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Trifle, Italian style

Lemon Blackberry Trifle

Lemon Blackberry Trifle

This recipe comes to me by way of the priestess, nay, the goddess of the kitchen, Nigella Lawson.  I’ve been a fan and fanatical advocate of the raven-haired Brit since her show Nigella Bites, with her impeccable style, spot on palate, and slightly subversive humour.  And no one can make love to a spoon the way she can.  I did meet her once and we had a little chat.  To be perfectly accurate, I met her along with maybe 3000 other fans at a book signing.  Despite the mob, she remained regal and warm in her chartreuse twin set, offering a genuine smile to all.

Nigella LawsonI must admit her cookbook prose have had a profound inspiration on my own desire to write.  I’ve savoured each and every one of her publications, reading them more like novels rather than as a resource.  I enjoy her informative preambles mixed with the regional vernacular (splodge, nubbled, blitzed) and simple recipes with inspired flavours.  She blends cultures and style with no apology.  One region she loves to explore is Italy, from crostini to dolce.  …Hence, this recipe, slightly modified, from her publication Forever Summer…

jam sandwiches

This is everything a trifle should be:  rich, oozing, cool, and creamy.  It’s also easy to make (please forgive the ready-made ingredients) and best if made well ahead of serving, rendering it perfect for easy entertaining.  The Italian inspiration comes from the ingredients: crunchy amaretti biscuits, sweet and puckering limoncello, and standing in for custard is a silky mascarpone mousse with blackberries providing a blistering contrast. 

blackberries 

The measurements are offered more as a guideline, with the size of your trifle bowl influencing the proportions.  For these photos, I used my oval porcelain casserole dish that I usually employ for mac and cheese, although it is most presentable in a glass trifle bowl (my own having disappeared after attending a potluck and not to be seen since).

Recipe on following page… Continue reading

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Hummus

Lemon Artichoke Hummus
Lemon Artichoke Hummus

This Mediterranean dip born of chickpeas and sesame is also known by its other iterations such as houmous, humus, hoummos, humous, or most accurately, حُمُّص بطحينة.  While no one knows its historical origins, folklore often insists hummus is one of the oldest-known prepared foods.  Many cookbooks and recipes have survived since antiquity, but hummus was not mentioned until the 18th-century in Damascus sources.  Many scholars have dismissed its more modern routes by arguing that hummus has been such an everyday staple, writing down a recipe for it would be akin to a recipe for boiling water.

Middle Eastern debates aside, the puree has always been popular with the granola set in the West and really hit its stride with the cocktail crowd and suburban families alike in the past decade or so.  One may find the dip upon every party table, garnished with cilantro, drizzled with olive oil, or sprinkled with cumin and always always always served with pita (and sometimes sturdy vegetables for scooping).

hummus in processor

Presently, humus is accessible in any of its mutations at virtually all grocery stores in flavours like roasted red pepper, roasted garlic, jalapeno, carmelized onion, sundried tomato and on and on.  And while it’s easy and convenient to buy, the taste and texture leaves a lot to be desired.  Fortunately, it’s also easy to make at home; the ingredients are simple and you’ll have fun coming up with your very own signature hummus once you’ve mastered the basics.  The recipe I have on offer is a lemon artichoke version but simply eliminate artichoke and lemon zest to create the basic gold standard.  It’s inspired by a Cooks Illustrated recipe but with such simple ingredients, one hardly needs a recipe at all.  Lemony, garlicky, salty, silky, substantial perfection.

chickpeas

Finally, a word about chickpeas:  if you’re going the homemade route, go all the way and use dried chickpeas (see note following recipe).  They’re cheaper than canned and you’ll have the pleasure of creating something right from scratch.  Take this with a grain of salt, though, because I have been known once upon a time to bake a loaf of bread to make my own croutons for a caesar salad.  I know.  Crazy.  But you can make all kinds of other fun things with the extra legumes, including my vegetarian butter chicken (no butter and no chicken…recipe to come).  Anyway, happy dipping…

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Welcome to Crispy Bits!

Welcome to Crispy Bits.   This blog is devoted to all things food.  From recipes to restaurants, from ingredients to implements, all aspects of the sweet and savoury will be explored on these pages.  Enjoy your time here and I hope you find something that whets your appetite.

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