Thursday, August 16, 2012

Trifling with thoughts of Spring....

Just when a breathtaking umbrella display in the city reminded me to embrace Winter, this tree in our street decided to affirm Spring's imminent arrival.
Then today we were treated to almost balmy 18 degree weather that finally inspired me to get out in my beyond neglected garden and start putting my constantly thought of and never acted on plans for a vegetable garden into action.
Turned over beds and newly planted seeds don't make for very interesting pictures so you'll just have to believe me at this stage.
Beds were deeply dug, fertilised and duly prepared. An almost forgotten seed box meant that I could plant beetroot, carrots, coriander, lettuce, basil, celery and zucchini. A couple of these are possibly a bit early but I thought while I was inspired I'd take a punt. I also put in some Snow Peas and Sweet Peas that may or may not take.

Warmer weather also allows for more walks and more opportunities to spot more examples of our favourite street artist's work. She is known as Baby Guerrilla and her beautiful paper stencils are scattered all over our local area. Big Pickle watches for them wherever we go and we particularly love the ones of sleeping/flying people like the mother with her baby in her arms and two children trailing behind.

My nephew made his First communion last weekend and I was asked to bring a dessert to the family celebration. My sister asked "Do you make trifle?" and I answered "No, but I could give it a go. I don't like the alcohol or coffee ones though". Turns out neither does she and so this trifle was born:

Rhubarb and berry mascarpone trifle

Preparation Time

30 minutes

Cooking Time

40 minutes

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 bunches rhubarb, trimmed, cut into 4cm lengths
  • 250g fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
  • 2 oranges, juiced, 1 zested
  • 10 wide sponge fingers (savoiardi), halved widthwise
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 8 ginger nut biscuits, crushed
  • Custard

  • 300ml pouring cream
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 tbs caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
  • Mascarpone mixture

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
  • 750g (3 cups) mascarpone
  • 300ml pouring cream
  • 2 oranges, zested


  1. Preheat oven to 200C. Place rhubarb and blueberries in a ceramic or glass baking dish, scatter over sugar and drizzle with half the orange juice. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes or until rhubarb is soft. Set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, to make custard, place cream in a saucepan and bring almost to the boil. Whisk egg yolks, sugar and vanilla in a bowl until combined. Gradually pour hot cream into egg yolk mixture, whisking until incorporated. Return the mixture to the pan over low heat and stir continuously with a wooden spoon until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Do not boil. Transfer custard to a bowl and place in the freezer to cool quickly.
  3. To make mascarpone mixture, using an electric mixer, whisk egg yolks and sugar until tripled in volume. Add mascarpone, cream and orange zest, and whisk mixture to almost stiff peaks.
  4. To assemble trifle, place sponge fingers in the base of a 4L (16-cup) bowl and drizzle with the lemon juice and remaining orange juice. Pour the cooled custard over. Top with half the mascarpone mixture and scatter with three-quarters of the crushed biscuits. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove rhubarb mixture from the baking dish (reserving the fruit juices) and place over biscuits, then top with the remaining mascarpone mixture.
  5. Place the reserved juices in a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes or until thick and syrupy. Transfer syrup to a small cup. Refrigerate, along with the trifle, for 2 hours or overnight to cool completely.
  6. To serve, drizzle a little syrup over the trifle and scatter with orange zest and remaining crushed biscuits.
Soooooooo, sooooo good!!
My first attempt at custard from scratch. Amazingly it worked and oh how much better than the custard powder version. The Mascarpone mixture was completely delicious too. Fresh raspberries would be better than the frozen blueberries or even just fresh blueberries.....but not in winter!

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