“A dessert typically consisting of plain or sponge cake often soaked with wine or spirits (as brandy or rum) and topped with layers of preserves, custard, and cream.” –Definition of English Trifle, as found in the Merriam-Webster dictionary
I can still remember the first English Trifle I tasted years ago. Its soft airy whipped cream, comforting creamy pudding, fresh sweet berries and crumbly texture made for one memorable, heavenly dessert.
Having scoured my cookbooks (this was pre-internet) for an English Trifle recipe, but failing to find one that reflected the culinary vision I had in my baker’s mind, I set out to create my own.
I had just read Frances Mayes’ 1996 memoir Under the Tuscan Sun, in which she shared a Lemon Cake recipe that I had made, served with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Deliciously moist and fresh, I decided to make my first trifle with her lemon cake in place of the more typical ladyfingers and sponge cake that one finds in traditional English Trifle recipes. Read more
“I look forward to the spring vegetables because the season is so short. Mushrooms, edible foraged herbs, wild leeks, early season asparagus.”
“The first thing to look at is the tip of the spear or the bud. It should be tightly closed and erect, not open and droopy. The hue of green asparagus should be fresh, bright, and with no hint of yellow. White asparagus should be a clear, even, creamy color. The stalk should feel firm and the overall look should be dewy. Although asparagus, like nearly everything else, is now marketed through most of the year, it is freshest in the spring, from April to early June.”
–Marcella Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (1992)
Spring, like life, is short. Celebrate the sprouting of Spring with the recipes below for “All Things Asparagus”, the ultimate Spring vegetable.
For something sweet, enjoy a recipe for Drömmar Swedish “dream” cookies. Read more
“Nothing is so beautiful as Spring…[w]hat is all this juice and all this joy? A strain of the earth’s SWEET being in the beginning…” –Gerard Manley Hopkins from the poem “Spring”
Nothing is more perfect than a slightly sweet, light, ethereal dessert after dining on a plateful of pasta at an old-world Italian restaurant on an early spring evening.
You could say that the Italian dessert “Panna Cotta” is like tasting a bit of spring itself in all of its lightness, sweetness and silky, creamy freshness. A simple pudding-like dessert, Panna Cotta (which literally means “cooked cream”) originated in Northern Italy, where “the earliest recipes mention simmering the cream with fish bones (the collagen would set the cream).” Read more
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” –J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings*
We arrived at the little inn in the tiny village of Doolin*, near the Cliffs of Moher, in the thick darkness of late evening, weary and hungry from traveling all day in the cold, rainy winds of an Irish November. With few options for replenishment, we stumbled back into the darkness, down the narrow road and entered into McGann’s, the local pub whose cozy warmth and Irish hospitality would keep us returning for the following two nights.
With the luck of the Irish on our side, we arrived just before the kitchen closed, sitting down at a table side fire and enjoying a magical, memorable evening of nourishing food (the best Guinness Beef Stew we’ve had), thirst-quenching pints of “Doolin Ale” and soulful live Irish music that one can only expect in a town that has been deemed the traditional music capital of Ireland.
In the spirit of All Things Irish, we share three recipes below to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
Life is tough. Whether you are running across the country campaigning for president or running city blocks to the nearest coffee shop early in the morning, the moments of modern day living can sometimes leave one in a spinning, dizzying delirium.
As we come to the finish line of February, perhaps a bit weary from all the running – running to keep up with the 2016 presidential election, running to work, running a business or running a very crazy household – it might do your soul well to sit down for a quiet moment to enjoy a hot steaming bowl of homemade chicken soup. Maybe even contemplate a different perspective, such as what life would be like on Mars or back in the days of our Founding Fathers…
Enjoy below: the Winter Citrus Salad for some refreshment, the Homemade Chicken Soup for some comfort, and the Chocolate Peanut Butter chip cookies for some satisfaction. Read more
“Why, what’s the matter, That you have such a February face, So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?”
–William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing
The storm of a new year and all of January’s hopes, promises and resolutions have now settled into the mid-winter reality of February – a snow flurry of 28 days when daylight lingers just a little longer. Outside the window one can feel the cold frosty silence of winter’s expanse; inside one searches for warmth – a heater, fire, wool sweater or hot steaming cup of liquid to help ease the midwinter chill.
And so, if you have “such a February face” that is full of frost and storm and clouds, try one of the recipes for spirit warming drinks below. They are sure to warm your hands and heart and bring a little Valentine-red to your winter cheeks! Read more
“Good broth will resurrect the dead.” –South American Proverb
“Stock is everything in cooking. Without it, nothing can be done.” –Escoffier
In an ever-changing culinary landscape, I have come to depend on my daughter-in-law to keep me abreast of the latest food trends, which seem to be driven largely by her millennial generation. Gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, paleo, organic kale, “The Organic Kitchen” and “Wellness Mama” blogs, microbrews, sustainable wine, house-made sodas, artisanal coffees and bacon-flavored chocolates, cara oranges, coconut oil, almond milk, ghee and sriracha are just a few of the things I have learned more about when visiting her kitchen over the past couple years.
Considering that cauliflower seems to be what all farm-to-table chefs up and down the East coast served in 2015, I think it’s safe to say that it has joined its green cousins (kale and Brussels sprouts) as a “hot and trendy” vegetable in the culinary landscape.
So, what better vegetable to serve up in the New Year than this white cruciferous vegetable that is packed (like a snowball) with antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory and digestive benefits and lots of vitamin C, and can warm a January soul on these cold winter days.
From cheesy cauliflower soup to hearty cauliflower gratin to spicy roasted bites, enjoy all things white, light and healthy this month, beginning with the cauliflower recipes below.
Further below you’ll find another round, white “snowball” treat, perfect for afternoon tea! Read more
“Every year…millions of bottles of a fresh, fruity Gamay from Beaujolais are poured to celebrate the new vintage,” writes S. Irene Virbila in a recent Los Angeles Times article. “Banners all over France — and the world — proclaim ‘Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!’ French restaurants, of course, get into the spirit of things big-time.”
Shortly after the Paris attacks, when the world became more attuned to all things Paris and France, I viewed a show on television about the annual French festival, celebrating the arrival of the 2015 Beaujolais wine. What a contrast, I thought, between the festivities and the tragic events that had taken place just a week before. And so, when I came across an abundant supply of Georges Duboeufs 2015 Beaujolais Nouveau that was festively displayed for the Thanksgiving holiday, I thought it appropriate to celebrate France and support the Parisians by buying a bottle. Read more