This is some trifling matter

By on June 30, 2013

trifle1The traditional definition of a trifle is a layered dessert made with cake, fruit, custard, and whipped cream. I’m broadening the definition to include a savory version of the dish.

I don’t know why this is called trifle, since trifle means something insubstantial or of little importance or consequence. In culinary terms, a trifle is anything but.

My savory offering of trifle is a cornbread salad trifle. My inspiration for this dish came from one of the Hawthorne’s trips — a jaunt across North Carolina.

We stopped for lunch in Robbinsville, in the far western part of the state, right next to the Cherohalla Skyway and Tail of the Dragon Highway, both sightseers’ and bikers’ paradises.

For lunch, we ate at Lynn’s Restaurant, where we enjoyed interesting views and I experienced my very first cornbread salad.

Today’s Cornbread trifle is brought to you by my interpretation of Lynn’s cornbread salad.
I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

trufle2Cornbread Salad Trifle
4 cups diced cornbread, toasted
6 slices ham, diced and sautéed
1 cup cooked, rinsed, and drained kidney beans (I don’t like canned beans.)
1 15-oz. can corn, drained
1 green pepper, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
½ red onion, diced
1 tomato, peeled, seeded, juiced, and diced
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
Buttermilk Herb Dressing

To toast cornbread, spread cubed cornbread in a single layer on a baking pan. Bake in a 300° oven for 15-20 minutes until slightly crisp.
Dice ham and sauté in a little butter until lightly browned. The Hawthornes usually have on hand Kentucky Legend double smoked ham, available at Food Lion.
Using a fairly large glass bowl, neatly layer all ingredients in order.
Pour 1½ cups dressing over top, cover, and refrigerate for several hours to allow the flavors to develop.
Save the remaining ½ cup of dressing to serve with the cornbread salad.

You could use your favorite ranch dressing, but I hope you’ll try Rosie’s Buttermilk Herb Dressing.

Buttermilk Herb Dressing
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
1 cup buttermilk
2 TB cider vinegar
1 tsp sugar
¼ tsp ground mustard
¼ tsp Kosher or sea salt (or to taste)
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
¼ tsp cayenne
Zest of 1 lime
1 tsp chopped scallions
1 tsp chopped parsley
1 tsp chopped basil
1 tsp chopped dill
The herbs are all fresh, not dried.

Mix all together.
Cover and chill.

Cornbread salad, where have you been all my life?

trifle6 I’m going in a divinely decadent direction and putting together some of my favorite flavors and textures. I’m making Pantespani from The Grecian Plate Cookbook.

Pantespani is an incredibly light and moist Lemon Sponge Cake with lemon syrup. Take note, because this is an excellent recipe to have on hand. Once you taste it, you’ll be hooked and you’ll thank me. I’ll be using strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries. I’m making a silky and elegant custard sauce, a Crème Anglaise, to pair with the strawberries.

I love the flavors of lime and blueberry together, so I’m making a Lemon Lime Curd, and tying the whole beautiful layers together with satiny whipped cream.

Whipped cream, Crème Anglaise, and Lemon Lime Curd.

As for the different elements in a trifle, they don’t have to be made all at one time. Make it easy on yourself. For example, I made the cake on the first day, covered and refrigerated it.

On the second day, I made the Crème Anglaise and the Lemon Lime Curd. On the third day, I bought fresh fruits and assembled my trifle, making the whipped cream right before assembly.

trifle4Lemon Sponge Cake
5 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 cup cake flour
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
Zest of one lemon
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup unsalted butter, melted

Beat yolks and sugar several minutes until light and creamy.
Sift dry ingredients and gradually add to batter.
Mix in vanilla and lemon zest.
Beat egg whites until stiff. Stir a few spoonfuls of egg whites into the batter to lighten it, then gently fold the rest of the whites in.
Pour batter evenly into a buttered and floured 9 x 13 inch pan.
Spoon melted butter over top.
Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes.
While cake is baking, prepare the syrup.

1½ cups sugar
1¼ cups water
Juice of one lemon
Combine all ingredients and gently simmer for 5-7 minutes.
Spoon cooled syrup over hot cake and let it soak up all the syrup.
When cool, cover, and refrigerate.

Crème Anglaise
1½ cups heavy cream
½ cup skim milk
1 vanilla bean
½ cup sugar
4 egg yolks

 Whipped cream, crème Anglaise, and lemon lime curd.

Whipped cream, crème Anglaise, and lemon lime curd.

Slice the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds.
Combine the milk, cream, seeds, and bean in a small saucepan. Adding the bean to the mixture imparts more vanilla flavor. Remove the bean after making the Crème Anglaise.
Cook over medium low heat until bubbles form around the rim, about 5-6 minutes.
Beat yolks and sugar until light.
Slowly, whisk ½ of the hot mixture into the egg mixture to temper the eggs.
Pour egg mixture back into pan.
Cook over medium-low heat, whisking, until slightly thickened, about 4-5 minutes.
Don’t cook this too hot. You don’t want to scramble or curdle the eggs. Whenever I make a custard sauce or a Hollandaise, I’ll sometimes hover the pan over the heat if I think it’s getting to hot.
The consistency you want is that of thick cream. Crème Anglaise will thicken up even more in the refrigerator.
When properly thickened, pour mixture through a sieve to remove the bean.
Cool, then cover and refrigerate.

Lemon Lime Curd
zest of two limes
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 2 limes and 1 lemon (½ cup)
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter, diced, at room temperature
pinch salt

In a processor, process zest and sugar until finely mixed.
Cream butter.
Beat in sugar and zest.
Add eggs and yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition.
Beat in salt and juice.
The mixture will look curdled when the juice goes in. Do not be alarmed. This is normal.
Pour mixture into a medium sauce pan and cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until smooth and thickened.
Within a minute or so over heat, the mixture has un-curdled.
Do not let it boil.
Mixture will thicken at 170°.
Let cool.
Cover and refrigerate at least four hours before using.

Whipped Cream
1 pint heavy whipping cream
¼ cup sugar
1 TB vanilla

For best results, I always chill my bowl and beaters in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes. This gives you a better volume when beating the cream.
Beat cream, gradually increasing speed, until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar, beating, then add vanilla. Increase speed to high and whip until stiff peaks form.

Now let’s make a trifle. It’s just a matter of assembly. I’m using a trifle bowl, but alternatively, you could keep all ingredients separate, then assemble into individual parfait glasses.

Here’s your checklist:
1 quart or more strawberries, sliced
1 pint or more blueberries
1 cup blackberries
Lemon Sponge Cake, cut into large cubes
Crème Anglaise
Lemon Lime Curd.
Whipped cream

In a large, straight-sided glass bowl or parfait glass, start with a bottom and side layer of Lemon Sponge Cake. Spoon whipped cream over cake to cover. Tuck in sliced strawberries around the edges and in the middle. Spoon some of the Crème Anglaise over the strawberries. Place another layer of cake and whipped cream. Pour in a layer of blueberries. Spoon Lemon Lime Curd over the blueberries. Keep alternately layering with cake, whipped cream, strawberries, blueberries, Crème Anglaise, and Lemon Lime Curd. The last layer should be whipped cream. Arrange blackberries on top of the whipped cream in the center, make a circle of strawberries around the blackberries, and then a circle of blueberries on the outside. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.

It is most fortuitous this column came out right before the Fourth of July. How’s this for a festive, patriotic, and delicious dessert offering for the picnic?

For more good eats, relaxing garden strolls, and cute fur-grand-babies, please visit with Rosie at Kitchens Are Monkey Business.

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