Homeward bound during our most recent road trip several weeks ago, we spontaneously stopped in Columbia, South Carolina to visit with my old high school friend Jeanne, over Fourth of July weekend. Living just spitting-distance away in Charlotte, North Carolina, was another high school chum, Amy, who happily decided to drive down and join us. After over 30 years of going our own ways due to time, distance, and circumstance, it’s a story really much too long to tell, but let’s just say that it was Facebook that brought us back together several years ago, and we discovered that we probably have more in common today, than we did as teenagers. I asked Amy, an accomplished food writer in her own right, to write this guest post for Flamingo Musings. Even more happily, she agreed!
No Trifling Matter
– Special to Flamingo Musings by Amy T. Rogers
Giving a dinner party is a lot of work. And if the pressure to be perfect isn’t bad enough, imagine hosting a professional “foodie” at your table.
My friend Jeanne had to feed not just one but two foodies when Renée and I visited recently. As much as we insisted we didn’t want her to fuss over us, she put together a fantastic meal.
Herbed, grilled steaks headlined the menu that also featured scoops of watermelon dressed with feta cheese and red onions, along with a tangy black-bean salad. We sat and talked and laughed and sipped hard cider as the sun set and the moon rose. Some of us (okay, one of us) kept nibbling at the side dishes until it was time for dessert.
Jeanne had brought home beautiful strawberries and blueberries, cream cheese, whipping cream, and a pound cake. And since our hostess owns every piece of serving ware under the sun, I set out to make a trifle.
This layered presentation of cake and custard has been around for hundreds of years. Early recipes used gelatin made from animal hooves. But these are modern times, so we can skip that messy step and proceed directly to the fun – and simplicity – of assembling our own versions.
You don’t need a recipe to make a trifle. Use what you have on hand and don’t be afraid to experiment. Like a cocoa flavor? Drizzled melted chocolate on your cake layers. Love citrus? Stir some marmalade into the berries before you add them. Add coconut or sliced bananas.
Since Jeanne had done such a beautiful job on dinner, I wanted to punch up the flavors of dessert. She wisely keeps her pantry stocked with Freakin’ Flamingo jams. And bourbon. I used some of both in the trifle. It was awfully good, if I do say so myself.
A Berry Good Trifle
(Special to Flamingo Musings by Amy T. Rogers)
- Pound cake (half of a bundt-style, homemade cake or one loaf-style, store-bought pound cake)
- 2 to 3 cups strawberries, cut bite-sized
- One pint container of blueberries, or more if desired
- 2 cups (one 1/2 pint container) heavy cream, divided
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup Freakin’ Flamingo Carambola Cranberry Jam (or your favorite flavor of jam)
- One small (3 to 4-oz) package cream cheese, at room temperature
- Splash of whiskey (optional)
- Sugar to taste, about a teaspoon
Cut the pound cake into cubes about 1” square. Place half evenly across the bottom of the glass trifle dish and set the rest aside.
Place half the strawberries in a layer on top of the cake and set the rest aside. Sprinkle with a handful of blueberries.
Whip one cup of the heavy cream with a mixer until medium-firm peaks form. Add the whiskey (if using) and the jam; stir with a spoon until just combined. Spread evenly over the berries and cake.
Layer the remaining cake in the dish, then add the rest of the strawberries. Sprinkle with another handful of blueberries, making sure to set some aside for the topping.
Blend together the remaining heavy cream and cream cheese until smooth; add sugar if desired. Spread evenly over the berries and cake. Top with the remaining blueberries.
And here’s a little tip no one tells you: It’s even better the next day for breakfast – if you’re lucky enough to have any left!
Amy Rogers is the author of Hungry for Home: Stories of Food from Across the Carolinas. She writes about food and culture for NPR station WFAE in Charlotte, N.C., and is the Coordinator for WFAEats. Visit her at amyrogers.net.