A Trifling Matter

Blackberry Cabernet Trifle

I see things in a different light.  Life.  Art.  Food.

Sometimes I take things seriously.  (Maybe too seriously?)

Other times humor prevails.  (Okay, most of the time.)

For some reason, this trifle reminded me of Prom.  Remember those bouffant nylon net “floral arrangements” pinned to your shoulder (or strapped to your wrist) while you danced under a disco ball?  (Anybody?)

Prom Corsage with Disco Ball

Prom Corsage with Disco Ball

My first Prom date was a polite (and cute) young man who showed up at the appointed hour with corsage in hand.  He’d obviously put a lot of thought into it — it matched my dress perfectly.

Being new to all-things-prom, I didn’t realize I was supposed to reciprocate with a boutonniere.  His tuxedo lapel sadly went without.  To his credit, he didn’t say a word about the oversight and treated me to the night of my life — or as much of a “night of my life” as you’re allowed at age sixteen with chaperoned supervision.  All I remember is that we swirled around the dance floor to the strains of “Summer Breeze.”

Under a disco ball.

Blackberry Cabernet Trifle sunny side

Blackberry Cabernet Trifle

Pound cake, sliced into 1 inch cubes

Blackberry Cabernet Sauce (recipe to follow)

Blackberry Swirl Topping (recipe to follow)

Additional fresh blackberries for garnish

Blackberry Cabernet Sauce

3/4 c. fresh blackberries

1/2 c. Cabernet Sauvignon

1/4 c. freshly squeezed orange juice

2 Tbsp. honey (or to taste)

In a small saucepan, combine blackberries, Cabernet, orange juice, and honey; bring to a boil.  Lower heat; simmer 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half and liquid is syrupy.  Remove from heat; mash berries with a fork.  Set aside to cool.

Blackberry Swirl Topping

(inspired by this recipe from The Orgasmic Chef)

1 c. whipping cream, divided

1/2 c. Ghirardelli white chocolate chips

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Place 1/2 cup whipping cream in a small saucepan; heat until hot (do not boil.)  Remove from heat; stir in white chocolate.  Allow to soften, then whisk until smooth.  Cool to room temperature, then chill.  Beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.

Beat remaining whipping cream in deep bowl until soft peaks form.  Mix in sugar and vanilla; beat again.  Do not overbeat.  (Reserve a small amount for garnish, if desired.)  Fold together whipped cream and white chocolate mixture until combined.  Add half of the sauce and “swirl” it around.  (Reserve remaining sauce.)

To serve:

Place pound cake cubes in the bottom of two individual trifle dishes.  Drizzle with reserved sauce.  Dollop generously with topping.  Garnish with fresh blackberries and whipped cream.

Blackberry Cabernet Trifle

The forgotten boutonniere?  A trifling matter.

These days, I know how to treat my date.

Enjoying just desserts,

~ Kim

Boeuf… It’s What’s For Dinner

I don’t speak a lick of French, but I love the cooking terms.  They make me feel more animated.  (Not that I need any help in that department.)  Try saying ragout without a hearty goo on the second syl-la-ble, or mirepoix without a saucy little kiss at the end.  (Julia Child I’m not, but there’s joie de vivre in my kitchen!)

Earlier this month, we feasted on a fabulous roast infused with garlic and smeared with Dijon.  “Pardon me, but would you happen to have...  (Yes, the chauffeur was undeniably British, but Grey Poupon remains indelibly etched in my mind.)

After we ate our fill, I relegated the rest to the freezer for future consideration.  Then inspiration struck.  Voila!  Ragout.

Traditionally, ragout is prepared by searing fresh cubes of meat and simmering them to perfection.  However, my schedule requires speeding things up now and then — kinda like being on “Chopped” in the comfort of my own home, without Ted Allen.

But no matter how rushed I am, a mirepoix is a must.  The marvel of this 2:1:1 ratio of onions, carrots and celery cannot be overstated.  (Unless you dice the onions last — then it’s 1:1:2.)

Confession.  For all of my French word frenzy, I forgot to add one vital ingredient: Cabernet.  I dispensed it in a goblet instead…

Weeknight Ragout

Leftover roast beef (preferrably using this recipe)

2 T. extra virgin olive oil

1 c. onion, diced

1/2 c. carrot, diced

1/2 c. celery, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 c. beef broth or bouillon — another fun word!

1 c. red potatoes (unpeeled), cubed

1 fresh tomato, seeded and chopped

Cabernet, to taste…

1/4 t. ground thyme

Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper

Green onion tops sliced diagonally, for garnish

Cut the roast into cubes; set aside.  Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven or heavy kettle, sauté the onions, carrots and celery in oil until translucent.  (Take your time — “sweating” brings out the maximum flavor.)  Add garlic; sauté briefly until fragrant.

Pour in broth and bring mixture to a boil.  Add potatoes and tomato.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until potatoes are barely tender.  If desired, add wine.  (Or not…)  Stir in beef and thyme.  Simmer until heated through.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Ladle into bowls.  Garnish with green onion tops.  Makes 2 lovely servings.

One last thing.  Ragout is generally more of a stew, thickened with a roux.  Woohoo.  But I was content with the way this turned out, so I served it au naturel. ;)  C’est la vie!

Enjoying ma petite foray in the kitchen,

~ Kim

Fresh Cherry Shortcake with A Cherry-Cabernet Reduction

When it comes to baking, let it be known for the record that I’m a “from scratch” kinda girl.  However…

After our recent trip home, Mom included a “mix” in her farewell basket of goodies.  I was skeptical at first.

Shortcake from a mix?  With a mere two ingredients added?  Hmmm….

Clearly, this had to be pondered for awhile.  (Speaking of which, check out this post for a fun time spent musing.)

Meanwhile back at the ranch…

The “mix” begged to be reckoned with every time I opened the pantry door.  I finally succumbed.

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce… Sturdiwheat All Natural Dessert Mix.  Simply add butter and water.  (Or in my case — unsalted butter, a pinch of Kosher salt, and a sprinkling of Turbinado sugar before baking.)

Just for “fun” (and because they were on sale),  I used fresh cherries (instead of the usual strawberries) and made a Cherry-Cabermet Reduction (because I can’t leave well enough alone.)

The end result even inspired the Man of Few Words to utter a whole sentence:  “This stuff is really light.”

Music to my ears.

Fresh Cherry Shortcake with A Cherry-Cabernet Reduction

For the shortcake:

1 (11 oz.) pkg. Sturdiwheat All Natural Shortcake Dessert Mix

1 stick of unsalted butter

1/4 tsp. Kosher salt

1/2 c. water

2 T. Turbinado sugar (aka “Sugar In The Raw”)

For the filling:

1/2 lb. fresh cherries, halved and pitted

1 pt. heavy cream, whipped with 2 T. sugar and 1 t. vanilla

For the Cherry-Cabernet Reduction:

12 ripe, pitted cherries

1/2 c. water

1/4 c. to 1/2 c. sugar (I used a 1/2 cup)

1/2 c. Cabernet Sauvignon or other good red wine

Preheat oven to 375°.  Begin by preparing shortcake as directed on the package.  (I substituted unsalted butter and Kosher salt for the salted butter.)  Spoon batter onto a greased baking sheet to form 9 “mounds” and sprinkle tops with Turbinado sugar.  Bake at 375° F. for 15 minutes, or until golden.  Remove shortcakes to a cooling rack.

Meanwhile, prepare Cherry-Cabernet Reduction.  Place a dozen pitted cherries in a small saucepan and mash with a fork.  Add water and sugar; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Mash cherries again halfway through cooking time.  Remove from heat.

Pour cherry pulp and juice into a fine mesh strainer over a heatproof measuring cup; press cooked cherries with a fork to extract juice.  (Discard the pulp … or eat it with a spoon … or spread it on hot, buttered toast… just sayin’.)

Return strained cherry juice to the same saucepan.  Add Cabernet; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until sauce is reduced by half.  (It should be thick and syrupy.)  Remove from heat.  While sauce is cooling, prepare the whipped cream.

To assemble the dessert, drizzle warm Cherry-Cabernet Reduction onto dessert plates.  Split the shortcakes in half (horizontally) and fill with a generous dollop of whipped cream and as many cherries as you like.  Nestle the shortcake “top” over that.  Garnish with a small dollop of whipped cream and a whole cherry.  Enjoy!

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When life hands you cherries, make shortcake.

~ Kim

P.S.  Even though I’m proud to be an Okie, this shortcake mix (and many other fine products) are made in my home state of Minnesota.