These crystal dishes are part of my earliest memories of being in the kitchen with my late Mom. Mom was a great believer in not letting special things “gather dust in the cupboard”, of using them as regularly as possible and enjoying them. So when we made jello, we used her cut glass crystal sherbet dishes. In retrospect I think my Mom was a brave woman, as if memory serves me correctly we started to make jello together when I was about three or four. And I was not the most co-ordinated of children.
I was fascinated by the x and circle shapes cut into the glasses. My Mom explained that they were called ‘cross and olive’ crystal and that they were very old. They had belonged to my Mom’s own mother who had died before I was born and who, my Mom explained, she missed very much. These days, I understand exactly how she felt.
I remember the glasses lined up on the counter, as I stood stirring the jello and hot water with a wooden spoon, I’d be holding firmly on to the handle of the pyrex jug we always made jello in just like Mom told me, “so you won’t burn yourself, April”. Mom always used ice cubes to make the jello set faster, and I used to love to watch them melt into the hot, thickening liquid as I continued to stir. Then would come the time to – very carefully – poor the now cool jello into the crystal dishes, before covering them with plastic wrap. Then I’d carry them to the fridge, one at a time, holding each glass “with both hands”. I never, ever broke one.
Strangely enough though, now my Mom’s cross and olive glasses are here in my house, they’ve stayed firmly shut in my china cabinet – in view, but rarely used. My heart broke when I lost both parents within weeks of each other five years ago, and I’ve kept many of the things they left me safely shut away in case they got broken too. Recently though, I’ve found that the sadness of losing my parents can often be somewhat displaced by remembering the happy times we had together, and it occurred to me that Mom wouldn’t want to see her things shut away. She’d want me to use them. So the other day, I made jello and I used her cross and olive dishes.
This Raspberry and Rose Jelly and Cream recipe is a little more cosmopolitan than the Jello I made as a child, but it’s every bit as easy. Light and refreshing, it’s the perfect summer dessert, tasting faintly of Turkish Delight and Arabian Nights. I call it jelly because that’s what it is called here in England. As a child I didn’t think of Jello as a brand, but I have to remember that it is! Jelly is often made from gelatine squares or tablets here, although you can buy powdered sachets. The most popular brand here is Hartley’s but I confess I keep my eyes open for Jello, and even bring it back with me from Canada and the US. I made this recipe using Sugar Free Raspberry Jello, but use whatever brand you prefer. Rosewater – or rose flower water – is widely available in supermarkets in the UK. In Canada and the US I have seen rosewater on sale in the speciality sections of some grocery stores and in gourmet shops.
- 1 package raspberry jelly or Jello (to serve 4)
- 1 cup fresh raspberries, washed and drained
- ½ cup double, heavy or whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)
- ½ teaspoon rosewater, divided
- 1 tablespoon shelled pistachios, finely sliced or chopped
- whole mint leaves, washed and dried
- Prepare the jelly or Jello according to package directions. Use very cold water or ice cubes for the cold water part of the instructions.
- Stir in one quarter teaspoon of rose water.
- Pour the jelly into pretty dishes. Carefully add a few raspberries to each dish, pushing them down into the liquid. Reserve the remaining raspberries for garnish.
- Cover the dishes and chill until set.
- Whisk the sugar and remaining quarter teaspoon of rose water into the cream.
- Whip the cream with an electric mixer or hand whisk until soft peaks form.
- Garnish the jellies with whipped cream and raspberries.
- Sprinkle the pistachios over top.
- Garnish with mint leaves.