So I have just started watching the latest season of MasterChef Australia. Yeah, the season has just recently ended, and much to my horror, I accidentally got to know who the winner is by reading a friend’s post on Facebook. 😦 But still enjoying the show regardless! I am so, so, so awed and inspired by the contestants! I can’t believe the kind of dishes and plating they are doing in the first few weeks of the competition. Personally, I really enjoy MasterChef Australia a lot more than the original MasterChef. I feel that there’s a lot more about cooking, and more mentoring and advice given by the judges and guest judges. I as a viewer, seemed to also be learning more from watching how the contestants cook, the ingredients they use and the way they present their food. Oh my goodness, the way they present their food – I’m so inspired!
Anyway, for the first few episodes, panna cotta appeared quite a few times. I have heard of panna cotta but never tasted one nor know exactly what it is (like I said, I have really just started out on my cooking adventures and not really the most sophisticated diner!) and watching them create those lovely jiggly things just piqued my curiosity! So I decided to try making some. Luckily, one of my favourite recipe books, The Joy of Cooking, has the recipe. And I can’t quite believe how it easy the recipe reads! The prep work and cooking involved is very simple but it does take a long while for the panna cotta to set (3 hours), so you have to start early. And after that, you can just pair it with whatever toppings you fancy. It’s a weeknight, so I decided to make things simple and just pair the panna cotta with raspberry coulis (again, I heard this term on MasterChef) and fresh berries. You can make 4-6 servings with this recipe, depending on the size of your ramekins. And oh, if you are going to take the panna cotta out and put on a plate, I would suggest using little plastic cups (like those for jellos) or silicon moulds so that you can squeeze them out easily. I used porcelain ramekins and it was just a nightmare getting them out in good shape.
Here are the results of my experiment. The recipes for the panna cotta and raspberry follow.
3 tbsp water
2 1/4 teaspoon unflavoured gelatin
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk (I used 2%)
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split length wise (optional)
1 tsp vanilla if not using vanilla bean
1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)
Lightly oil six 4-6 ounces cups or molds. Pour into a small bowl 3 tbsp water and the gelatin. Let stand for 5 min to soften. Combine in a saucepan the heavy cream, milk and sugar. Stirring, bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat. Remove from the heat and add the gelatin and stir for 1 min until completely dissolved. Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts. Pour the mixture into the prepared cups or molds and refrigerate until firmly set, about 3 hours. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of each cream and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Unmold onto plates and serve with a fresh fruit sauce and/or sliced fresh fruits.
Recipe for Raspberry Coulis (from The Joy of Cooking)
(I know…it sounds so exotic to the layman like I am…but it’s just raspberry blended with sugar!)
Puree in a blender or food processor:
1 pint raspberries or 12 ounces frozen dry-pack raspberries, thawed.
3 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons strained lemon juice.
Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Serve at once, either at room temperature or chilled, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.