Well… my dad’s birthday was actually three weeks ago, but as is usual with most of my blogging, posts tend to get a bit delayed, and its quite odd actually because being a second-semester senior, you would think that the workload would decrease. HA, no, no, no. I feel that the teachers have only been pilling it all on now. Anyways, the point of this post here is to elaborate upon this glorious desert that I made for my father as he made the move from one age to the next. It is a fabulous Panna Cotta, which is Italian for “cooked cream” and quite frankly is what the name suggests. However, this cooked cream is little more than just that. I have flavoured it with lovely Provencal Lavender that I bought from the Cours Saleya, the open-air market in Nice, from my recent France trip. Playing a supporting role in this production is a pungent Madagascar Vanilla bean, also from the aforementioned location, which adds a great, almost-smoky, sweetness. The lavender who is our leading lady, speaks with great floral tones. Yes, lavender can be used for a lot more than soaps and perfumes, it makes a great dish any day.
To complete this lovely ensemble is my red berry fruit couli, this part of the dish was inspired from a panna cotta with red-fruit couli that I had in Nice earlier. The panna cotta was simple and sweet and the fruit couli added a sweet fizziness to the whole deal. For my interpretation, I stewed some strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries in a generous dousing of pomegranate liquor and some sugar for sweetness. Let the whole thing boil about and you have a gorgeous red sauce that will coat the bottom of your serving plates, serving as the perfect liquid on which our floating island of cream shall sit upon. O! Que Magnifique! This Panna Cotta not only had myself smiling but my Dad as well because sometimes when you turn over another year, you don’t always want the same old slice of cake greeting you. Sometimes it is just awesome to have yourself a nice cold plate of Panna Cotta!
Recipe: Lavender-Vanilla Panna Cotta with Red-Berry Couli
Cooking Time: 5 Minutes
Panna Cotta (Adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa):
- 1/2 packet (1 teaspoon) unflavoured gelatin
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cold water
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
- 1 cup of plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 vanilla bean, spilt and seeds scraped
- 1 heaping tablespoon of culinary lavender
- 1/3 cup of sugar plus 1 tablespoon
Red Berry Couli (A Kooking Fever Original)
- 1 16 0z bag frozen strawberries
- 1 12 oz bag frozen mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup pomegranate liquor
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
Panna Cotta: In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 3/4 cup of the cream, and the vanilla extract. Meanwhile in a small pot, heat the remaining 3/4 cup of cream, sugar, lavender, and the vanilla bean seeds and pod. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Then strain the hot cream mixture into the cold cream-yogurt mixture and add the softened gelatin. Pour the panna cotta into 6 small ramekins or 4 large ones and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 6-8 hours and possibly overnight.
Fruit Couli: In medium saucepan heat the berries, sugar, liquor, and cornstarch and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 10-15 minutes. Then using an immersion blender, blend the mixture till smooth. Cook the blended mixture over a low heat for another 15 minutes.
Serving: Place a layer of couli on the bottom of the plate. Then run a knife around the ramekin and dip the bottom of each ramekin quickly in a bowl of hot tap water. Invert the panna cotta into the plate and serve. Bon Appetit!