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Panna Cotta with Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote

I have a confession. I’ve never made panna cotta.

But a couple of weeks back, I was attending a Top Chef Canada party at the Cactus Club, where Chef Matthew Stowe (now Top 3! Go Matt!!) was in attendance, and made this savoury panna cotta. It was a Cauliflower Panna Cotta with Citrus, spot prawns and micro greens, and it was delicious! I’m pretty sure I’d never had a savory panna cotta before. In fact, my life has been lacking in panna cotta in general. But after eating Chef Matt’s, I was determined to change that!

Top Chef Canada's @ChefMattStowe's Panna Cotta

There is something about the mouth-feel of panna cotta–its silkiness in your mouth is a hedonistic delight.

Panna cotta is actually really simple to make. You know how much I love my creme brûlée.  I thought it would be on an equal level of difficulty, but it actually is much simpler, even though it’s made with similar ingredients. The toughest part of panna cotta is unmolding it. But there’s a very simple solution to that–don’t. Serve it in the mold. I made some of mine in ramekins, which I did unmold and then sauced, but I made some in mason jars, and I just served them as-is, with the sauce on top. There were a lot of compliments.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Panna Cotta

Michael and I had just been to the Farmer’s Market, and came home with fresh strawberries and rhubarb, which got turned into a compote. The sweet-tartness of the compote with the smooth, creamy panna cotta is an absolute winner-winner-chicken-dinner.

Panna Cotta

(adapted from David Lebovitz)

Panna cotta with strawberry rhubarb compote

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 packets powdered gelatin (Knox), or an equal amount of agar-agar (vegetarian option)
  • 3 tablespoons cold water

Method:

  1. Lightly oil four custard cups with a neutral-tasting oil (vegetable or coconut).
  2. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water, and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Heat the heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan over low-medium heat. Once it is steaming, remove from heat and add the vanilla.
  4. Pour the very warm Panna Cotta mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
  5. Divide the Panna Cotta mixture into the prepared cups, then chill them until firm (at least 2 hours).
  6. Unmold (or don’t) and serve with Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote on top.

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