I finally got around to watching Julie and Julia and was inspired by the aspic scene and also by Merrill's Jell-o foray earlier this year. With those two notions in mind I was looking in my freezer and noticed I had saved enough shrimp shells to make what I call a quick stock, and yes I save shrimp shells. It is strong enough to taste the shrimp but not overpower good tasting tomatoes. Some sort of home made mayonnaise makes a great dipping sauce for this dish. With the back porch fan whirling away above us, the birds chirping, a nice glass of Chenin Blanc and the sun setting it makes for a nice end to a great day. —thirschfeld
For the Shrimp Stock
a handful of thyme sprigs
dry white wine
whole black peppercorns
For the Tomatoes and Gelee
3 to 4
heirloom tomatoes, good sized ones, bottoms and tops trimmed and cut into thin wedges
hot shrimp stock, from above recipe
packets of powdered geletin
parsley, chives and thyme, roughly chopped
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
a nice home made or good store bought mayonnaise to serve with the dish
Place a medium sized stock pot over high heat. When it is hot add the shrimp shells. Sear them until they start to color and then add the diced tomatoes and onion. Cook until they begin to wilt. (I don't use any oil or butter for this because I don't want to have to degrease the stock. The shrimps shells won't stick and even if they do they will release from the pan once you deglaze with the wine.)
Add the wine, lemon, thyme, bay leaves and peppercorns. Let the alcohol burn off and then add the water.
Bring the stock to a boil and then reduce the heat so you have a brisk simmer. Simmer for 25 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Remember this dish is served cold (pates and other garde manger dishes need to be seasoned heavy but that doesn't mean you want to taste the salt) so you need to go just a little heavy on the salt and pepper.
Remove the pot from the heat and strain it through a chinois or a cheese cloth lined strainer. You should have one quart of good flavored stock.
Remove 4 tablespoons of stock to a small bowl and place it in the freezer to get cold.
Once it is cold remove it and sprinkle the gelatin across the top. Let it bloom.
Scrape the bloomed gelatin into a large mixing bowl and then whisk in the hot shrimp stock until the gelatin is dissolved.
Arrange the heirloom tomato wedges nicely in a two quart heat proof serving dish and then gently pour the hot gelatin over the top.
Sprinkle the herbs across the top and then cover the dish with plastic wrap taking care not to let it touch the gelee. Cool for at least 8 hours to overnight. Serve.