Friday, April 23, 2010

Russian Cream

The summer of 1988 was for me a wild and crazy time. That was when I spent three months working in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a small western touristy town just south of Yellowstone National Park. Since my goal was to earn enough money to put me through another year of college, I worked five jobs. Beginning each day at 4:30 a.m., I was a waiter at a restaurant catering to busloads of tourists. When breakfast ended, I headed to another restaurant for the lunch shift. Then at 6 p.m., I was an actor in a wild west shoot out show in the town square. Next, I performed in "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" at the Jackson Hole Playhouse. And finally, I finished the day serving the late night crowd at yet another restaurant. Looking back, I honestly don't know how I did it. Just writing about it has worn me out. I think I'll go take a nap.  


I'm back from my nap and feeling much better for it. 

The reason for reminiscing about my Jackson Hole days is that this recipe for Russian Cream reminds me of those days. For the lunch shift, I worked at the Cadillac Grille. I did a quick search on the Internet and was happy to see it's still open. Looking around their Web site, I noticed the restaurant has been remodeled and they have a completely different menu. 

Throughout my summer at the Cadillac Grille, they had two weekly contests awarding prizes to the waiters who had the highest dollar amounts in alcohol sales and overall food sales. Unfortunately, I had two strikes against me. First of all, the daytime waiters didn't stand a chance in overall food sales against the evening waiters. And secondly, as a Mormon, I didn't feel good about pushing the alcohol. One day, I was called into the manager's office who showed me my sales compared to the other waiters. My sales were the lowest of everyone's. I was told I needed to sell more alcohol or look for another job elsewhere. After standing there for a moment in shocked silence, inspiration came. I asked, "What if I made up the difference with dessert sales?" My manager thought it over and finally decided we could give it a try. A third contest was added—highest dollar amount in dessert sales.

I was determined to win, and that's when I made friends with the dessert chef. I can't remember her name, but she taught me all about her creations, the methods of making them, and the ingredients. She even helped me come up with great ways to describe the desserts. And best yet, she let me eat anything that didn't meet her high standards (a cheesecake that developed a crack, a piece of cake not cut with laser precision, etc.).

And it worked! I won the dessert contest each week for the remainder of the summer.

Of all the desserts, Russian Cream is probably the one that almost exclusively saved my job. Whenever a ladies lunch bunch came into the restaurant, I knew it was time to pull out the secret weapon. As they finished their lunch, I would bring the dessert tray by. I could always tell by the looks on the women's faces they really wanted to order something but didn't dare. That's when I would describe the Russian Cream, a wonderfully smooth and creamy dessert with fresh local raspberries. I then would add that I had all the calories taken out. And before you could say, "Howdy Partner" it was Russian Cream all around!

And what I love about this recipe is that for all it's deliciousness, it's incredibly simple to make. Give it a try. It saved my job. Who knows what it may do for you.

Cool bowls, eh?
With fresh fruit, it has to be good for you, right?

Russian Cream


  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup sour cream (you may substitute light sour cream)
  • 1 ½ cups plain yoghurt (you may substitute nonfat yoghurt)
  • 1 ½ tsps. vanilla extract
In a 1-1 ½ qt. saucepan, mix sugar and gelatin. Stir in water and let stand about 5 minutes. Bring to full boil stirring constantly. Remove from heat. In a large mixing bowl, add sour cream. Quickly whisk hot gelatin mixture into sour cream. Add yoghurt and vanilla and whisk until blended. Pour into mold or cups. Cover and chill at least six hours. Serve with fruit (raspberries and strawberries are especially good).

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