Trifle. Or is it just a cake in a glass bowl?

It all started a few weeks ago when I was clearing out cupboards and posted on Instagram and Facebook a call for ways to use some old crystal bowls I have and am never likely to use for a number of reasons.

CrystalThat horrible dilemma when you really don’t like something, you can’t imagine ever using them again but they do have sentimental value and aren’t worth anything to sell. Some have been wedding or engagement presents and  have emotional ties.  If I gave them away I would prefer they go to someone I know or who is part of the family. I don’t usually have any issues discarding things I cannot see value in keeping, but these have worked their way into and under my skin. I think it stems from being brought up thinking these things were ‘the good’ stuff only to be used for special times and they demonstrated we weren’t poor when people came to dine.

I had many interesting responses on what to do with them or how to repurpose them, ideas such as creating some garden ornaments similar to these,

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or a bird feeder like this,

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or even as pretty vessels for burning tea light candles in.

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There was even a suggestion some could be used as the missile for the annual smashing  of our Christmas gingerbread house (cheers Stuart). That, I wasn’t going to entertain! Glass in the grass is not good when you don’t wear shoes.

Then came the trifle ideas, many voted that the larger bowl was definitely a candidate for trifle to be served in. My niece is a really good cook and sent me a couple of links for some nice sounding recipes, one was a limoncello one that looked pretty good. Celia reminded me she had a recipe on her blog that was easy as well as delicious and Francesca said she had a whole book dedicated to trifle and would like to send it to me. The selection in this book has to been seen to be believed, I will revisit this in the future I think.

img_0678I’m not convinced about trifle, childhood memories still make me gag at the thought. I hate custard, not the good stuff like creme pat, but the packet or store-bought goo labelled as custard. I also have memories of soggy peaches stuck into horrible, grainy  cake that tasted like sawdust. I do remember though that I liked the jelly and cream, especially if it was a nice dark jelly like port wine etc. Convinced by my cheer squad that a good trifle is great and I should go for it, I decided that my quest was to create a trifle to share with guests at our Australia Day BBQ. The research began and I must have looked at 100’s of recipes but could not decide on a finalist. I started to see the pattern of ingredients emerge so I winged it, convinced we would end up with yet another soggy, grainy mess.

Basically I was making a black forest cake in glass bowl.

This was my concept,

  • Layers of chocolate cake which had been sprinkled with booze which is traditionally kirsch in a BFC.
  • Thin Layer of  chocolate mousse
  • Layer of cherry jelly made using the juice from canned cherries and a splash of booze
  • Layer of black cherries
  • layer of whipped cream

Pretty simple  really. So this is how I did it, I made a jelly using the juice from the 2 cans of black cherries thickening it with corn flour and throwing in a splash of rum.

I made a simple chocolate mousse but thinned it down slightly so it wasn’t too thick. This was the alternative to custard part of the creation.

Annabelle Langbein’s Ultimate Chocolate Cake was baked  in 2 small round tins rather than one big springform tin.

Cream whipped, what can go wrong?

My cake was cut and ready to start assembling the layers in the bowl  but not unexpectedly, I had not been able to get Kirsch at any of the bottle shops. My next option was Cherry Brandy but no, not available either. I considered making cherry juice but gave that a miss. I took a leap of faith and decided to use some white rum as we had a supply of it in the cupboard. So here we have my Black Forest Rum Chocolate Trifle.

But look at the bowl………………..please ignore the creamy smudge. I know you wouldn’t notice it if I’d used the cut crystal but that’s karma I guess.

Chocolate Black forest Trifle After all of that I just couldn’t bring myself to use the crystal. I just don’t like it but I do think it might make a nice bird feeder! This was a winner with all of our guests, people could take a small spoonful portion or dig in and take as much as wanted. The rum was an absolute winner and I think that will be repeated if I make this again. There was no graininess, just boozey, chocolatey, creamy, rich yumminess. Now, a couple of days later the flavour and texture has improved even more. Verdict by Mr ATMT is that it was a cake in a glass bowl, a delicious cake in a glass bowl, but not a trifle. My internal psyche must have overruled I think.

Here are a few of our Australia Day BBQ snaps. Beautiful afternoon, great people and some great food for sharing. As well as my Black Forest Chocolate Trifle I made a Pavlova and peeking in the background is a lammington roll that a friend brought along.DessertsI baked a selection of sourdough breads. From L to R, baguette, baguette, sesame loaf, tomato paste, thyme and feta, baguette, caramelised onion and parmesan loaf (DELICIOUS) and a roast tomato focaccia. I believe the focaccia was great but the vultures devoured it too quickly to sample.img_2247 I was going to say we are so lucky to have such a beautiful area to share these events with family and friends, but it is mostly due to some very hard work on our part to create this space. Australia Day 2017

All worthwhile and we are lucky, very lucky.

 

 

 

 

 

Playing with new friends-Julia Child, Ken Forkish and Richard Bertinet

Dare I say it? I had never heard of Julia Child until recently and once I had, her name kept cropping up everywhere. Famous (apart to me) for being responsible for bringing classic french cuisine to Americans with her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  My 2nd new friend is Ken Forkish an artisan baker from Portland Oregon USA. I’ve read many good reports about Ken’s breads from a range of different sources so I was interested to learn more. I had reserved both Julia’s ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Ken’s bread book Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast at the local library and they were in, just in time to sample with this being a long weekend.

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I quite like the look of Julia’s book and it seems like it would be handy as a reference for the technical understanding of food and basic techniques and fundamental recipes.  I made 2 dishes from the book and I’m sorry to say either of them were anything special. I chose 2 that we often eat and that were a good comparison to what I usually serve. These were potato and leek soup and Carbonnade de Bouffe or beef in beer. I found both of these quite flavourless and we decided we preferred my way of making the dishes. Cudos to me!

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This was Julia Child’s potato and leek soup served with bread made using Ken Forkish recipe for Harvest Bread which is a wholemeal yeasted loaf made using a poolish (preferment of part of the dough).

I am thoroughly enjoying reading Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast and will play with quite a few of the recipes. The toast above was from this loaf, not quite proved enough but it was OK.

Forkish harvest

I was also keen to try some of Richard Bertinet methods, Bertinet is an acclaimed French baker and he has quite a different style to kneading from the ‘stretch and fold’ method that I’ve been using. More like a slap and tickle approach and it was fun  to try. The dough was beautiful and I will certainly research some more of his technique.

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This is a crumb shot of the loaf. I served this grilled with garlic and olive oil to accompany our ‘Clean out the Fridge Soup’.

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The beef in beer required about 6 cups of onions so I took the opportunity to make some slow cooker stock from the onion scraps, these plus what I had in the bag in the freezer collected over a couple of months and some of Mirboo Pastured Poultry’s chicken bones some celery, carrot and peppercorns  and it was into the large slow cooker for an overnight simmer.

Slow cooker stock
Slow cooker stock
Stock trimmings
Trimmings saved in freezer until enough to make a batch of stock.

 

 

 

 

 

Thank goodness for the slow cooker! I don’t know how I would get by without the 2 that I have.

The Julia Child recipe for beef in beer was OK,  but I prefer this Boeuf Carbonnade recipe. Julia’s just didn’t have much going for it, quite bland. I served it with mash, broad beans that had been cooked with olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper and some of the carrot from the stock pot. Photo not great but the mash and broad beans were good!

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These are the 4 loaves from yesterday L to R Ken Forkish harvest loaf, 2 of my normal Chad Robertson artisan loves and the Richard Bertinet loaf in front. Not burnt, just well caramelised!

4 Breads

Some other weekend highlights.

The freeloading chooks have begun to earn their keep again, very welcome indeed.

Eggs

Mr ATMT started repurposing some steel greenhouse shelves that I had tried to sell but had not luck doing so. We are creating a screen behind the mulberry tree so the shelves have been secured to make a curved screen and will be planted with a climber to create a green wall screening the utility area.

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We had a delightful breakfast of sourdough pancakes with mushroom, bacon, egg and maple syrup. Yum, yum!

Sourdough pancakes

There is an area near the front fence that is rather spooky due to the large and overgrown camellias, sweet pittosporum and oleander. One camellia in particular is beautiful (white one) and has been smothered by the other growth, so I am thinning out the area and hopefully the star will be able to shine as a feature tree. I envisage we will plant a rosemary hedge along this front fence.

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Quite a busy weekend and as I do this blog I am listening to howling winds whipping around everywhere. Hope all stays secure! How was your long weekend?