Monday, November 24, 2008

Killer Trifle (and Other Delights)

We had a few friends over for dinner on Saturday night, which meant that for most of last week I was preoccupied with planning, researching, shopping for and preparing a feast for the occasion. With so many dietary requirements to cater for (a coeliac, a vegan, one nut-allergic and one lactose-intolerant person), this proved quite a challenge - but one to which I rose with my usual foodie enthusiasm. Rather than serving up a sit-down meal (which makes more work for the hosts and means guests feel obliged to eat what's on their plate), we went for a more informal help-yourself buffet arrangement, comprising of the following:
  • Butternut squash, sweet potato, roasted garlic and ginger soup
  • Spicy roasted vegetable, tomato and rice soup (which was actually more like a stew)
  • Home-made garlic and sundried tomato focaccia bread
  • Home-made granary bread
  • Gluten-free garlic naan bread (courtesy of Waitrose)
  • Cheeseboard
  • Various crackers and crisps
  • Garlic and dill marinated green olives
  • Jalapeno peppers
  • Rocket (delicious sprinkled on the butternut squash soup)
  • Houmous
  • Caramelised onion and goats' cheese tarts (courtesy of Ezinda, via Waitrose)
For dessert, I made three separate trifles (one vegan, one gluten-free and one full-fat-everything-goes version), all of which were eye-wateringly boozy. You may be forgiven for thinking of trifle as a garish retro pudding à la Abigail's Party; but not in my house - I have reinvented this most misunderstood culinary genre and made it my own. Forget any notion of tinned mandarins, bland trifle sponges, sherry or (heaven forfend!) jelly - the main ingredients of the Rowstar Trifle are rum and chocolate, with just a nominal amount of fruit (soaked in rum of course). This version was pretty much made up as I went along, with the odd reference to the trusty kitchen shelf, and went something like this (from bottom layer up):
  1. Chocolate cake soaked in Mount Gay golden rum
  2. Bananas soaked in Havana Club dark rum
  3. Simple chocolate sauce (from Green & Blacks' chocolate cookbook, with added rum)
  4. Mascarpone topping (stolen from Nigella's mascarpone trifle recipe), with a splash of Smith & Wray white rum
  5. White Chocolate custard (made like standard home-made custard, but with white chocolate grated in at the end)
  6. Mascarpone topping, as above but with melted dark chocolate swirled in
  7. Caipirinha syllabub (made with lime juice, sugar, cachaça and double cream)
  8. Dark and white chocolate shavings to decorate
Silence descended upon the kitchen as everyone (apart from Ian, who it turns out doesn't like bananas) devoured theirs with gusto and even, in certain cases (naming no names), came back for seconds. One poor guest (who shall also remain nameless) was overcome and had to have a 'little lie down' afterwards - surely the testament to a great pudding if ever there was one! Most of the meal went un-photographed (I can't think of everything), but I did manage to get the above shot of one of the trifles before it was totally demolished. Do feel free to request further elaboration on ingredients and method should you feel inspired to concoct your own; and I heartily recommend that you do.


  1. Gorgeous! I didn't even know there was cachaca in there! What kind did you use?

  2. There are a bazillion reasons why I love you. This is in the top percentile of those reasons.

    For the record, over the following three days it turned into a sort of fatale mouse, solid in a reasuring manner, and glowering threateningly from the back of the fridge. Every spoonful took hours off my life- sacrifices I was happy to make.

  3. It was white Sagatiba cachaca - I guess the best kind you can get in the supermarket over here. The syllabub would make a really good dessert on its own too - perhaps with some lime zest to decorate.

  4. I think Sagatiba is a great white cachaca!


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