Over the years, as our life with a family has become busier, we seem to have adopted a 'speedy' and 'just in time' lifestyle.
We do (almost) always make it on time - apart from the occasions when we reschedule our significant family dates (birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations - not Christmas to date ... but never say never) so that they fit better with our timetable. That's reasonable isn't it? It's often pretty tight though - for example, in this birthday scene, check out #1 teenage son writing a card for #2 teenage son while he opens and reads another one. I can almost certainly be found just off-camera, wrapping presents and passing them over. The definition of 'just in time' without a doubt ...
Anyway, this weekend was Valentine's and to recognise the occasion we needed to shoehorn it in between a 3 day swim competition as well as the rest of the normal weekend activities.
By 4pm on Friday, my lovely husband and I had both acknowledged that we were woefully ill-prepared and needed a trip to the shops to put that right. In the spirit of romance, we went shopping together, separated on arrival and then met up again once the deed was done. Dubai, incidentally, is not awash with card shops so a bit of planning was required to ensure that we didn't both end up in the one and only decent shop at the same time. Mission accomplished with at least 12 hours to spare. Result.
I was also planning to cook a Valentine's dinner - a 'romantic, candlelit dinner for 2' - at least that was what I was hoping for. I soon realised that the ravenous swimmers would be arriving home at the same time as the planned dinner à deux - so it would need to be dinner for 5 (+ the neurotic dog under the dinner table, of course). Who said romance is dead?
On the menu were all of my lovely husband's favourites - Corned Beef & Potato Pie (his love for this old family favourite never fades and although I cringe when I take a tin of corned beef off the supermarket shelf, the end result is exceptionally yummy), red cabbage (from the freezer), pickled beetroot (there would be a meltdown without this to accompany the pie), frozen peas (because I like them) and some easy chips of course.
Dessert needed to be something that I could pull together quickly but which carried with it a sense of occasion. How about Individual Boozy Trifles? Stunning to look at, deliciously indulgent to eat and a breeze to make.
And here's why you may be wheeling these Individual Boozy Trifles out for your next occasion dinner -
- There is very little preparation required in making these trifles. This is a dessert that is more about combining than cooking and it is definitely an example of a dish where the end result is worth heaps more than the sum of its parts.
- Life is too short to make homemade custard or to bake your own swiss roll so I've used tinned and supermarket respectively. I won't tell if you don't. And it doesn't particularly need to be a swiss roll - any vanilla cake would do the trick.
- Serving the trifles in individual glasses is the killer strike here. Choose the size of the glasses according to your appetites and don't worry if you end up with a collection of mismatched glassware. Call it eclectic. That works.
- The crumble mixture on the top is also a game-changer. It gives a golden, buttery crunch that you will adore and it also makes the dish feel very current. It's very simple to make and you'll end up with plenty leftover to sprinkle on yoghurt, cereal, ice cream ... or to eat straight from the box. And it will last for 3 to 4 days so you can prepare it in advance and also make 'round 2' trifles a few days later if you fancy. BUT, if time (or inclination) is not on your side, use some granola or a few broken up cereal bars.
- Skip the sherry if you'd rather they weren't boozy. I did put just a sneaky drizzle in the ones for the children. There were no complaints and they all slept well, come to think of it.
- They are great for preparing ahead. You can happily construct the trifles up to the end of stage 8 and keep them for a few hours in the fridge until you are ready to finish them off.
These Individual Boozy Trifles are undeniably gorgeous. Call them pretty. Call them cute. Call them adorable. Call them 'to die for'. Call them 'to live for'. Call them whatever you wish ... but be sure to try them ... it's the only way you can be certain.