The light is coming back! Even though I can’t actually detect a difference, I KNOW that the days are getting longer from here on out. To celebrate the event, we had a neighborhood Solstice party at our house last night. It was a sit down dinner for a dozen good friends, and if the number of empty wine bottles on the counter this morning is any indication, a good time was had by all.
We had to rearrange our dining room a little to accommodate everybody. Here is the table before we sat down. John and I went to Pier One earlier this week and bought every red, green, and white candle they had. And yes, we had the fire extinguisher handy last night just in case.
We had a cheese and pate selection for before-dinner munchies, along with champagne and numerous bottles of wine. Dinner was a huge standing rib roast. It wouldn’t fit into my oven, so we cut it into two pieces and roasted it in two ovens. We had a wintery root crop side dish as well as a red beet/white beet combo. Mashed potatoes with gravy and steamed green beans completed the dinner.
For dessert we had a trifle:
And a few more pictures from after dinner:
Here’s Riley saying goodbye to everyone:
We put all the food away and stuffed the dishwasher full of as many dishes as would fit before we went to bed. Here is what the scene still looks like this morning:
Clearly the kitchen gnome forgot to stop here during the night. I’m hiding in the basement until somebody cleans that mess up.
For those who love dessert, here is my trifle recipe. I had never written this down before this morning, so the amounts are flexible. You might want to overestimate a bit, in case I underestimated!
Lorette’s English Trifle
1 large clear glass bowl
Sara Lee frozen pound cake, 2 of them. I actually only used about half of the second cake.
Whipped cream, I used about a quart of whipping cream, whipped with a bit of sugar and vanilla.
Vanilla pudding…NOT INSTANT, it will separate out in the trifle unless you eat it right away. I used 2 large packages of Jello brand pudding. Make this the day before so it can chill.
Fruit. I used frozen fruit in big bags that our local market carries. Thaw it out, and spread out on paper towels on cookie sheets to absorb some of the moisture. In season you can use fresh fruit. Peaches, blueberries, raspberries went into this one, along with kiwis for decoration. A big trifle like this one used a dozen or so kiwis, peeled and thinly sliced. I probably used 3 or four cups of sliced peaches, roughly the same amounts of the berries. Use more or less as you prefer.
Seedless raspberry jam. I used about a quarter to a third of an 8 oz. jar.
Sherry. Doesn’t have to be really expensive, but make sure it is not cooking sherry, use something you would actually drink.
Slice cake into about half inch slices, then cut these in half or thirds and line the bottom of the bowl. Spread a thin layer of jam on the cake pieces. After trying various utensils to do this, I decided that just using my fingers to spread it around works best.
Sprinkle with a bit of sherry…I used about 2-3 tablespoons per cake layer, maybe more, maybe less.
Stand your kiwi slices on end around the side of the bowl. See picture.
The idea is that you see the layers of kiwi slices through the glass, so you have to be a little fussy about placement. Putting the kiwi in place before you plop on the other layers keeps it all neater.
Layer fruit next, then a layer of pudding, then a layer of whipped cream.
Now do another repeat of the same layers…cake, sherry, jam, kiwi, fruit, pudding, whipped cream. Depending on the size of your bowl you might get a third repeat, but my bowl holds 2 sets.
On top of the last layer of whipped cream, arrange fruit slices in a decorative pattern.
Chill for at least 2 hours, then serve. You can make this earlier in the day as well. If you make it the day before, things get a little soggy, and the whipped cream doesn’t hold up as well.
You can vary this by using different fruit, different jam, flavor your cream, etc. I’ve seen variations that use chocolate cake, chocolate pudding, etc. If you’re not feeding the whole neighborhood, obviously you can cut this back and do it in a smaller bowl. The leftovers are great for breakfast, though, and people will eat more of this than you think. Even after devouring about twelve pounds of prime rib, we ate two-thirds of this bowl last night.
If you were Martha, you would make your pudding from scratch instead of a mix, and would make real pound cake yourself instead of buying it. It’s good even with the shortcuts, though. There were grown people standing around the bowl just digging in with spoons by the end of the party.