Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sweet and Yummy

I love making all kinds of panna cottas. Panna cottas are silky and luxurious and are super easy to make. I ate a yummy and beautifully plated panna cotta at a new upscale restaurant in Cambridge not too long ago. Don't get me wrong, it was pretty good but a homemade panna cotta can measure up to a restaurant panna cotta any day. And a homemade one will costs a fraction of what you pay at a restaurant. All you need is really good cream. I brought this dessert at a friend's party. :-)

1/2 tablespoon of unflavored gelatin
2 small cans of Nestle Media Crema or table cream
1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
1 can of coconut milk
1/2 cup of sugar(more if you like it sweeter)

Combine everything except for the unflavored gelatin in a medium sauce pan.
Simmer for 20 minutes until everything is well combined. Slowly sprinkle the gelatin into the hot liquid. Stir to combine. Do this slowly because you don't want the gelatin powder forming into tiny clumps. Transfer into ramekins or molded containers and refrigerate for at least 16 hours.

This is such a rich dessert so I made a passion fruit caramel to go on top. The acid in the passion fruit gives this panna cotta a little more edge. Reduce equal parts of sugar and water, until mixture starts to caramelize. Making caramel takes a lot of patience so be patient. Carefully add unsweetened passion fruit juice to the caramel and stir to combine. Cool overnight and then drizzle on top of the panna cotta before serving. Bien Provecho!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

His Birthday. :-)

For my husband's birthday weekend this year, I surprised him with a special eight course dinner on the eve of his birthday.

The first course is a "A Study in Olives." I made most of the food from scratch except for the green and black tapanade, and a couple of other items like the kaiso salad and of course the cheese in the cheese course. The Tapanade/Olives are from Whole Foods Market.

The Second Course: Cold Bing Cherry Soup with Kirsch. This is a double shot of cherries in the form of Bing cherries and Kirsch or Kirschwasser ( a cherry liqueur from Germany ). I first discovered cold soups during a cruise with Celebrity Cruises. The Cold cherry soup was the best one we had there so I recreated it for my hubby on his birthday. The taste is similar to a Hungarian Sour Cherry Soup but with an extra kick.

The Third Course: Salad Greens with fresh water chestnuts, slow roasted beets and Chinese plums. I dressed the salad with a Maile Dijon vinaigrette.

The Fourth Course:
We love Sashimi and so I made him checkered Hamachi(yellow tail) and salmon sashimi plate with Kaiso seaweed salad. I purchased the kaiso seaweed salad along with Grade A raw fish from a local Japanese market.

The Sixth Course: Mussel and Saffron soup. I made the mussel infused Spanish saffron broth and then made a roux in a separate pot. I added the broth, lots of cream and tender mussels and spices to the roux.

The Seventh Course(Main course):
Twiced cooked pork belly with roasted garlic mashed potatoes. This took the longest to make. I bought a huge slab of fresh rindless pork belly from one of my favorite local butchers and braised it in juniper berries, allspice and other aromatics for hours. Then, I cooled it down, rubbed it with LOTS of Maile whole grain Dijon mustard and other pork friendly spices like oregano. I baked it in a 350 degree oven until it was golden brown. Three cheers for pork belly.

The Seventh Course/The Cheese Course:
We love the Cheese Course at L'Espalier and Adjour'hui so I included a cheese course in his birthday menu. I picked two cheeses, one of which he is familiar with and loves -- Gruyere. The other one is an amazing and very creamy "double cream" blue cheese called St. Agur from the Basque region of France. I added gigantic fresh blackberries and homemade honeyed quince chunks.

The final course
-- I kept the dessert course simple. This homemade chocolate malt pudding is made with lots of melted Dove chocolate bars and malt milk powder. I garnished the pudding with "white chocolate pearls."

Tonight's cocktail : I made my version of a Cape Cod Cocktail with Nantucket Nectar Cranberry juice, Smirnoff Vodka, Gran Marnier and freshly squeezed orange juice.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Figs and Prosciutto

I first had the fig-prosciutto combination at a popular eclectic pizza joint called Figs in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Figs is the brain child of celebrity chef Todd English. Figs is a few steps from English's flagship restaurant Olives(another favorite in Charlestown). When we crave for a "different" kind of pizza, we head over to Figs. Figs offers a delicious figs and prosciutto pizza. The marriage of figs and prosciutto is a classic sweet and savory combination. I used these two ingredients in our appetizer the other night.

Slice figs and top with Prosciutto di Parma and brown sugar.
Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes until the brown sugar caramelizes on top. The prosciutto will crisp up and mingle nicely with the figs and brown sugar.