Posts Tagged ‘cream’

Salted Caramel Panna Cotta

Typing those four words has made my mouth water!

Classic panna cotta is normally served with a strawberry coulis to off-set the silky-white texture of the creamy panna cotta.  At the very least, slices of strawberry or other fruit will be used to finish the dish – even if just as mere decoration.  And this is delicious.  But in can be predictable and somewhat boring.

The actual panna cotta is just vanilla-infused cream so therefore can work with other flavours.  The first time I strayed from the panna-cotta-norm I created a slightly inedible disaster which I have no desire to recreate! However, this salted caramel panna cotta could easily become one of my favourite desserts.

Salted Caramel Panna Cotta

Ingredients:

For the Panna Cotta
1 small pot* double cream
3 gelatine sheets
1 Vanilla pod / 1 tspn vanilla paste
1 tbspn caster sugar
For the Salted Caramel Sauce
250g caster sugar
142ml double cream
50g butter
Salt

*pots used to be sold in 284ml (1/2 pint) pots but are now sold in 300ml pots – don’t worry about the difference.

Method:
1st:
Heat the double cream with either a vanilla pod sliced along its length or with a tspn, or thereabouts, of vanilla paste and the caster sugar.  Heat through until the sugar has dissolved.  Set aside and allow to cool slightly.

2nd: Bloom the gelatine sheets in cold water until soft.  Squeeze out the excess water and add to the warm cream.  Stir until completely dissolved.

3rd: Coat the inside of your dariole moulds/brûlée pots with oil and pour the panna cotta cream into them.  Chill for a few hours or until set.

In the meantime make the caramel sauce and set this aside to cool before using.

4th: In a heavy bottom frying pan, add the sugar and 4 tablespoons of water.  Allow the sugar to dissolve over a gentle heat.  Once dissolved, turn up the heat and allow the syrup to bubble until it turns caramel in colour.

5th: Take off the heat and stir in the butter and cream.  Optional extra: add salt flakes to the mixture.  Stir the mixture making sure the butter has melted properly and everything is incorporated.  Decant the mixture into a pouring jug / bottle.

To serve the panna cotta:

Run a knife along the inside of the dariole mould and sit in a bowl of hot water for a few seconds to loosen the panna cotta from the mould.  Place a plate ontop of the mould and upturn.  The panna cotta should come easily out of the mould.  If not, place it back into the bowl of hot water.

Pour the caramel sauce over and top with grated chocolate.  Absolutely amazing!

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Sneaky Summer Berry Trifle for One!summer berry trifle

Easy to put together and just as easy to eat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ginger biscuit
  • Big handful of summer berries
  • 1 tbspn sugar
  • Double cream
  • Vanilla paste/extract/vanilla pods
  • Toasted flaked almonds

A delicious impromptu indulgence

Method:

1st: Put the sugar and berries into a saucepan and heat through until the berries start releasing their juices and collapse in their skins.  I added a splash of plum liqueur!  Remove the fruit and reduce the juices to create fruit syrup.

2nd: Whisk the double cream with vanilla paste.  Marble the fruit syrup through the cream.

3rd: Start assembling your trifle in individual glasses.  Crush a ginger biscuit and pour the rubble into the bottom of a glass.  Add the warm fruits and top with the cold cream.  Top with toasted flaked almonds.

A delicious impromptu indulgence.  The berry juices flow into the ginger biscuit rubble soaking it with the plum liqueur! This works on many levels; texture-wise you’ve got the smooth cream and the crunchy almonds and biscuit, it’s hot and cold – the cold vanilla cream billowing over the warm fruits and finally sweet and tart at the same time!

 A final taste of summer before Autumn foods take over!

There’s always room for dessert!

You sit down at your local trattoria to stay out of the lunchtime sun knowing exactly what you’re going to have for dessert – panna cotta.  More grown up than ice-cream but just as cooling and light.  You plan your antipasti and primo piatto with this in mind, making sure to just leave enough room for dolce.  But sadly, on many occasion, when you order panna cotta the waiter gives the same answer, “Non abbiamo più a sinistra.”  On their recommendation another dolce is ordered.  And even though delicious, it wasn’t what you originally wanted.

So having been denied the chance to have this dessert in its country of origin, once back from holiday, I set out looking for ways to create this at home.

Of course, set desserts made from milk and cream are common to many cultures, and often separated by very minor differences:

blancmange rabbit…exactly!!

Blancmange in its specifically British incarnation is typically made with milk and thickened with corn flour or more commonly a packet of strawberry jelly is dissolved in water and milk is stirred in to make it pink, and served in a rabbit mould and topped with spray-can cream!

While panna cotta, as the name suggests (cooked cream) is generally made from cream and set with gelatine.  Much more elegant and sophisticated than blancmange, served in flea market tea-cups, dariole moulds or espresso cups and served with fresh fruit, spices or nuts.  It is the perfect dinner party dessert as it can be made well in advance and always impresses.

There are several recipes to be found with varying ingredients: some use only double cream, others cream and milk, others buttermilk, some use single cream and milk.

Ultimately though, all a panna cotta really is, is a creamy dessert set with gelatine.

As David Lebovitz says, “Panna cotta is incredibly easy to make, and if it takes you more than five minutes to put it together, you’re doing something wrong.”

Below is my version/amalgamation of different recipes:

Panna Cotta serves 2*IMG_35381

1st: In a saucepan pour a small tub (1/2 pint) of double cream and place on a gentle heat.  Some tubs are 254ml whereas others are 300ml – don’t worry about this.

2nd: Add a tablespoon of sugar and stir to dissolve.

3rd: Add a splosh of vanilla extract or cut a vanilla pod in half lengthways, scrape the seeds out and add both the seeds and pod into the warm cream to infuse.

4th: Put 2 gelatine leaves in cold water until soft.  When soft, squelch any excess water out and stir into the warm cream.

5th: Pour into lightly oiled moulds, and leave to cool.  Once cool place in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight.

To serve: Place the moulds into hot water for 8 secs until the panna cotta comes away from the mould and turn out onto a plate (or serve in the espresso cup/tea cup).  Serve with fruit of choice.

*Doubles easily, but only use 3 gelatine sheets not 4 as you want it to be luscious and not hard like a cheese!!

As you are setting the cream with gelatine and not an egg-custard you can pretty much go crazy with whatever flavours you want to go for – apparently the Nutella panna cotta with Frangelico cream is to die for!  I’ll definitley be giving that one a go next.

Simple and decadent.

Buon appetito!

Over the past few days it has been impossible to go to sleep comfortably due to the searing heat and high temperatures. Sitting, sweltering in humid, airless evenings has been unbearable. The thought of having to turn an oven on and subsequently heat up the house is quite frankly the last thing I’d want to do.  Alas, even the ubiquitous summer staple; the BBQ, is making me want to jettison off to cooler parts. But one must eat and one must eat well.

So inspired by the shimmering evening heat and the colour of summer, I offer you a simple yet stunning 2 course supper that bring all the colours and smells of the souk to your doorstep: cinnamon and lemon chicken pilaf followed by a refreshing lemon syllabub.

IMG_3513Cinnamon and lemon chicken pilaf

Pilaf, from Persian origins, is basically a rice dish with any vegetables, meat or shellfish added. When cooking anything Middle-Eastern, I cannot avoid adding toasted nuts to the dish, nor do I want to, as this adds to the resiny earthiness of the dish as well as a touch of exoticism.  Feel free to add dry fruits or even rose petals as this can only enhance its intended decadence.

The beautiful aromas and earthy colours make everything golden; as if a Sultan were to be joining you for dinner.

1st: Marinade chicken pieces (I used breast but have used boneless thighs before) in Greek yogurt, the juice of a lemon and a teaspoon of cinnamon (or alternative aromatics e.g. cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, mixed spice) for one hour or longer.

2nd: Prepare your chicken stock (add a glug of rosewater) with saffron strands to relinquish their warm ochre dye.

3rd: After an hour, drain the excess marinade off the chicken pieces and fry in batches to colour them.  Once all the chicken is fried set aside and tend to the rice.

4th: I cook rice using the 2:1 method. 2 parts warm stock: 1 part basmati rice. Toss a couple of cardamon pods into the stock to release their spicy aromas as well as a good squeeze of lemon juice.

5th: In a dry pan, fry pistachios, flaked almonds and pine nuts until golden.

6th: Once the rice is cooked, mix everything together with freshly chopped parsley.  I usually do this in the large frying pan I used to fry the chicken in so that all the charred-black marinade bits around the pan make their way into the final dish.

Lemon syllabub

20130824-011437.jpgA Tudor creation, the syllabub is a cloud-light yet aromatic dessert that is more a visual delight than a full blown pudding.

Very easy to make (no cooking; merely pouring and whisking)

And can be made with several flavour combinations. Basically think of it as scented cream that occupies a notional territory between solid and liquid:

1st: Whisk a 254ml tub of cream with 4 tablespoons of icing sugar until it forms soft peaks.

2nd: Add a splosh (more if you want!) of limoncello liqueur and a squeeze of lemon juice.  Fold this in gently, try not to make the cream any thicker.

3rd: Add a couple of tablespoons of lemon curd and ripple this in with the handle of a spoon.

4th: In a dry pan, fry flaked almonds with icing sugar until golden.

5th: Serve in chilled glasses, sprinkled with the flaked almonds.  Provide biscotti or alternative biccies to scoop the cool cream into your mouth!

Not even, Sheharezade, would be able to pull Aladdin away from the table with this feast!

Enjoy.