Strawberry trifle with rose pound cake and violet whipped cream

An English trifle is comprised of delicious layers; cake, fruit, cake, fruit and lavish helpings of whipped cream. It usually has custard somewhere in there too. After we ended up with quite a crop of rose geranium plants, we decided to try the pound cake described by the Herb Farm Cookbook.

It’s quite simple – just make your favorite pound cake recipe. Place the leaves of a rose geranium in a buttered baking tin and cook the pound cake in it. This leaves a delicate rose scent and flavor, especially on the outside.

We layered with strawberries and lemon curd, topping our homemade whipped cream with candied violets from my favorite Parisian store, Hediard. For the whipped cream, add 1-2 tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar or really fine sugar (we’ve cheated and used normal sugar, it’s passable) and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

           

Homemade pizza party

Pizza parties are usually for kids, involving enough grease to power a fleet of bio-diesel trucks. How about a grown-up version you make at home?

We made two pizzas. The first was a taste explosion with goat cheese, garlic-herb olives, spinach, pine nuts and squash. The second was an elegant and simple affair with Beecher’s sharp cheddar.

Ingredients:

  • Frozen or fresh pizza dough (we’ve made our own too, but tonight was low key)
  • Tomato sauce or pesto sauce
  • Oil, olive or some such
  • Few tablespoons of corn flour
  • Choice of toppings (squash and other large toppings should be pre-cooked)

Directions:

  1. Follow the directions and defrost the dough, usually putting in the fridge for a few hours or overnight
  2. Roll the dough out on a flat surface, we used cookie trays
  3. Pick up the dough and move it in circles with your fingers, and alternate holding it by edges – you really have to do this awhile if you want thin crust
  4. Spread a table spoon of oil over the pizza and it, then take a tablespoon of pesto or tomato sauce and spread until you have enough – don’t do too much or it’ll be soggy
  5. Spread your toppings over the pizza, starting with cheese
  6. If you have fresh toppings like spinach, these should be put on after it is done, but frozen should go before
  7. Cook for 15-20 minutes, watching the crust as an indicator

 

 

 

Sweet rice pudding (kheer)

Tonight’s dinner was roast chicken with leftover rice (there’s sort of a trend this week). So dessert took center stage – the ultimate British or Indian comfort food, warm and sweet and milky.

Ours is a variation, not the thick traditional rice pudding that’s like oatmeal. Think more like hot cereal with milk.

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. rice
  • 1 qt. milk (may need more if the rice is very absorbent)
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamom
  • 1 fresh bay leaf

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees
  • Put all ingredients in a casserole dish, uncovered
  • Bake for 2 – 3 hours, depending on the rice

We made ours with purple rice from Thailand, which gave it the natural colour.

Bon appétit!

Mystery curry

Some days things don’t go as we plan. Imagine my horror when, after taking a bite of freshly seared steak, it tasted like freezer burn. This was no cheap cut, it was pricey and free-range from a local farmer’s market. There must have been an error in their packing, because I’ve never had this problem before.

This happened a few days ago and the cooked meat sat in my fridge, glaring at me defiantly. ‘Go on, throw me away and waste all that money,’ it seemed to sneer. I knew there must be another way, and sure enough, curry sauce came to the rescue!

As an emergency dish, the recipe is a bit slapdash – a bit of this, a pinch of that.

Ingredients:

  • Green rice (here’s my version)
  • Mystery meat (or beans as a vegetarian alternative)
  • Veggies like corn, summer squash, potatoes – anything sturdy enough to stand up to strong flavors and some heating
  • Your favorite jar of curry sauce

Directions:

  • Saute the meat and vegetables in a pan until warm (mine were pre-cooked)
  • Add lavish helpings of curry sauce
  • Heat the rice in a pot or microwave until warm

It turned out quite nice over leftover green rice from yesterday’s meal along with the last drops of the Torii Mor 2010 Pinot Noir from Oregon – bright, tangy and almost flowery, but with a lasting finish. It was probably a little young to drink but it was delicious.

I followed it up with a flaky almond croissant filled with chocolate, mmm!

Bon appetit!

Rosemary lemonade for summer days

For some reason I don’t like drinking plain water, but during the summer I definitely need more water. At a charity event, I discovered a delicious drink featuring lemonade + gin + rosemary. I adapted this to make a rosemary lemon water, but you can also use mint, other herbs or no herbs.

Ingredients:

  • 20 ounces of water
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1-2 stems of rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon agave syrup (or other syrup)

Directions:

  1. Mix lemon juice and agave syrup together until they are well blended
  2. Add the water and stir, then add the rosemary
  3. Slice the lemon and add a few of the pieces

This is a lemony flavored water, if you want real lemonade then use 3 lemons and 3 tablespoons of syrup.