Saturday, 24 December 2016

Why not savoury "Trifles"?

More often than not, when we think of trifles,we conjure up sweet visions of layered lady fingers,langue de chat or pound cake soaked in sherry or port, fruit, custard,and perhaps some nuts. But always fresh whipped cream or creme fraiche comes to mind for this classic British dessert.
Usually served in a deep cut glass bowl and delicious any day of the year, a towering trifle on one’s Christmas table is a gastronomic gift that rivals anything under the tree. Forget dessert , why not up the ante on the ordinary and change your typical trifle by creating a savoury one.Trade your usual sponge finger and glug of tonic wine for layers of roasted vegetables,cherry tomatoes,black or green olives, maybe some cous cous or crispy croutons drizzled with a home made tomato ketchup or salsa and topped with a garlic cream custard of mascarpone and egg yolks.Whatever you decide your colourful layers will never be far visually from the sweet option, and the classic method of soaking and layering can remain the same.In addition to creating something healthy and convenient in terms of a one-dish meal, a savoury trifle is a visual feast that spoils the fussiest vegetarian guest with its appetizing aesthetic.

THE INSPIRATION:Not your average trifle! here you have a form of divinity that defies restraint! I decided to take the rustic simple Italian salad.Panzanella is essentially a bread salad to which other things have been added.I thought this would be the ideal starting point for my savoury trifle.My variation of the Italian classic would be an irresistible mix of crusty-chewy cumin croutons and colourful roasted vegetables, all bathed in a robust garlic mascarpone custard



Individual Roasted Vegetable Panzanella “Trifles” 
Serves 4

FOR THE CROUTONS
5 slices  bread, cut into 1/2” cubes
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil

FOR THE TRIFLE

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Flor de sal and freshly ground pepper
1 aubergine, cut into small chunks
1 red onion, peeled halved and divided into eighths
100g of butternut squash peeled and cut into small chunks
2 courgettes, cut into small chunks
1 cup cherry tomatoes,yellow and red quartered
5 baby peppers red yellow and orange
100g firm goats cheese cut into cubes
handful per portion  olives, green or black,de-stoned
handful shelled pistachios crumbled
1/4 cup per portion home made tomato ketchup

FOR THE COUS COUS
135g medium cous cous
250ml vegetable stock

FOR THE  SAVOURY CUSTARD
230g mascarpone
2 free range eggs separated
2 large cloves garlic crushed
a large pinch of flor de sal

Place the cous cous in a heatproof bowl, then pour the boiling stock over it, add some salt and pepper and stir it with fork, then leave for 5 minutes by which time it will have absorbed all the stock and softened.Fluff again with fork and set aside until ready to use,
In a large mixing bowl add the bread cubes and toss until coated in the oil and cumin. Slide onto a baking sheet into a preheated oven at 180C, and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Flip once during baking. Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely.
Toss the vegetables in Flor de sal and pepper and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Bake in the preheated oven at 200C for 20-25 minutes or until browned and soft.
As the vegetables roast, make the custard. Place the Flor de sal and garlic cloves in a pestle and mortar and mash until you have a coarse wet paste.Beat the mascarpone and egg yolks in a bowl, till creamy, beat in the garlic paste.Beat the egg whites till stiff and fold in gently
For individual servings, layer the trifle starting with a base of cous cous then a layer of croutons, ketchup then layers of roasted vegetables, and a scattering of cubed goats cheese.
Finally pour the custard carefully over the top of the trifles and store in the fridge until ready to serve.

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