Entertaining with the Charleston Silver Lady
My garden is beginning to yield a daily handful of fat, sweet blueberries. All of the rain has made them swell to epic proportions unlike past years. Those of you who were in this area last year may remember there was a late freeze followed by early 100 degrees days, both of which made for a less than stellar blueberry crop.
This year, if my home garden is any indication, the berries are abundant. The plants have grown to way above my head now so picking is easy. Looking up through them while picking is reminiscent of a Tiffany stained glass window; the complexity of limbs, leaves and several stages of ripening berries is a beautiful sight when the back drop is our Carolina blue sky!
It took about 5 years for them to reach this size from gallon pots most are sold in.
You may want to consider adding a plant or two to your own garden; they are easy to grow and the hunt for berries each early June is something I look forward to.
The recipe I am sharing with you today is but one of many that exist throughout the South and into New England. I was served this years ago and remember every detail as it made such am impression. This is simple and requires just a little time and planning.
Champagne Blueberry Aspic
2 packages of Aspic/Gelatin
Zest of 1 orange
1 cup room temperature fresh blueberries
1/2 cup of regular white sugar
One bottle of fresh champagne
Make a double batch of aspic (gelatin) according to the directions on the package. The exception is that you will be using champagne instead of water. Add and dissolve the 1/2 cup of sugar.
Using a decorative mold, place 1/2 of the prepared aspic inside. Allow it to cool in the refrigerator and begin to congeal. Do not let the aspic congeal all the way, just let it begin to congeal.
Once this process has begun, take out the chilling aspic and add the blueberries and the orange zest. Do not worry if the berries begin to sink. This is the desired effect. They will naturally suspend through out the congealing aspic. Pour the reserved, non-congealed aspic over the top, placing in the refrigerator to congeal 4 hours or so.
Unmold onto an appropriate size pedestal serving plate. Garnish with any left over blueberries and orange zest. Add a sprig or two of mint to the top and serve right away.
Serve by using a silver implement called an “aspic trowel” made just for the purpose of serving this delicate and exciting treat.
Slice into inch-thick slices and place each slice on a silver bread and butter plate, a Limoges dessert plate or any small plates you may have. Provide each person with a salad/cake fork.
I was first served this in a garden in Charleston by my dear friend who was known as the “Countess of Charleston.” She lives only in my memory, yet remains with me through her recipes and social habits.
We met when she was in her 60s and I was about 12. She was the embodiment of what we now see on period British programs and I loved her dearly. She was my very own Mary Poppins!
She would serve the remaining champagne along with the aspic. She used tiny crystal glasses from the 1860s hand engraved with an English courting scene.
Through these friendships my life was enriched. Perhaps you will try this recipe and it will do the same for you.
Something as simple as a blueberry and luxurious as a good bottle of champagne are a match made in heaven.
PS. If you are in a hurry, use lemon jello following along with the rest of the recipe. It will not be as good but it will be a quick, successful and astunning finale’ to any summer meal. Cheers!