Trifles are a festive and elegant dessert, perfect for holiday gatherings.The earliest known use of the name trifle was for a thick cream flavored with sugar, ginger and rosewater, the recipe for which was published in England, 1596, in a book called "The Good Huswife's Jewell" by Thomas Dawson. It wasn't until sixty years later when milk was added and the custard was poured over alcohol soaked bread.
**Note: The poached pears in this recipe make a great dessert on their own - just leave the pears whole with stems intact. After removing the pears from saucepan, simmer the wine mixture over medium-high until it becomes a syrupy glaze. To serve, place a pear in a shallow bowl and drizzle with the syrup and garnish with whipped cream or mascarpone, and you have an ideal ending to any meal.
4 pounds firm pears, such as Bosc or Bartlett, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cored
1. Bring wine, sugar, orange rind, star anise, vanilla bean, cinnamon, clove and peppercorns to boil in large pot, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low, add pears, and simmer, covered, until pears are nearly tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Refrigerate pears in the wine until chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 3 days. Using slotted spoon, remove pears from liquid and slice thinly crosswise; discard liquid Reserve one 5-slice section from large part of each pear and cut remaining pear into ½-inch pieces. See Note**
Gingerbread Bundt Cake
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon finely ground pepper
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 ½ cups sugar
4 teaspoons fresh ginger
¾ cup molasses, robust or dark
¾ cup Guiness Stout beer
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat until bubbling. Stir in ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
2. Whisk eggs, sugar, and fresh ginger in large bowl until light and frothy. Stir in melted butter mixture, molasses, and stout until incorporated. Whisk flour mixture into egg mixture until no lumps remain.
3. Pour batter into prepared pan and gently tap pan on countertop to release any trapped air bubbles. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in pan 20 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet; let cool completely. (Cake can be stored at room temperature, covered in plastic wrap, for 2 days.)
Easy Pastry Cream
2 cups heavy cream
½ cup sugar
Pinch table salt
5 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 4 pieces
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Heat cream, 6 tablespoons sugar, and salt in heavy saucepan over medium heat until simmering, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks in medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons sugar until sugar begins to dissolve. Whisk in cornstarch until mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 30 seconds.
2. When cream mixture reaches full simmer, gradually whisk half into yolk mixture to temper. Return mixture to saucepan, scraping bowl with rubber spatula; return to simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until 3 or 4 bubbles burst on surface and mixture is thickened, about 1 minute. Off heat, whisk in butter and vanilla. Transfer mixture to bowl, press plastic wrap directly on surface, and refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla in a chilled bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until frothy and the sugar has dissolved, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to high and continue to whip until doubled in volume and soft peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes.
To assemble Trifle:
1. Slice gingerbread into ½-inch-thick pieces. Cut each piece in half horizontally. Reserve top halves for decorating and cut remaining scraps into ½-inch chunks.
2. Place reserved pear slices on clean surface and press gently with palm of hand to spread pears into fan shape. Arrange reserved cake halves and pear fans around base of 3-quart trifle dish. Place single layer of gingerbread scraps in center of dish and top with single layer of chopped pear pieces. Spread 1½ cups custard over pear pieces. Repeat layering once more, then top with final layer of gingerbread halves, pear fans, gingerbread scraps, and pear pieces. Spoon whipped cream over trifle. Serve. (Trifle can be refrigerated for 6 hours.)
Thanks to the kind people at Bosch, I’m giving away their Tassimo T20 Brewbot to one lucky fan of Cook Like James!** I just made a perfectly brewed cup this morning and highly recommend this machine, it makes a great gift! An advanced single serve brewing system, programmed to make seven different varieties of beverages - coffees, lattes, cappuccinos, espressos, teas, hot chocolate and crema coffees. Its Smart Bar Code Technology ensures optimal brewing temperature, pressure, water quantity and brew time….taking about 1 minute to brew. To learn more, be sure to visit Tassimo Brewbot
(1) winner will receive a Tassimo T20 Brewbot valued at $129.99!
How to Enter:
Leave a comment below - (scroll to the end of this page) about this post (with your email address) saying which brand of T Discs you would most likely get from this page - Varieties
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**This giveaway will end on January 1, 2011 at 9:00 PM (PST). Winner will be chosen via a random number generator. Giveaway is open to US entries. The winner will be emailed and must contact me in 72 hours to claim their prize. Good luck to everyone!
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Potato and leek soup is a classic French recipe that couldn’t be more comforting on a cold winter day. It’s an easy recipe that requires only a few ingredients. The addition of a bread slice is typical in gazpacho recipes and adds to the “creamy” texture of the soup without using cream. In addition to garnishing the soup with traditional croutons, Jacques Pepin - in his book Chez Jacques - recommends using chopped chervil as a garnish which adds a nice anise taste.
4 medium leeks, white and light-green parts halved lengthwise, washed, and sliced thin (about 4 cups), dark green parts halved, washed, and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped medium (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small russet potato (about 6 ounces), peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 large slice high-quality sandwich bread, lightly toasted and torn into 1/2-inch pieces
Ground black pepper
1. Bring dark-green leek pieces, broth, and water to boil in large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Strain broth through fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; set aside. Discard solids in strainer and rinse out saucepan.
2. Melt butter in now-empty saucepan over medium-low heat. When butter foams, stir in sliced leeks, onion, and 1 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
3. Increase heat to high, stir in reserved broth, potato, bay leaf, and herb sprig and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Add toasted bread and simmer until bread is completely saturated and starts to break down, about 5 minutes.
4. Remove and discard bay leaf and herb sprig. Transfer half of soup to a blender and process until smooth and creamy, 1-2 minutes. Transfer to large bowl and repeat with remaining soup. Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender to puree the soup directly in the pot (which is probably the best method if you have one).Return soup to saucepan and bring to simmer; season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with garnish.
Another classic Christmas cookie - Shortbread is a traditional Scottish dessert that consists of three basic ingredients: flour, sugar, and butter. According to Wikpedia, this cookie resulted from medieval biscuit bread, which was a twice baked, enriched bread roll dusted with sugar and spices and hardened into a soft and sweetened biscuit called a Rusk. Eventually, yeast from the original Rusk recipe was replaced by butter, which was becoming more of a staple in the British Isles. Despite the fact that shortbread was prepared during much of the 12th century, the refinement of shortbread was actually accredited to Mary, Queen of Scots, in the 16th century. The name of one of the most famous and most traditional forms of shortbread, petticoat tails, were named by Queen Mary. This type of shortbread was baked, cut into triangular wedges as they are in this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated.
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices (Lurpak or Kerrigold if possible)
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Pulse oats in spice grinder or blender until reduced to fine powder, about ten 5-second pulses (you should have ¼ to 1/3 cup oat flour). In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix oat flour, all-purpose flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt on low speed until combined, about 5 seconds. Add butter to dry ingredients and continue to mix on low speed until dough just forms and pulls away from sides of bowl, 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Place upside-down (grooved edge should be at top) collar of 9- or 9 1/2-inch springform pan on parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet (do not use springform pan bottom). Press dough into collar in even 1/2-inch-thick layer, smoothing top of dough with back of spoon. Place 2-inch biscuit cutter in center of dough and cut out center. Place extracted round alongside springform collar on baking sheet and replace cutter in center of dough. Open springform collar, but leave it in place.
3. Bake shortbread 5 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees. Continue to bake until edges turn pale golden, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Remove baking sheet from oven; turn off oven. Remove springform pan collar; use chef’s knife to score surface of shortbread into 16 even wedges, cutting halfway through shortbread. Using wooden skewer, poke 8 to 10 holes in each wedge. Return shortbread to oven and prop door open with handle of wooden spoon, leaving 1-inch gap at top. Allow shortbread to dry in turned-off oven until pale golden in center (shortbread should be firm but giving to touch), about 1 hour.
4. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool shortbread to room temperature, at least 2 hours. Cut shortbread at scored marks to separate and serve.
This is my favorite all-purpose knife. It's the Santoku from Messermeister's Meridian Elite series of fine cutlery. It's basically a cleaver style knife that is perfect for any kind of chopping, dicing, and even slicing. This version features the hollow ground "Granton" edge that gives the blade nonstick characteristics. This feature is especially useful for fine dicing without it sticking to the blade. The blade is 7-in. long, and has the Meridian Elite signature polished edge for razor sharpness. The riveted handle has rounded edges for extreme comfort, and a fantastic grip.
Cranberry bread was always a staple in my house around the holidays. The mini loaves make great gifts and they freeze well, so you can make them ahead. Perfect on Christmas morning with some cream cheese and jam.
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease bottoms for 4 mini loaf tins. Stir together orange juice, zest, buttermilk, butter, and egg in small bowl. Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in large bowl. Stir liquid ingredients into dry with rubber spatula until just moistened. Gently stir in cranberries and pecans. Do not overmix.
2. Scrape batter into loaf pans and spread with rubber spatula into corners and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees; continue to bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes longer. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool at least 1 hour before serving.
Rich Chocolate “Slice & Bake” Cookies with Dark Chocolate Glaze
These incredible cookies graced the cover of Cook’s “Holiday Baking” issue and I couldn’t wait to try the recipe. Similar to shortbread, they are buttery and rich, like a chocolate Lorna Doone. The bittersweet glaze heightens the chocolate indulgence perfectly.
½ cup sanding sugar or finely chopped pistachios (for rolling)
Dark Chocolate Glaze
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and espresso powder; stir until mixture forms smooth paste. Set aside to cool, 15 to 20 minutes.
2. In standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix remaining 16 tablespoons butter, sugar, salt, and cooled cocoa mixture on high speed until well combined and fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping sides of mixing bowl once or twice with rubber spatula. Add yolks and vanilla and mix on medium speed until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape sides of bowl.
3. With mixer running on low, add flour in three additions, waiting until each addition is incorporated before adding next and scraping bowl after each addition. Continue to mix until dough forms cohesive ball, about 5 seconds. Turn dough onto parchment paper and shape into dough log, 2 inches in diameter and about 12 inches long; use parchment paper or plastic wrap to roll into neat cylinder. Chill until very firm and cold, at least 1 hour.
4. Roll chilled log in sanding sugar or nuts and then slice dough into 1/4 inch thick cookies and place on parchment-lined baking sheets.
5. Bake until cookies show slight resistance to touch, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking time; if cookies begin to darken on edges, they have over-baked. Cool for 5 minutes and then transfer cookies to wire rack; cool completely.
1. Melt bittersweet chocolate with butter in a double-boiler and whisk until smooth. Remove from heat and add corn syrup and vanilla extract and mix until smooth and shiny. Use back of spoon to spread scant 1 teaspoon glaze almost to edge of each cookie. (If necessary, reheat to prolong fluidity of glaze.) Allow glazed cookies to dry at least 20 minutes.
These spicy little chicken tenders are quick and easy to make and a perfect party appetizer. You can save a little time by using store bought taco seasoning, but it's worth making up a batch of the homemade.
6 chicken breast fillets or boneless thighs, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes,
1/3 cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons Homemade Taco Seasoning - recipe below (or you can use a store bought packet)
½ cup flour
Salt and pepper
1. Adjust rack to middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet and spray rack with cooking spray.
3. Pat chicken pieces dry with paper towel and season with salt and pepper; set aside.
4. Mix flour with taco seasoning in a small bowl and side aside. Spread the crushed chips in a shallow dish. Beat together the egg and milk in a shallow bowl.
5. Dredge chicken pieces in flour mixture, then dip chicken the egg mixture and then roll in the chips to coat each piece. Place the chicken nuggets on a prepared wire rack and drizzle with melted butter. Bake until crispy and dark golden – about 18 to 20 minutes for chicken breasts pieces, 30-35 for thighs.
6. Serve with a dipping sauce (mix your favorite salsa with sour cream)
Homemade Taco Seasoning
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 ½ tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 ½ teaspoons onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and mix well to blend. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
If you’re looking for an easy sugar cookie that doesn’t require rolling and cookie cutters – this recipe is for you. Use high quality unsalted butter – like Lurpak or Kerrigold – to achieve the best flavor. The cookies can be rolled in regular sugar, but it’s nice to use red and green around the holidays.
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces), Pillsbury or Gold Medal work best
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon table salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened but still firm (60 to 65 degrees)
1 cup granulated sugar (7 ounces)
½ cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces), for rolling dough
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions; heat oven to 375 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl; set aside.
2. In standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment or with hand mixer, beat butter, 1 cup granulated sugar, and brown sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add egg and vanilla; beat at medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.
3. Place sugar for rolling in shallow bowl. Fill medium bowl halfway with cold tap water. Dip hands in water and shake off excess (this will prevent dough from sticking to your hands and ensure that sugar sticks to dough). Roll heaping tablespoon dough into 1 1/2-inch ball between moistened palms; roll ball in sugar, then place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, moistening hands after forming each ball and spacing balls about 2 inches apart on baking sheet (you should be able to fit 12 cookies on each sheet). Using butter wrapper, butter bottom of drinking glass; dip bottom of glass in remaining sugar and flatten dough balls with bottom of glass until dough is about 3/4 inch thick.
4. Bake until cookies are golden brown around edges and just set and very lightly colored in center, 15 to 18 minutes, reversing position of cookie sheets from front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking time. Cool cookies on baking sheet about 3 minutes; using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.