FOOD & DRINK / A-Z of Treats: Jelly

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J is for jelly, continuing our alphabet of sweet indulgences - port jelly, madeira jelly or claret jelly.


Serves 4-6

1 pint port (or madeira)

4oz sugar

1 1/2 oz powdered gelatine

juice of half a lemon

pinch of grated nutmeg

pinch of powdered cinnamon

red fruit, redcurrants, raspberries,

strawberries, black grapes (optional)

Soften the gelatine in the lemon juice and a little of the port. Heat 1/2 pint of the port in a saucepan with the sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon, stirring to dissolve sugar. Get it very hot, but don't let it boil. Strain through several thicknesses of muslin (or a clean J-cloth) to remove all traces of the spices. If you don't, the jelly will be cloudy. Blend with the rest of the port and pour into a large mould or individual moulds. Chill.

To serve, turn out on to dishes, and adorn with whipped cream.

You can incorporate red fruit (sprinkled with a little brandy or liqueur if you like) into the jellies. Pour a layer of jelly into each of the moulds, chill, add fruit and then another layer of jelly. Chill again. Repeat until you get the kind of effect you want.

The 18th-century chef at the Reform Club, Alexis Soyer, produced a claret jelly (use claret instead of port above) with a bunch of black grapes locked inside. The trick is to suspend the grapes from a string above the jelly mould when you are filling it, and leaving it to set completely before chilling.