Cool foods, attractively shaped and prettily garnished, are guaranteed to revive even the most languid appetites.
One of the most versatile and decorative choices for a warm-weather lunch or light-supper dish, is a molded cold mousse. It can be prepared a day or more in advance, refrigerated, then unmolded and garnished just prior to serving.
Mousse, a word derived from the French, means ''frothy.'' Its lightness comes from whipped cream, a basic ingredient which is sometimes stabilized with gelatin.
Here are several tips to facilitate unmolding:
1. Brush inside of mold with light oil before food is added (except in the case of clear aspics, as oil can cause the surface to blur).
2. Run a knife around the contents of the mold before you quickly plunge the mold into hot water.
3. Wring out a wet hot towel and apply to the outside of the mold.
4. Tap the mold sharply, inverting over greens on a serving platter. Molded Seafod Salad 1 envelope unflavored gelatin 3/4 cup cold water 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco 3/4 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing 1 cup finely diced celery 1/4 cup finely diced green pepper 1/4 cup chopped pimento 1 cup flaked or finely cut seafood (tuna, salmon, crabmeat, lobster, or shrimp)
Sprinkle gelatin on cold water in saucepan to soften. Place over low heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in salt, lemon juice, and Tabasco. Cool.
Gradually stir in mayonnaise until blended. Mix in remaining ingredients. Turn into 3-cup mold or 6 individual molds prepared as above.
Cover with foil and chill until firm. Unmold on salad greens.
Note: l cup diced, cooked chicken or turkey may be substituted for the seafood. Serves 6. Spinach Mousse 2 pounds fresh spinach 2 teaspoons lemon juice 1 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin 2 tablespoons hot water 3/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper 1 teaspoon dill 1/4 cup mayonnaise 1/2 cup heavy cream
Trim stems from spinach leaves and blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes. Rinse under cold water to stop cooking, drain, and squeeze leaves completely dry. Chop finely.
Soften gelatin in 2 tablespoons hot water. Put spinach in blender and puree. Add gelatin to puree. Add lemon juice, salt, pepper, dill. Blend, scrape mixture into bowl and cool.
Fold mayonnaise into cooled puree. Whip cream until stiff and fold into puree. Lightly oil a 3-cup ring mold or other form and spoon in mousse. Tap mold on counter to settle mousse in container. Chill for at least two hours.
To serve, run hot knife around edge of mousse, then dip bottom of mild into hot water. Place chilled serving dish over top of mold and reverse. Garnish with cucumber and tomato slices and fresh parsley. Individual Chicken Salad in Aspic 6 slices tomato (1/2-inch thick) 1/4 cup white-wine vinegar Salt and pepper to taste 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin 1/4 cup cold water 11/2 cups seasoned chicken stock or broth 3 tablespoons mayonnaise 1/2 cup slivered, blanched almonds 2 tablespoons diced celery 11/3 cups chopped, cooked chicken
Toss tomato slices in vinegar seasoned with salt and pepper. Chill. Soften gelatin in cold water for 5 minutes. Heat chicken stock to boiling.
Add gelatin and stir until dissolved. Cool. When mixture is syrupy, add remaining ingredients and place in individual molds.
Chill until firm. Unmold each portion onto a slice of tomato and serve with lettuce and mayonnaise. Serves 6.