Monday, November 10, 2008

Panna Cotta (Page 835)


  • Date: Monday, November 3, 2008 -- 10pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companions: Matty, Teresa, and Mike M
  • Recipe Rating: B

This recipe is a remnant of my weeks of selecting recipes that took 15 minutes or less to prepare. I bought all the ingredients for this the week before last and then couldn't even find the 15 minutes (plus the requisite energy) to prepare it. So it was still on the list last week, and with a touch more time on my hands, I finally made it. I started by letting some gelatin soften in a small bowl of water. Meanwhile I brought cream, half-and-half, and sugar to a boil. I stirred some of the hot creamy mixture into the gelatin until it dissolved and then stirred the gelatin mixture into the cream. I then stirred in some vanilla extract and divided the mixture among 8 oiled ramekins. I refrigerated the ramekins until the panna cotta set. Then I ran a knife along the edge, dipped them in warm water, and inverted them onto dessert plates (truth be told, I only did that for the one you see above. The others we just ate out of the ramekins -- less hassle!). This panna cotta was pretty good. I have to admit, panna cotta isn't really my favorite. It's essentially just cream set with gelatin (usually with some flavoring -- here: vanilla). Cream is good, and gelatin isn't bad, so it's not as though it tastes bad. It's just not my favorite texture. I vastly prefer a baked custard made with egg. Mmmmm.... creamy and delicious. And not gelatinous. To be fair, if you didn't know this was set with gelatin, you might not guess. It was still relatively creamy. I wasn't too taken with it, but my special gentleman ate six of these in two or three days -- he liked them a lot!

The recipe in The Book is very similar to this one.

I was scrolling down the Project Index recently and realized that my special gentleman was rapidly approaching the 500 recipe mark. In fact, this very recipe is the 501st recipe from The Book that he has eaten and/or helped prepare! I met me special gentleman about 8 months after starting this project, and he has been super-supportive from the first day I told him about it! Ok, actually that's not precisely true. In the first few weeks that he and I were dating, I was pretty busy and the project was going along a little slower than usual. I ate a lot of macaroni and cheese from a box in those couple weeks. So much, in fact, that my special gentleman said to me, "I don't know how you are ever going to finish that project you told me about when all you ever eat is macaroni and cheese." That comment made me a little defensive -- I would too finish! I do eat things other than Mac and Cheese! A couple weeks (and some saltimbocca and chocolate souffle) later, having benefited from several book meals, my special gentleman came around to my project. Since then he has been a huge source of support! I am sure that I wouldn't be as far along as I am now if he were not in my life. Not only is he a very flexible and excited eater, but he is a great help in the kitchen (when I can convince him to cook with me!) and he is very patient with the silliness that sometimes entails from doing a project as ridiculous as this (on more than one occasion we have gone to 5 or 6 stores in a row searching for one ingredient, and he has been very, very patient!). This project wouldn't be nearly as fun without him, and I am tremendously grateful for all of his support!


Jessica said...

I love that story--and I am having the same experience. Without the support (and stomach) of my boyfriend I could never do a cook-through project.

Katie Flanagan said...

I love the panna cotta at Macaroni Grill. I guess it's embarassing that I love Macaroni Grill :-) They serve it with strawberries macerated in some kind of booze, though. I recommend that preparation.

On another note, I'd love to know when a Math PhD had time to go to culinary school.

Teena said...

Jessica: Yeah, having strong support is essential!

Katie: Strawberries definitely would have helped. I was just too busy to have time to run out and get some!

I went to culinary school while I was in graduate school. The program was about half a year, 20 hours of class per week. It was certainly tiring, but most of my classes at the culinary school were in the evening (one of my labs was from 4:30 pm until about 1am, for instance) so it didn't interfere too much with my schedule at MIT. I was definitely exhausted by the time I was done, but I had such a great time -- I would happily do it again!