Tag Archives: holiday

Cranberry orange custard trifle

Holiday trifle

When I was a little girl, my mom would make a holiday trifle every year for Christmas. I loved the layers of rich vanilla custard, tart raspberry jam, berries, and brandy-soaked pound cake in every bite. In recent years, however, my mom has foregone the traditional holiday trifle, saying it’s too heavy for dessert.

First layer of Grand Marnier-soaked pound cake & oranges

This year, I decided to resurrect my favorite holiday dessert. My mom and I found a recipe for cranberry orange custard trifle, which sounded a bit lighter than the traditional trifle. Instead of berries  and raspberry jam, this recipe includes oranges and a sweet and slightly sour cranberry sauce, both of which add a sophisticated acidity to this otherwise saccharinely sweet dessert. The colors in the trifle were gorgeous as well, perfect for a festive holiday dinner.

Pouring custard over the cranberries

My family and friends absolutely loved the trifle and could not stop eating it. I will definitely be adding this recipe to my holiday repertoire–and you should too! The trifle would also make a spectacular New Years Eve dessert, for those of you who are still looking for something to make. Make sure to let it sit in the fridge at least 4 hours before serving–and that’s the hardest step, because you’ll be so tempted to eat it right away.

Cranberry Orange Custard Trifle

Adapted slightly from Red Book Magazine

Prep time: 30 min; Cooking time: 35 min; Chilling time: at least 4 hours


1 ½ cups each heavy cream and milk

Peel from 1 orange

¾ cup sugar

3 T all-purpose flour

3 large eggs

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 T Grand Marnier

1 T vanilla extract


4 cups fresh cranberries (approx. 1 12 oz. bag)

1 cup orange juice

½ cup sugar

1 T grated orange zest


1 (1 lb) pound cake, thawed, sliced 3/8 inch thick, and halved

1/3 cup Grand Marnier

6 oranges, peeled and pith removed, cut into segments**

**(I used two 15oz cans of mandarin oranges instead)


1 cup heavy cream

3 T confectioners sugar

2 T Grand Marnier

1 T vanilla extract

Sugared cranberries, optional

  1. Custard: In a medium saucepan, heat cream, milk, and orange peel to just boiling. In a bowl, whisk sugar and flour, then whisk in eggs until smooth. Gradually whisk in ¼ cup of cream mixture. Pour egg mixture into saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly until thickened, about 3 min. Remove from heat; stir in butter, Grand Marnier, and vanilla until blended. Pour into bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold.
  2. Cranberry filling: In a saucepan, combine cranberries, orange juice, sugar, and zest. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally until mixture thickens, about 30 min. Cool to room temperature.
  3. Trifle: Line bottom of a 3 ½ quart trifle dish with a single layer of cake slices. Brush with Grand Marnier, top with about 1 cup orange pieces, then about ½ cup cranberry filling, then about 1 cup custard. Repeat layers 3 more times. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
  4. Topping: In a cold bowl with cold beaters, beat cream, confectioners’ sugar, Grand Marnier, and vanilla until soft peaks form. Spoon on top of trifle; top with sugared cranberries, if desired.

Makes 16 servings.

Merry Christmas to all…

The White House Christmas Tree

Ice skating at the National Gallery

Mushroom crostini

Raspberry tart

Christmas Eve sunset in LA

…And to all a good night.

Exploring the Hill

The Capitol

Since moving to DC in August, the past few months have been filled with job interviews, law school apps, and all the other anxieties that come along with unemployment. But now that I have an internship lined up for January and all my law school apps sent in, I’m playing the waiting game and have a LOT of free time on my hands. My family and friends keep telling me to enjoy the free time while I still have it, do all the things I won’t have time to do when I start working, and most importantly, to stop complaining to them because they are jealous of all my free time!

Entrance to Mangialardo and Sons--looks can be deceiving

I finally followed their advice this past Wednesday–and couldn’t be happier that I did. I had read a lot about a small, hole-in-the-wall Italian sub shop popular with the Capitol Hill lunch crowd. With nothing to do that day, I decided to check it out and explore the Hill.

Mangialardo and Sons is located on Capitol Hill SE, just off the Potomac Ave. metro stop. The area reminds me a bit of Columbia Heights, in the sense that it’sgradually being redeveloped, but there are still some parts that feel a bit seedy. Case in point: when you walk out of the Potomac Ave. stop, there is a brand new, sparkling clean Harris Teeter  on the bottom floor of a huge apartment unit across the street. Walk a few blocks in the opposite direction, however, and the area quickly goes down hill (both literally and figuratively). Luckily, Mangialardo and Sons is near the Harris Teeter, but that doesn’t mean the location is perfect. The front window of the shop had been smashed in when I visited, and a wood board and some duct tape haphazardly held it together. (The owner joked that it was probably a bitter family member or customer desperate for salami who broke the window.)

Despite the shabby storefront, Mangialardo’s was crowded with Hill staffers picking up sandwiches for their offices when I walked in. The store’s interior is sparse but clean, with shelves along the walls stocked with jars of roasted red peppers and bottles of imported Italian olive oil. Service is efficient and friendly, especially to newcomers. The menu, above the service counter, includes hot and cold sandwiches, and a special of spaghetti and meatballs. There are also coolers filled with sodas and a nice selection of bottled teas.

The G-man

I ordered the G-man on a soft roll with everything on it (which received positive reviews on Yelp) and walked over to Harris Teeter to eat my sandwich (Mangialardos is cash and carry-out only). For only $6, the G-man is a great value for the money. The sub is huge, more than twice the size of Potbelly. The roll was soft and chewy, but substantial enough to hold together the sandwich. Fillings included ham, bologna, pepperoni, salami, mortadella, provolone cheese, mayo, Italian seasoning, hot peppers, oil/vinegar, and lettuce and tomato.

I am by no means a connoisseur of Italian subs, so perhaps I could not fully appreciate the G-man in all its glory. Yes, the ingredients were fresh and high-quality. Yes, it was very authentic. And yes, it was a pretty darn good and filling mean for only 6 bucks. But, I found the sub to be a bit too salty for my taste. After taking out the pepperoni, mortadella, and some of the cheese, however, I thought it tasted much better. Although I did find myself drinking a ton of water the rest of the day. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for an authentic Italian sub or just a change of pace from Subway, I would still wholeheartedly recommend Mangialardo and Sons.

Foodies' mecca aka Hill's Kitchen

Afterward, I wandered around the Hill and stumbled upon the cutest culinary shop, Hill’s Kitchen. I stocked up on stocking stuffers for the holidays: an eggplant shaped spoon rest, Capitol-shaped cookie cutters, and cute penguin napkins. Then I somehow ended up in Chinatown (not sure how…) and went to the Downtown Holiday Market for even more holiday shopping. Lots of handmade jewelry, beautiful photos, and cute clothes all from local vendors. There was also live jazz outside the Portrait Gallery and really yummy, fresh-out-of-the-fryer donuts. All in all, it was a wonderful day to be unemployed.

Jazz outside the Portrait Gallery

Mangialardo and Sons

1317 Pennsylvania Ave. SE

Washington, DC 20003

(202) 543-6212

Open weekdays 7:30a-3:00p

Mangialardo & Sons on Urbanspoon

Hill’s Kitchen

713 D St. SE (across from the Eastern Market metro)

Washington, DC 20003

(202) 543-1997

Downtown Holiday Market

F St. between 7th and 8th St. (near the Gallery Place/Chinatown metro)

Open Dec. 4-23, Noon-8pm daily

Downtown Holiday Market

24 Days of Dining

Dining room at Georgia Brown's

If you’re looking for an affordable but indulgent way to celebrate the holidays, look no further than Capital Restaurants’ 24 Days of Dining. From Dec. 1-24 between 5-8pm nightly, you and your guests can enjoy a 3-course meal plus the chef’s choice glass of wine for $24. Participating restaurants include: Georgia Browns, J. Pauls, Paolo’s, Old Glory, Neyla’s, and Third Edition.