 cup California Burgundy or Claret. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Note: This refreshing and easy salad would be very attractive made in individual molds, with a topping of the Wine Dressing, though plain mayonnaise or sour cream might be used if desired. Any left-over Wine Dressing would be delicious over a plain fruit salad. Wine accompanying the menu would depend on the main course -- probably a red table wine, if a hearty meat dish is served.

Yes. It's a Jell-O salad. Like I said, it had to happen. There will be more to come, oh, yes, mostly because I'm utterly fascinated by the molded salads of yore.

What's a No. 1 can mean? Think "Campbell's Condensed Soup" size. And, though it doesn't specify, I'd say you're safest using grated horseradish, not creamed. If you're looking for a specific grape for your red table wine, try a light/cheap Pinot Noir.

I did a little research on Mrs. William V. Cruess. Of course, the first rush of information was all about her husband, Mr. William V. Cruess. He was a leading food scientist whose accomplishments include promoting flash freezing to preserve fruits, and, yes, inventing the fruit cocktail. (I've never put Wine Dressing or plain mayonnaise on fruit cocktail, but I have to bet that Mrs. Cruess at least tried it.)

But what of his wife? His obituary mentions her warmly: "In 1917 he married his charming and devoted wife Marie Gleason Cruess, his constant companion and true helpmate for the rest of his life."

Okay, that melts me more than a little. "Constant companion and true helpmate."

Turns out that Marie Gleason Cruess was an artist. She painted landscapes, and had a few exhibitions. She and her husband were married for over fifty years.

I'd have thought a beet/pinot/grapefruit/lemon/horseradish/gelatin/mayo salad wouldn't contribute to marital harmony. I'm glad to be wrong. ... though part of me feels like writing a story wherein they thrive in spite of such dishes.


  1. I am seriously impressed by this recipe. I read the title and thought that it sounded completely and utterly horrible, and yet, once I read the full recipe, it managed to sound even worse. If that's not an impressive feat, I don't know what is.

  2. Two pages of wine quotes is great...but how many of them are from Colette?