Posts Tagged: panna cotta

Sep 10

Tea time, mark II


As promised, a second tea post. If you tried my suggestion for flavouring a panna cotta with jasmine tea then you’ll know all about its floral notes, delicate perfume and ethereal taste. If you haven’t tried it, no excuses! Whip up a batch and serve with the new season’s apples caramelised in a little butter and sugar.

On to the latest jasmine tea inspired creation, which I cannot lay claim to creating, but instead have borrowed from Henrietta Lovell, the tea lady from my previous post.

I posted on twitter to get some great cocktail ideas in and she tweeted me with a simple, late summer idea that was inspiration, delicious and above all, quick and easy to make. This is a short, silky cocktail that should be served very cold

Click here for my recipe for jasmine and elderflower

Apr 10

The perfect poach


Poaching is a wonderfully delicate, gentle and subtle method of cooking. A poached egg is a luxurious, melting treat – breaking into one and watching its golden, silky yolk flowing across a piece of buttered toast is as close to food perfection as one can get. A scattering of sea salt and a few grinds of the pepper mill are all the garnish this plate needs.

Poaching is a great way to cook fruit too – their flavour is sweetened, their flesh softened, taking even the hardiest of ripen-at-home fruits and turning it into a fragrant and luscious pudding. Vanilla flecked thick Greek yogurt makes an ideal accompaniment.

Rhubarb seems to lend itself best to a very gentle poach. I’m sure London’s top chefs would cook it sous-vide (in a temperature controlled water bath) for hours on a very low heat. For me though, a fairly weak sugar syrup (1 part sugar to 8 parts water) is all that is called for. Finger-length pieces swim around over a very low flame, cooking for maybe eight to ten minutes.

A gentle turn half way through to ensure even cooking, then I spoon them out of the liquor before cranking up the heat and reducing the syrup to a quarter of its volume or so. I remove it from the heat, add a splash of Prosecco and spoon it over the rhubarb before serving it alongside one of my favourite puddings -caramel panna cottas.

A final sprinkle of some crushed Amaretti biscuits is all that is needed to give the final dish some contrasting crunch to go with the perfectly cooked rhubarb.

May 09

Sweet sensation – caramel and vanilla panna cotta

pana-cotta-a.jpgThere are few desserts as simple and satisfying as panna cotta. Not only are they perfect for preparing ahead of a dinner party, but somehow it seems like cheating as they are just so quick and easy.

Whenever I make them I always whip up a second batch to experiment with, adding different ingredients like fruit purees or infusing the milk with a range of additions. Some of my favourites include the Rare Tea Company’s aromatic and floral Jasmine tea (the best tea in the world, in my book) and lemon zest or a herb like lemon verbena.

The latest batch I made were during one of my ‘caramel phases’, when everything I make has a caramel lurking in it somewhere (including some rather exquisite cocktails). Essentially this is rather like a set butterscotch but a tad lighter. It’s devilishly delicious – and would be perfect served with some of the season’s poached rhubarb and a crushed amaretti biscuit for texture.

Caramel and vanilla panna cotta

Ingredients (serves 4)

•    100g sugar
•    1 vanilla pod
•    250ml whole milk
•    250ml double cream
•    2.5 sheets leaf gelatin


In a heavy based saucepan melt the sugar over a low heat. Do not stir. When the mixture is liquid add the seeds and the shell of the vanilla pod. Allow the mixture to cook for several minutes until it goes the colour of mahogany but don’t let it burn. As far as caramel is concerned, the darker it is – the more flavour you have,

Pour in the cream. The mixture will bubble furiously for a moment and the sugar may seize, but keep stirring and it will all go liquid again. Add the milk and cook for a further couple of minutes. Remove from the heat, strain and reserve.

Soften the gelatin in a bowl of cold water for five minutes. Take out of the bowl and squeeze the excess water from it. Add to the butterscotch mixture. Pour into four dariole molds or ramekins and refrigerate for at least four hours, but preferably overnight.

Either serve in the ramekins or if you want to turn them out, dip the molds or ramekins in boiling water for a few seconds before up-turning on a plate. They may need a little shake.

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