Weekend Herb Blogging - Disaster in Gelatine

I don't know why I do it. I have never once succeeded in using sheet gelatine yet I still gave it one more go on the basis that the recipe I was using (by Tamasin Day-Lewis) was sound. This makes the following failure all that much more predictable.
Ricotta and Cucumber Ring was this most recent failure. It was one of those recipes that I had mentally tagged: the picture lures you, never mind the methodology. Weekend Herb Blogging (held this month by the originator, Kalyn at Kalyns Kitchen!) seemed like a perfect excuse to make it: I had a droopy cucumber in the fridge and some herbs looking sad.
In theory it sounds easy: chopped cucumber, some tarragon vinegar, herbs, spring onions, ricotta and whipped cream, all held together with gelatin. I know, it sounds terribly 1950s but it looked (at least in the cookbook) summery and sophisticated, pale and cool.
I followed the recipe to the letter, aerating the ricotta using a sieve, draining the cucumber so that it isn't completely waterlogged. Somewhere, somehow though, instead of a pale green ring of cucumber creaminess, I ended up with this:

I went to turn out the mould the next morning and just a cursory jiggle of the tin told me that there was not a hope in hell that this was going to turn out into any shape other than a big heap. So, trying to make triumph out of adversity, I scooped all the mixture into a bowl, sprinkled some spring onions on the top and turned it into a ricotta and cucumber dip. I served it with chicory leaves and various savoury biscuits (although I found it best with Ritz Biscuits). Even with 2 or 3 more additions of salt, the flavour just was not happening. It was bland and boring. I felt a bit cheated; I had wasted two containers of ricotta which I could have used to make pancakes with instead...Paul said he enjoyed it. I'm not sure if a firmer texture would have made it preferable to eat, a complete revision of some of the base ingredients could be in order I think. For those who are enamoured by this recipe, despite my none too flattering description, here is the recipe:
500g Ricotta, drained
300ml (or, as they come here, 284ml) Double Cream
1 Cucumber, peeled, deseeded and chopped into tiny dice
3 Tablespoon Tarragon Vinegar (I made my own by steeping some fresh Tarragon Leaves in some Cider Vinegar)
15g Gelatine, made according to instructions on packet (not that they seem to mean anything)
Handful of mixed herbs: Parsley and Chives are best, 3 Chopped Spring Onions
Cover the diced cucumber with a teaspoon of sea salt and the Tarragon Vinegar. Pour into a colander and leave to drain, covered, for an hour.
Drain the cucumber and ensure it is quite dry.
Prepare the gelatine as per the instructions. Leave to one side.
Whip the double cream until it is thick but not stiff. Mix in the gelatine.
Sieve the ricotta into the cream/gelatine, combining well.
Stir in the cucumber and herbs. Taste for seasoning.
Pour into a well oiled mould (a straight edged ring mould is ideal but anything without intricate curves and ridges).
Leave to cool overnight.
When set, turn out onto a plate.


Kathryn said...

Great title!

I am very nervous of gelatine. Coincidentally I bought some in Tesco the other day (leaf gelatine) to make myself have a go. I associate it with jelly and I'm not keen on jelly. What did you eat it with, bread? Maybe it would be better with sour cream or creme fraiche... or maybe best not to make it at all... there isn't much in that recipe to give great flavour, is there?

That all said it actually does look nice!!

Kathryn x

Anna Haight said...

You are brave to still blog about it! What a disappointment for you, but it was a fun read, from the perspective of someone having experienced disasters herself!

Helene said...

you are great to share this with us. It´s always near to disaster with me too if I use gelantine. So, don´t mind you´re not alone outside there. :))

Gattina said...

I haven't ever used gelatine sheet, sorry the dish didn't turn out what you expected.
In my area Italians make "fresh ricotta" and sold at grocery store, the flavor is a heap different (better!) from supermarket stuff. Hope you'll see it in your area too :D

Shaun said...

Freya, love - I doubt the flavors would have changed had the gelatine set properly. If it ended up bland to your palate, then the combinations of what went into it were bland. You did use the adjective "summery", and sometimes that sort of food is mostly adored for its cooling properties than actual flavour. Thanks for sharing with us already scared of using gelatine!