December 29th, 2011

A Fine Beginning and Ending: Winter Salad and Trifle


This is the composed salad that we serve every Christmas Eve. Tradition!


This is the Chocolate Mousse Trifle that we served this Christmas Eve–destined to become a tradition.


Hello Friends,

I hope that your holidays have been merry, and that good things loom on your horizon in the new year. As we make our exit from 2011, a bit of a roller coaster year in our household, I’ve been thinking about cycles: beginnings and endings. There’s a life to everything–relationships, jobs, homes—and when one cycle ends, it lays the foundation for a new, often better cycle. In the meantime, there’s that odd place “in between” where one cycle is ending and the other has yet to take hold. Uncertainty can be uncomfortable. It’s a great life lesson, likely to repeated again and again, recognizing endings, forging new beginnings, and surrendering to What Is, in the moment.

I don’t mean to wax all philosophical–this is, after all, a food blog. But we all experience changes–big and small—and life filters into the world of food! Bill recently had a health scare, potential cancer, and he lost his job of 23 years. That he learned both things side-by-side one recent afternoon (“You are cancer-free” from his doctor, post-biopsy, to “We need to discuss your departure date” in a voice message from his manager.) puts a stark perspective on what is really important, what is indeed a blessing.

With big change inevitable in 2012, I know that we’ll all land on our feet–just like our new cat, Sid. In the meantime, I’m sharing two recipes from our holiday dinner, a great beginning: Composed Winter Salad with Brown Sugar Vinaigrette and an amazing ending: Chocolate Mousse Trifle.

Come the new year, I’ll still be cooking, blogging, and staying connected. Always good things in the kitchen and the garden!

Best wishes to you all. As always, thank you for visiting Good Food Matters.





12 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate
6 T. Strong Coffee
2 T. Vanilla
2 T. Creme de Cacao
2 T. Creme de Cassis
2 sticks Unsalted Butter, softened, cut into pieces
8 Eggs, separated
1/2 cup Sugar

1 package Savoiardi (firm Italian ladyfingers)
Heady Dipping Liquid: 1/2 c. Strong Coffee, 2 t. Vanilla, 4 T. Rum

Whipped Topping Garnishes:
2 cups Heavy Cream, divided
1/2 c. Confectioner’s Sugar, divided
1 T. Vanilla
2 T. Cocoa Powder

In a heavy 2 qt. saucepan under low heat, melt the chocolate and coffee together.
Whisk in the vanilla and liqueurs. Then, stir in the butter, one chunk at a time, until it becomes smooth and shiny. Remove from heat.
Using an electric mixer with a balloon whisk, beat the egg yolks and sugar together until the yolks become really pale yellow and thickened, almost triple in volume. This will take several (at least 5) minutes. The yolks will cling to the whisk.
Check your chocolate mixture; it should be warm, but not hot.
Beat it into the thickened egg yolks; the mixture will seem like chocolate mayonnaise.
Pour this into another large mixing bowl.
Clean and dry your mixer bowl and whisk. Beat the egg whites until stiff and glossy. Fold about ΒΌ of the whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining whites.

Select a pretty glass bowl. One by one, dip the ladyfingers into the coffee-rum mixture and line the bottom of the bowl. Spoon in a layer of mousse. Repeat with another layer of dipped ladyfingers, then more mousse until bowl is filled.

Whip one cup of cream with vanilla and 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar. Set aside. Whip remaining cup with 2 T. cocoa powder and 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar.

Smooth the vanilla whipped cream over the top of the trifle. Pipe rosettes with the cocoa whipped cream. Garnish with chocolate shavings, chopped toffee, hazelnuts, or berries, if desired.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

Serves a crowd! (12-16 servings)


Citrus Fruits: Clementines and Ruby Grapefruit
Marcona Almonds
Maytag Blue Cheese
Assorted Lettuces

Brown Sugar Vinaigrette


(aka Southern Sweet-Sour Vinaigrette)
4 T. White Balsamic Vinegar
2 T. Grapefruit Juice
1 t. Celery Seed
1 t. Paprika
1/4 cup Demerara Sugar
1/4 piece of a medium Onion
2 t. Dijon Mustard
1 t. Salt
1/2 t. Black Pepper
1 cup Olive Oil

Place all of ingredients EXCEPT the olive oil into a food processor fitted with a swivel blade. Pulse until the onion is pureed into the mixture. While the processor is running, pour in the olive oil slowly. It will incorporate nicely into the vinaigrette. The dijon will keep the dressing emulsified.


Sid is living the good life!

Posted in Chocolate, Desserts, Recipes, Salads

23 Responses to “A Fine Beginning and Ending: Winter Salad and Trifle”
  1. Nic@diningwithastud Says:

    Happy New Year :) its been such a pleasure reading you blog. Cant wait for more in 2012!! :D x

  2. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best Says:

    I am glad to hear that Bill is cancer-free, what a relief! And now he can enjoy a break from the workplace for at least a while. It is so true your statement about the in between. I have never been good at handling uncertainty, but these life events really put things into perspective, and they make us so much more grateful for all the good things in our life. The chocolate mousse trifle looks absolutely heavenly. Happy New Year Nancy!

  3. Teresa Says:

    How do we all love thee? Let us count the ways….can’t list them all but add these 2 recipes and your sweet comments to the list. So glad to have “met” you! Happy 2012!

  4. Angie@Angie's Recipesa Says:

    Happy New Year!
    Winter salad looks amazing.
    meow. Sid.

  5. Michele | Cooking At Home Says:

    Sometimes transitions sure can be tough; but Bill’s good heath is a wonderful gift. Who knows what great opportunities are just around the corner? Best wishes for a healthy, happy, and peaceful New Year.

  6. Maggie Says:

    Happy New Year, Nancy, Bill, & Sid!!! I think a lot of life’s lessons are how we handle the uncertainty – I know you guys do it with a lot of grace and love. All the best in 2012 – I’ll be looking forward to some cooking adventures with you, Nance. Love!!!!! Oh, the trifle looks like something you’d want to dive into!

  7. mark Says:

    stunning work! all will be well in 2012.

  8., Teresa Blackburn Says:

    Nance, Sid is adorable and I bet he likes salad and trifle! Life is never predictable is it? I have found that some good things always happen when life takes funny turns…it is always interesting to “re-invent” ourselves to suit our current needs & desires…Looking forward to seeing you guys soon…and meeting Sid. Love to you and Bill.

  9. Caroline Says:

    Both of these dishes look amazing! I’ve got to make that brown sugar vinaigrette asap!!

  10. Alli Says:

    So true about what is important. I understand why that salad is a tradition. Yum!

  11. Hotly Spiced Says:

    I love the look of your chocolate mousse trifle. How pretty! We’ve had our ups and downs in 2011 too. Here’s to a better and improved 2012!

  12. Kitchen Belleicious Says:

    that mousse trifle is looking SINFUL- good thing I am all about sinful desserts:) Seriously, amazing dessert and amazing salad- you always do know how to bring out the best in dishes. Hope you have a great new year- it has been a pleasure getting to know you in 2011

  13. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    You are a wise woman, Nancy. I believe it more and more each time I read a comment or post you’ve written. I feel lucky to have found you in this crazy place we call Blogland. Cheers to you and to Bill. May 2012 bring much happiness your way.

  14. Beth Says:

    What an afternoon for your husband. And what a joy that he is now cancer-free! But we never know what’s around the corner, do we? Happy New Year; hoping that 2012 brings you both the best of everything.

  15. Tammy Says:

    Happy New Year Nancy and I love it when you wax philosophy! May 2012 bring you many blessings. I am hopeful for a trip to Tennessee this year and maybe a meet-up. So happy that Bill is well and am certain that you will weather the change.

  16. Joyti Says:

    Both recipes sound delicious. I love the fullness, the amount of ingredients and flavors in the salad. And the triffle look so decadent.
    Happy New Year to you!

  17. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Happy Happy New Year, and thanks to all for such thoughtful comments.I value the connections that we have made through “Blogland”, as Denise so aptly calls it.

    Tammy–thank you! I do hope that a trip to Tennessee materializes this year for you. If so, it would be great to plan a meet up.

    Beth–you’re right, we never know what’s around the corner–Expect the Unexpected! it’s part of life’s grand adventure.

    Denise–I have learned so much from your writing, insights, recommendation, provocative questions.

    Hotly Spiced—welcome to Good Food Matters, and thanks for your kind observations. Yes, here’s a great 2012.

    Michele–all the best to you and your family, too.

    Christine–thanks so much. Everything will work out, I think, just the way that it should–and ultimately be better. Change is Change!

    Nic–thanks–I love reading your food adventures “in OZ” too. all the best-

    Teresa—you are a sweetheart–nice to have you here.

  18. Faith Says:

    Both dishes are absolutely gorgeous! Thank you so much for sharing some of your traditions with us — I think that makes the food even more special. Wishing you and yours a very Happy New Year, my friend!

  19. Simply Life Says:

    wow! can I have that salad and trifle for dinner tonight? YUM!

  20. FOODESSA Says:

    It’s incredible how we get continuously tested throughout our lives. Positiveness like yours, Nancy is what makes life worth living to its fullest.

    Loving this menu of yours…especially dessert, of course;o)

    May this newest year bring peace and better opportunities ahead for yourself and Hubby. Hugs to Sid as well ;)

    Ciao for now,

  21. Mary Says:

    This all looks wonderful. That vinaigrette is on my to do list now. Thanks! I’m glad to hear that your husband is cancer free. Best wishes with all the changes for the new year!

  22. nicole Says:

    Nancy, I am grateful to hear that your husband is cancer free. I hope that this period of job uncertainty doesn’t last too long. When one door closes, and change is forced upon us, good things are potentially lurking! I hope that for you both.
    We are also dealing with some news that we’re trying to rally through. Life sure takes strenth and courage.
    Happy New Year.

  23. Juliana Says:

    Glad to learn that your husband is cancer free…
    Hope you both have a very Happy New Year and hope you are having a wonderful weekend :-)
    By the way Nancy, I love the idea of citrus in salad…so refreshing.

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