Monthly Archives: June 2011

Last week in honour of the new season of True Blood our dear friends Steve and Sam had us over for a viewing party. Steve, another master baker scientist extraordinaire, made a delicious trifle. It was divine and reminded me of the mini-trifles Maureen made for our engagement party (Thanks Maureen!). Steve was gracious to share his recipe, so here it is!!

Peach Trifle (otherwise known as English Trifle, or True Blood food for humans)
1 Trifle Bowl — the presentation is one of the best parts of this dessert, so the trifle bowl is essential.

1 (18.25 ounce — standard size) package yellow cake mix [or double this recipe]
12 oz. raspberry jam
1 (29 ounce) can sliced peaches [or fresh peaches, if they are in season]
1/2 cup sherry or brandy
1 (6 serving size) vanilla pudding mix [or homemade vanilla pudding!]
3 cups milk
2 cups  heavy whipping cream
Sliced toasted almonds

1) Prepare the cake layers in 2, 9-inch round cake pans per the box’s instructions, i.e, 2 separated cakes for layering

2) Once cooled, place one layer in the bottom of the trifle dish. Cover with 1/2 jam, 1/2 peaches, 1/2 liquor, and some of the juice from the peaches.  Use up to 1/2 of the juice — this will determine the moistness of the cake — and 1/2 of the juice will yield a very moist, almost sloppy trifle.

3) Place the next layer of cake on top of all the ingredients that you just added.   Repeat the placement of the jam, peaches, and liquor in the same manner on top of the second layer of cake.

4) This step is optional in my opinion, but the classic recipe calls for it.  I think that the trifle is excellent without the pudding layer.  Prepare the vanilla pudding according to the package using the 3 cups of milk.  Pour the hot pudding over the top of the trifle; let cool.

5) When pudding is cool and set, whip fresh whipping cream and spread on top. Decorate with toasted sliced almonds.

Keeps well in the fridge, or eat it all at once if you are trifle obsessed! Goes well with coffee and vampires too.


If you are visiting Montreal. You must run, not walk, run to Les Trois Petits Bouchons.

My friend met someone at a pre-conference meeting that highly recommended this restaurant. It was one of the most delightful meals of my life. I wish that I would have taken more pictures. We started the evening with wine and an assortment of innovative appetizers including: octopus, scallops, asparagus & morels, sweetbreads and a tasty baguette. We then selected an “au naturale” wine, which was amazing and highly recommended by the waiter (wish I wrote down the name). I selected a tartiflette for my entree, which was piled high with greens and was superb. We ended the evening with a choloate soup that had bread pudding and pineapple. Divine.

Here is the picture of the scallop appetizer, served in the shell with a flower garnish on a bed of salt.

Joey loves pie. I was in Montreal for a conference over his birthday, so I made a strawberry rhubarb pie as soon as I returned (along with the help of HP, aka the master baker). I was able to use the rest of the frozen strawberries, which made for quite a mess. I wanted to make pie crust, but didn’t have time–so I ran to Fresh Market to pick up frozen pie crust, which came to the rescue!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Makes 2 pies

8 cups of strawberries, remove tops and sliced (If using frozen, defrost on the countertop for a few hours before slicing)
5 cups rhubarb, sliced and trimmed (use vegetable peeler to remove the rhubarb skin)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup cornstarch (add 2 Tb more if using frozen strawberries as there is excess liquid)
1 Tb cinnamon
1/2 Tsp salt
4 store bought pie crusts (or use your favorite recipe)
2 Egg yolks + 1 Tb water, for glaze

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix the brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt. Fold in strawberries and rhubarb. Spoon filling into the pie crusts. With the remaining top crusts, cut into strips. To make a lattice pattern, place ~12 strips all in one direction and then place ~6 strips in the other direction. You may have to combine the scraps and roll out with a rolling pin in order to have enough strips. For fun, make leaf patterns on crust. The easiest way to do this is to use a knife to cut out a leaf shape. Draw a line down the center of the leaf and then make indentations along each side of this line. Place two leaves near each other on the edge of the crust and place a “berry” in between. Use a fork to crimp the edge of the crust. Mix the egg yolks with water and use a pastry brush to spread glaze on top of the lattice and decorations.

Place pies on a large cookie sheet and place in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees and then lower the temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, bake for 60-90 minutes or until the pie is set and the crust is brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

“Bleeding” strawberry juice from the frozen strawberries. Using frozen strawberries in pie is certainly messy!

Toast is one of my favorite lunch/early dinner places in Durham. Joey and I went for lunch yesterday before seeing our dear friend off as he moves home to Arizona. I had a green salad and crostini, which was a perfect complement to the 95+ degree day. For those of you who don’t know, crostini are little toasts with yummy toppings. I had two kinds of crostini yesterday- pesto with roasted tomato and mozarella & goat cheese with honey and cracked black pepper. They were divine and are perfect with a nice green salad. I am excited to make them at home for a cocktail party, or just for fun.

Here are recipes for the crostini (note the amounts of toppings will vary slightly depending on the size of your bread).

Goat cheese crostini with honey and black pepper

Serving size varies depending on how many you want to eat 😉

Goat cheese
Baguette, sliced in 3/4″ slices, or prepared crostini from the store
Black pepper

1) Slice baguette, place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and toast in oven set to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Toast in oven for 2 minutes.

2) Remove baguette slices from oven (or if using crostini start here). Spread about a tablespoon of goat cheese on each slice. Place back into oven for another minute.

3) Remove from oven and top with a drizzle of honey and freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy!!!

Crostini with roasted tomato, pesto and mozarella

Again the serving size varies depending on how many you want to eat & how much ingredients you buy.

Fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4″ thick & wide enough to cover  about 2/3 most of the baguette slice (see picture above for example)
Homemade or store bought pesto
Tomatoes (roma, cherry or grape).
Baguette, sliced in 3/4″ slices, or prepared crostini from the store

1) Roast tomatoes in oven following this recipe from smitten kitchen. This takes a while, but is worth it!!!!

2) Slice baguette, place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and toast in oven set to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Toast in oven for 2 minutes.

3) Remove baguette slices from oven (or if using crostini start here). Spread about a teaspoon of pesto on each slice, top with a roasted tomato and a slice of mozzarella. Place back into oven for another minute or until the mozzarella is melted. Prepare to be blown away!

I think that y’all might think I’m Italian.. as lately all I’ve been cooking is pasta and greens. First, before we apologies for the delay. Life has been a bit crazy since we’ve been back from Texas–impromptu trips to the beach, planned trip to Bald Head, wedding planing/family stress related to wedding planning, etc.

We also had a lovely engagement party thrown by our friend Deepu–thanks Deeps! Anyhow, my co-worker Valerie gave us a Moosewood cookbook that inspired this recipe. For those of you who don’t know, Moosewood is an amazing restaurant that cooks mainly vegetarian in Ithaca, NY. You should go, or buy their cookbooks! Ok, here is my adaptation.. we didn’t have lemons, basil or I improvised and made lots for eating later this week.

Zucchini Pecorino Pasta

Serves 4-6


2-3 Zuchini, cut into small pieces
4 cloves garlic, pressed (or four Dorot cubes from Trader Joes!)
3 Tbsp Olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 Tsp dried basil
Red pepper flakes
1/2 lb Pasta– penne, lingiuni or the like
3/4 cup Pecornio, grated (about 3-4 oz)

1) Make pasta according to the package directions. Be sure to salt the water too.

2) Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, add garlic and zucchini. When the zucchini browns add salt, pepper, basil and red pepper flakes.

3) When the pasta is done put into large bowl and toss with the pecorino. Top with the zucchini and serve. Add more Pecorino, especially if you are a cheese addict like me. Bon Appetit!