Thursday, April 26, 2012

One day, three bites

I never do tutorials, mainly because around here, we don't have much to teach.  But I did something so well yesterday that I have to pass it along.  You will want to know how, I promise.

First, let me introduce you to Trifle.

Trifle is an English dessert, usually made in what looks like a large cocktail glass (technically called a Trifle Bowl-go use your new term with pride. "Her feet were bigger than trifle bowls!"). It usually consists of layers of cake or cookie, jam, custard, fruit, liqueur, and whipped cream.  There are dozens of variations involving chocolate, lemon, marscapone...just about anything.  It is one of my favorite desserts on the planet and has been ever since Hazel the caterer made it for a party I attended when I was about 8 years old.  Hazel was a well-known caterer in Memphis, TN, but she wouldn't share her Trifle recipe, and I'm sure she's long gone now.  (note to self: if I have a great recipe, I will share it.  It will not die with me)  I haven't made Trifle in years, partly because I might have consumed a whole Trifle Bowl-ful of the delight in 2005 and been dairy hungover for weeks.

So now that we're well-acquainted with Trifle, let me also introduce you to Book Club and the mandatory food contribution it entails. The past few occasions, I have failed miserably.  About a year ago, I made delicious cookies, only to realize that I had baked hair into every last morsel.  You see, I was a couple of months post partum, and my hair was falling out without any intervention from me.  It had tried to kill the vacuum, clogged the plumbing, and now infiltrated my baking. So my husband ate the cookies, and I brought a bottle of wine.  

The next book club, I tried to make pound cake. It completely fell apart.  So that time, I went empty-handed.

Yesterday, though, I refused to fail.  I was going to try a pound cake again, and I would get rave reviews.  It would be my crowning glory!

So here follows my tutorial.  I'll get to what I'm teaching you at the end. Please. Humor me.

1. Make pound cake from Paula Deen's recipe.

2. Feel smug until you realize 90 minutes later that the timer never went off.  And you're about 10 minutes late.

3. Cake is ruined.  Dry as "a tree" (according to Katie).  #$%^!!!

4. Realize Trifle will save the day.  Surf the webs to find Martha Stewart inspired recipe made with lemon curd. Lemon curd: delicious AND sophisticated.  The raves are sure to follow!

5. Pack up your kids for a trip to the Hyvee.  Bribe them with Spiderman fruit snacks.  Buy the curd, whipping cream, strawberries, and pudding.

6. Once you're home, have a sneaking suspicion that MS's recipe might not taste that good. Lemon curd and pudding?  Try it out in a small bowl. Feel heart sink when the bitter curd tastes terrible with the other ingredients.

7. Look at strawberries.  Look at saucepan.  Have a brilliant epiphany.

8. Dump cut strawberries and the sugar you have on hand into pan.  Don't bother measuring.  You're in survival mode.

All you have in the house.
9. Boil the hell out of the berries and sugar.  20 minutes. Mash with potato masher.

Steaming goodness.
10. Put mixing bowl into freezer to prepare for whipping cream (FYI: Cold utensils will help the cream whip faster.).  Dump jam into another bowl and put that into the freezer too for a few minutes.  Whip the cream.

11. Taste jam. Roll your eyes in delight.  Envision the accolades to be showered on you at book club.

12. Layer bits of cake in the bottom of a glass dish. Since your mother, when you were 13, asked you if you would ever want to make Trifle and then gave the dish away when you failed to foresee this day, you find a small dish of your grandmother's.  Your daughter says it's sparkly.  Spread jam on cake.  Pour on Jell-O White Chocolate Pudding you made five minutes ago.  Feel temporarily guilty you didn't make homemade custard. Get over guilt fast.

13. Layer more cake and jam.  Top with whipped cream sweetened with powdered sugar.  Garnish with cut strawberries you've already sweetened a tad since they traveled from California and aren't exactly vine/plant/bush-ripened.

14. Take your triumph to book club, where everyone is on a diet.  Seriously, everyone. One gal went back for seconds, but everyone else eyed it while munching celery.  Don't even think about guilting everyone by revealing how it's made with homemade jam.

15. Drink margaritas.  Talk about books.  Bring home five books and tons of leftovers.

16. Eat aforementioned leftovers for breakfast the next morning.  

17. Hide in the closet, and devour the rest of the homemade jam with a spoon while the kids yell, "Mommy? Where are you? Drew has your cell phone and just called Canada! And he's converting to Socialism!".

See, wasn't that easy? You've now learned how to spend hours making something everyone admires and nobody eats!  

I know I learned an important lesson with this exercise. Always bring something indulgent to book club, so I'm left with plenty to enjoy later.  

Bon Appetit!


  1. I like the moral of this story, Starr! It looks great. I wasn't so sure about the brown sugar when I first heard about it, but it seems to have worked perfectly. Enjoy your leftovers with a good book. :)

    1. I've been baking long enough to know that there aren't as many rules as Rachael Ray claims there are. Personally, I was more worried about the powdered sugar since it doesn't have the same baking tendencies that granulated sugar does. Most brown sugar (like the store brand I had on hand) really has so little molasses in it, it's not a huge stretch to substitute.

  2. Can you please explain to me what a lemon curd is? I understand the concept of cheese curd, because it's an imperative ingredient in the Canadian known as poutine. This lemon thing is very foreign.

    1. Guh. The Canadian delicacy known as poutine. Not the Canadian known as poutine. Although, there was a scandal recently and the alias the perp used was Pierre Poutine. But, I imagine cheese curds were not an imperative ingredient to his scheme.

    2. Ashley, lemon curd is also known as lemon butter. It is really yummy and sweet. It can be used a bit like jam or marmelade, but has a smooth texture.

  3. it's funny that your dish was sparkly... today my 'big head' was 'sparkly' as well... thank you alexander.

    oh... and next time you have leftovers that look like that - don't hesitate to share with your neighbors!


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