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I have been recently inspired to cook things again and St Heston’s current series is making me think of silly things. So, this weekend’s experiment was to make some jelly.

I don’t get on with gelatine. I’ve now tried three or four times to get ground up beefy bits make liquidy things go solid and every time, whether powdered or sheet, gelatine has not helped me along my way. I’ve had a proto-jelly wobble in a similar manner to water, rather than jelly, and the tasty surround of a pork pie work its way inevitably downwards through a crack in the pastry, as gravity often inspires, to puddle gloopily, but not set, upon the kitchen floor. So, I decided to expand my repertoire and use an alternative – our seaweedy friend, agar-agar.

Finding agar, outside of the mail order lists at the back of the posh cookbooks I am slowly racking up at home, is a little more difficult than I at first thought – I couldn’t find it on the shelves on my local Tesco and I was too lazy to get on my bike and ride the ten minutes down the road to Waitrose. Luckily for me we have a local hippy shop between Tesco and my house and a quick dart around to the ‘random food for people who thing they might have allergies’ aisle found me in the possession of a box of flaky agar goodness.

So, a recipe for my Creation above:


Make a gin and tonic. Add some agar flakes (1tbsp per 200ml) and some sugar (to taste – mine was a bit sweet, I think about 1 tsp per 200ml might be okay), heat it to a simmer and stir until the flakes and sugar are dissolved. Pour into a mould and leave to cool before sticking it into the fridge to set.

To Serve:
The ‘plating’ above is deliberately poncey. I like poncey. Anyways, it is a cube of jelly topped with some sour sugar (scraped from a fizzy cola shoe lace because I couldn’t find Sour Mix – I need a box of malic acid to do this Properly), a lime segment and a single grain of salt. All the individual bite dishes seem to be topped with a grain of salt so I thought I’d see what the fuss was about. I did a bit more experimentation (as I did have 200ml of jelly to eat through) and my favourite combination so far is a bigger piece of jelly with a smaller piece of lime, without the rind (which over-powered the flavour of the G&T jelly), and a small sprinkle of sea salt.

I wanted to go for a fizzy effect, inspired by an article that got me even more into the sciencey side of cooking, but couldn’t find any pop-rocks locally so I still have work to do. My final creation will hopefully not only have a coating of malic acid and popping candy, for a sparky and sour outside, but will also have a piece of candied lime embedded in the middle.

And a single grain of sea-salt on top.

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