I have a confession to make. After thirty (plus) years of cooking for my family, I am still terrified by big chunks of meat. Not poultry — I can cut up a whole chicken for a meal with ease, and cook big turkeys with the best of them when Thanksgiving rolls around every year. And not little pieces of meat, like pork chops, salmon fillets, and bacon. But leg of lamb, hunks of venison, and haunches of roast beef scare the stuffing out of me. So as this roast beef and yorkshire dinner loomed ahead in my menu plans, I got devious. I decided to lure my husband Beto into my preparations, and convince him — discretely, of course — that he was the perfect person for cooking the roast beef! Not that he knows anything more than I do about BIG MEAT, but he has no anxieties about it and would plunge in without fear or inhibitions.
It worked like a charm. All I had to do was pull out the old Joy of Cooking and engage him in a discussion of which cut of meat would be best for our purposes, and before I knew it, he had taken responsibility for the roast. And thank goodness that he did. If I had been in charge, I would have slavishly followed Joy and cooked it at 250 degrees as suggested for maximum succulence, until it reached the proper inner temperature for medium rare, and we would have eaten at 10:00 at night instead of 7:15. Beto, with his natural instinct for cooking, tossed the book out after the first half hour and produced a delicious roast in perfect time for the kid’s growling appetites, not to mention mine. YUMMM. I had forgotten how much I love roast beef.
As a complement to our meat we added boiled carrots and fingerling potatoes, plus some wonderful steamed brussels sprouts straight off the stem and rolling in butter. (I look forward to this time of year when I can buy b.sprouts that way; they are so good, I eat them for breakfast)
But I bet you’ve been waiting to hear about the trifle.
First, I convinced myself that I needed a trifle bowl like the one I’d seen in the recent Crate and Barrel catalogue, and since Beto can’t refuse me anything, he ran out and bought me one on Saturday morning. He and the boys went together — on their way to get flu shots — and evidently they thoroughly confused the clerk by first asking for a “truffle” bowl. “Truffle,” “trifle,” said Beto, “they all sound alike to me.” Elijah, the fourteen-year-old who is far wiser than his years (and knows it) finally straightened the confusion out, and they eventually arrived home with the appropriate vessel to house my culinary masterpiece.
Everyone loved the truffle and I had fun making it, so here’s the recipe. We’re pretty lactose intolerant in our family, so I used cool whip with all those nasty chemicals in it, but you can use a lovely fresh whipped cream in its place. And for my sponge cake, I used a wonderful citrussy recipe for Passover sponge cake from The Jewish Holiday Cookbook, author Gloria Kaufer Greene and substituted rice flour for the matzo meal, but there are many gf recipes for sponge cake online.
- 1 gf sponge cake, 9 inch more or less, cut in big cubes.
- 1 cup seedless raspberry jam
- 2 small packs of fresh raspberries
- 1 large pack of strawberries, cut into halves
- 10 ounces Silk vanilla soy yogurt
- 1 and 1/2 containers of original Cool Whip, thawed completely
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 Tbs. sugar
- 2 oz. sliced almonds
- (optional: amaretto liqueur)
Preparations: Toast the almonds and set aside. Make the custard by taking 10 ounces of vanilla soy yogurt and heating it in a medium saucepan over medium heat. While it is heating, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until light yellow and smooth. Strain yolk misture into clean bowl. Pour hot soy yogurt into egg yolks and stir vigorously. Return mixture to pan over low hat and cook, stirring,, until it has thickened substantially. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Assembly: Spread chunks of cake with raspberry jam and place chunks to form a layer on the bottom of the trifle bowl, or any glass bowl. Now pour the cooled custard over that layer. Add a layer of raspberries. Then add another layer of cake spread with jam and dribble amaretto over the pieces. Add layer of cool whip or whipped cream. Add layer of strawberries, saving a few for the top. Add another layer of cool whip/whipped cream. Decorate with bits of strawberries and sprinkle it with sliced blanched toasted almonds.
English trifle is not a trifle at all; it’s a glorious opportunity to play with layering foods and making something delicious for dessert. I’m tempted to do another one for the holidays, with all kind of different layers — chocolate soy pudding, bananas, blueberries? Can’t wait to play again.