Thursday, June 19, 2008

La cucina di Nicola: Panna Cotta

We are back! I know I have been a very bad blogger lately, but I just haven't had the time, nor the peace of mind to sit down and write. But, I am back, and Nicolas couldn't be happier. I guess the little one is getting used to our time cooking together.

Today we are making our FIRST Italian dessert together, and we chose a simple, yet delicious one. Panna Cotta means literally "cooked cream", which is a misnomer as this custard is not cooked at all, no eggs, no double boiler, just gelatin as the tickening agent. Simple, the perfect recipe for my 10 year old.

Originally from the Piedmont region, in the mountainous regions of the Italian north where cream is abundant. Today you can find this dessert all over Italy. A silky, refreshing end to a meal, perfect served with seasonal berries. This could well qualify as the easiest dessert we have made together, and one of our favorites!

Based loosely on a recipe found in Basic Italian by Schinharl/Dickhaut/Lane, published by Silverback.


Feeds 4

1 Vanilla bean
2 Cups + 2 Tablespoons cream
1/4 Cup sugar
1.3/4 teaspoons powdered gelatin (always check package for proportions) 2-3 gelatin sheets
Butter for greasing ramekins (we used silicon molds)

Split open vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape out black seeds and place in a pot with the vanilla bean, the 2 cups of cream and the sugar.
Heat cream mixture and bring to a simmer for about 10 minutes (do not let it boil), whisking occasionally to help dissolve the sugar.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir powdered gelatin into the 2 tablespoons of cream - allow to soften for about 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove the cream/sugar mixture from the heat, add the softened gelatin mixture, and whisk to dissolve the gelatin.
Strain the mixture into a heat-proof container with a spout (a glass measuring cup works well), lightly swirl the mixture before pouring into ramekins to evenly distribute the vanilla seeds. Pour mixture into buttered ramekins and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate 4 to 6 hours until the cream is firm enough.
To serve, carefully dip the bottom of each ramekin in hot water, loose the edges of the panna cotta with a thin knife, cover the ramekin with an upside-down plate and reverse. The panna cotta should slide into the plate. Garnish with strawberry sauce.

For the sauce:

1 Pint strawberries, thinly sliced
1.1/2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 Tablespoons sugar

Toss strawberries, balsamic vinegar, and sugar in a large bowl to combine. Let stand 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. Spoon strawberries over and around the panna cotta and serve.

Warning: You may need to re-register with JS-kit(Echo) to leave CommentLuv link: uncheck the CommentLuv box, click 'add another site", type your blog url in "my site", re-check CommentLuv box. Also type over the name Guest!