An Early Easter Dinner

Today we gather as the family Wohlgemuth around the table. It is an early Easter dinner, but it is the only time we are all together. The sun is shining and peeking through the windows. Everything is lit with a warm glow. We share the delicious food as well as good conversation. It is good to be together.

We start with a traditional Feldsalat, a winter specialty in Europe, and a delicious wine I brought from Washington. The Camaraderie Cellars in Port Angeles, Washington made a beautiful 2009 Malbec. My grandmother's specialty, lamb and semmelknödel with green beans and gravy, made for a delicious meal.

I was asked to make a light refreshing dessert with the melons, papaya, and strawberries that we bought yesterday at the market. Finally, I got a chance to create! A light gelee dessert, topped with fresh papaya and whipped cream, finished the Easter meal.

Papaya is my favorite fruit. I can't get enough of its delicate flavor. Whenever I have the chance to use this tropical fruit I take advantage of it. Not only is is delicious, it is has a lot of great nutritional benefits as well!

Papaya is a perfect touch to a celebratory meal because it eases digestion. The enzyme papain found in papaya helps break down the amino acids found in the lamb and other meats. In addition it is high in fiber, promoting good colon health. Vitamins C and A are also very abundant in papaya, characteristic of its beautiful deep pink/salmon color. Not only low in sugar, it is low in calories, making it perfect for a light dessert. Flavors of ripe papayas are best enhanced with a touch of lemon juice.

Here is the recipe!

Champagne and Melon Gelee with Fresh Fruit
Makes 5 servings
10 leafs Gelatin
500 ml Champagne
100 ml fruit schnapps/liquor (optional)
1 small honey melon
1 small papaya
4 strawberries
6 tsp sugar
3 tsp lemon juice
Whipped cream (for garnish)

1. Lay 5 leafs gelatin in cold water for 5 minutes. Meanwhile warm 100ml champagne and 4 tsp sugar in a small sauce pan. Allow the liquid to warm only enough for the sugar to dissolve. 
2. Remove the 5 leafs gelatin and press out the remaining water. Add them to the warm sugar liquid. Turn off heat.
3. Dissolve the gelatin leafs in warm sugar liquid stirring until clear. Slowly add in the remaining 400ml champagne and 1 tsp lemon juice into saucepan while stirring. It will foam up, just let it sit for about 10 minutes until clear.
4. Equally ladle the champagne liquid into tall glasses and place into refrigerator. Wait 2 hours.
5. Once champagne layer is firm place the remaining 5 leafs of gelatin into cold water. Meanwhile warm 100 ml schnapps with 2 tsp sugar and remove from heat. Make sure not to let it heat too long to keep the alcohol from evaporating. 
6. Cut the melon in half and discard the seeds. Spoon the remaining melon into a glass mason jar and puree with an emersion blender. 
7. Remove the 5 leafs gelatin and press out remaining water. Add the gelatin to warm sugar/schnapps liquid and stir until dissolved.
8. Pour 400 ml of the pureed melon and last tsp of lemon juice into the warm gelatin liquid while stirring. 9. Ladle the melon liquid equally on top of the the chilled champagne gelee. Refrigerate for 2 hours or more. 
10. Cut up papaya into small chunks and sprinkle with 1 tsp lemon. Let sit until ready to serve. 
11. Slice strawberries prior to serving. Top each glass with papaya and garnish with sliced strawberries and a touch of whipped cream. Serve immediately because the lemon will cause the gelatin to dissolve slowly. 

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