We Really Really Like Shortbread

Kavi (age 15, on summer vacation) has realized that she can cook anytime she feels like it. Which is great, except that mostly she wants to bake cookies. Which is also great — her first batch of shortbread was perfect — but as you can see from the fact that this many cookies had disappeared within the first hour of her baking them, we may be in some trouble here. We all really really like shortbread.

Oh well. It’s not the worst way to go… and hey, the first strawberries from the garden are ripe enough to harvest. Isn’t that lovely?

I wonder if I can convince Kavi that she really wants to learn how to make fabulous salads…

My Poor Trifle

My poor trifle really was a disaster — it was sort of a tasty fruity soup, but not anything you really wanted to eat a lot of. We ended up throwing most of it out, alas. Well, live and learn. Kevin also noted that he doesn’t really like jello in trifle, and usually he loves trifle, so I think my days of experimenting with jello in trifle are probably done. We’ll stick to jello in parfaits…

But thankfully, my guests brought plenty of desserts — including the 14-15 year olds, one of whom had baked a ton of yummy cookies, and another who baked this incredibly delicious cheesecake, as good as any I’ve ever had. So impressive!

Last Stage of the Trifle O’Doom

Yes, having learned that not cooling your custard sauce and pouring it over jello will melt the jello, I said what the heck, I’ll do it AGAIN with the orange jello layer. So everything is very swirly, and even though the whipped cream + berries on the top makes it look not TOO awful, it’s definitely not what I intended.

It’ll taste delicious, I’m pretty sure, but still. Sigh. Oh well. The sauce had set more after chilling overnight, and while it’s not setting to solid, I think that’s fine; you want to be able to pour it over the trifle. I just shouldn’t have poured it warm over the jello.

I still think the concept is good, but if I’m going to experiment with three different new elements:

• adding jello to my trifle, which I don’t normally do
• adding passionfruit to my custard sauce
• making the sauce from scratch, without cornstarch, instead of using Bird’s custard powder

….I should maybe not try it when I’m tired and likely to take short-cuts. Sigh.

Trifle Failure

I tried it last time with passionfruit curd, and that was too rich and thick for trifle, in my opinion. (A thin layer of curd might’ve been all right, but I had much too much.) Instead, I went back to my usual plan, to make custard, but I was out of the Bird’s custard powder I usually use. So I tried making a traditional English custard sauce, and I poked around until I found one without cornstarch, because I didn’t think it should need it.


And it’s a great sauce, but I think I messed up. I was very tired when I was making it, finishing up around 11 p.m. last night, which is always a mistake for me, because I get impatient and then I make mistakes. I should’ve made the trifle first thing in the morning yesterday, so I could take my time, and it’d have a day to set. But no.

So I’m not sure I quite got it up to temp — it was thinly coating the back of a spatula, but just barely, I probably should’ve let it go another 5-10 minutes. Especially since I then added 1/2 c. of passionfruit puree to it, which made a delicious custard, but also maybe retarded it setting? Either because it was too liquidy or because the acid affected it? Or maybe I was just too impatient…

…because I barely let it cool at all (I really should’ve stuck it in the fridge and waited ’til morning to finish assembling) before I tried to pour it over the trifle ingredients, and as you can see, it immediately started melting the jello. Gah. I wanted clear, distinct layers, and instead, I got a swirly, goopy result.

It got worse when I immediately added the next layer, because apparently, when I am making bad decisions, I like to COMMIT to them…

Pretty Fruit Curd Trifle

Made a passion fruit curd trifle last night. It was very pretty, but I want to tweak the recipe some — it came out a little too sweet overall for my tastes. Less sugar in the curd, I think, and maybe make the orange jello with some lime juice instead of some of the water — you can do that with jello, right?

Might try this again for our Easter party. 🙂. If I get the recipe down, I can include it in the Serendib Teatime mini cookbook we’re planning to do later in the year…

Rose-Pistachio Truffles

(30 minutes + 1 hr chilling time, makes 35-40)

4 T salted butter
3 c. white chocolate chips
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 T rosewater
pink food coloring
¼ cup shelled pistachios, dry roasted and chopped fine
1 t. rose petals, chopped fine

1. In a small saucepan, melt butter, white chocolate and heavy cream on low heat, stirring, until smooth.

2. Remove from heat and stir in rosewater and food coloring.

3. Chill in fridge for at least 1 hr (overnight is fine).

4. Scoop out teaspoons of ganaches onto a clean plate or cutting board. Roll them between your clean hands into smooth round balls. No need to make them perfectly round! A little irregularity is charming.

5. Roll them in chopped pistachios and rose petals. Chill until ready to serve.

You Know How British Cooking and Detective Shows Are Great?

So you know how British cooking shows are great, and British detective shows are great? Well, I just finished watching an old series, Pie in the Sky (on Acorn), and it’s a British cooking + detective show, and it’s also great. But the one problem is that after pretty much every episode, I kind of wanted to have a pie — a steak & kidney pie, a shepherd’s pie, a fruit pie, etc. and so on. And mostly, I did not have pies on hand. Sadness. Woe.

But a few nights ago, I finally cracked. I remembered that I had some frozen Pillsbury pie crust that we’d bought for something at least a year ago and never used. And there was this chicken soup I’d made the other day, which was really closer to a stew than a soup, with plenty of potatoes and carrots in with the chicken, and that seemed like it was basically a chicken pot pie filling waiting to happen.

So I pulled out the pie crust and let it thaw for an hour, set the oven to 425F, and used a glass to cut out some circles and molded those into a muffin pan. Spoon some chicken stew in each one, stick them in the oven, and about 20 minutes later — slightly messy but yummy open-face chicken pot pies! Very nice with a bottle of rosé cider.

And I still had some pastry dough left, so I asked Kevin to cut up some apple into little cubes for me, and I rolled out and cut out more circles, into the muffin tin, pile in the apples, sprinkle some shredded cheddar on top, bake for 20 minutes again, and yum. Little apple & cheese pies!

My only problem is that we have now eaten all the little pies, I am now out of pastry dough, and I don’t have the patience to make my own anytime soon, I suspect. But on the other hand, I’ve finished watching the series, so it’s probably fine. 🙂 I’ll cook something else!

I Want Cake

This weekend:

Kavi: I want cake.
Me: So have some cake.
Kavi: Do we have cake?
Me: No, but we can make cake.
Kavi: Do we have cake mix?
Me: No, sorry.
Kavi: That’s so complicated.
Me: Not really. [pulls out tea party cookbook and starts paging through]
Kavi, seeing lemon roulade: Oh, I want that one!

Me [not mentioning that I have never made a roulade before and I’m pretty sure we don’t actually have all the ingredients for one]: Sure.


So we made the cake, and we didn’t have heavy cream, but between the lemon curd, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and coconut cream, we got to an approximation of a filling — well, more of a sauce, really. But we spread the sauce on the thin cake, and then we tried to roll it up, and it only cracked a little, which isn’t bad for the first attempt.

And we sliced it, and admired the spiral, and poured more sauce over it, and ate some, and it was just fine. A little claggy, perhaps, but satisfying the immediate need for cake. (Kavi and I did agree that it was not lemon-y enough, as lemon desserts so often aren’t, disappointingly, and we need to come up with our own recipe someday that will be lemon-y enough to satisfy us).

Then today, I had fresh strawberries on hand, and we had a few servings of lemon-coconut roulade left, definitely on the soggy side now, which to me, can only mean one thing — TRIFLE. Or at least, the sort of approximation of trifle that you get when you add fresh berries to cake and pour more coconut-lemon sauce over it. And Reader, let me tell you — it was DELICIOUS.