Yogurt panna cotta with balsamic vinegar caramelized nectarines and rosemary

Yogurt panna cotta with balsamic vinegar caramelized nectarines and rosemary

I read in an article a while ago that prejudices can be useful sometimes – especially when facing unprecedented, possibly dangerous, situations. Prejudices give us, in some sorts, a pre-digested knowledge of anything, and it may be a good starting point. But avoiding making discernments on our own is a crime.
I don’t understand how can one possibly give up freedom of reasoning, of building their own ideas on anything. It requires study and effort, oftentimes. But it is far much better than being stuck on the doorstep, saying no in principle, giving up the use of one’s brain because someone already thought in your place (often badly).
This is the story of this truly simple recipe. It came out from an idea I stole from Sara of @shanty_la_gatta IG profile, who made a terrific tart with the balsamic vinegar. At the beginning I wondered about the use of balsamic vinegar in desserts – but clearly the answer was yes! That’s how I thought of balancing the sourness of the balsamic vinegar with panna cotta, that is quite sweet and velvety. And that’s where the magic happened.
The recipe is the one of the panna cotta you can see here. The balsamic vinegar sauce I created on the spot. To make it more aromatic, I roasted the nectarines with rosemary, which goes along great with peaches. This is all to serve you this yogurt panna cotta with balsamic vinegar caramelized nectarines and rosemary. If you want to take my advice, make use you use white balsamic vinegar, it will give you a wonderful golden syrup that will be perfect for your food photography! If you don’t find it, at least remember to remove most of the peaches you want to use as topping from the vinegar soon after cooking, so they will not absorb all of the colour and will remain nice and yellowy.
Ingredients (serves 4)
125 ml fresh cream
125 ml milk + 4 tablespoons
4 gr di gelatine
60 gr powdered sugar
190 gr greek yogurt
zest of half a lemon + 2 tablespoons of juice

50 gr balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
2 tablespoons honey
Fresh rosemary

Preparation
Let the gelatine soak in cold water – minimum time depending on the instructions on the gelatine case.
Pour the milk into a small casserole with the fresh cream and bring it to simmering point.
Take it off the stove and add the powdered sugar; stir well to prevent lumps.
Then add the zest and the lemon juice, stir and let it sit to cool down.
When lukewarm add the greek yogurt and stir well again.
Lastly, squeeze the gelatine, put in it a small pan with a couple of tablespoons of yogurt, and just after it’s melted pour it into the cream. Mix well and then pour the cream with the yogurt in glasses or other moulds of your choice and let it sit into the fridge for at least 4 hours. I let it cool well overnight, and it worked just perfectly.

Whilst the panna cotta cools down, put in a baking tray the nectarines, sliced in about half centimetre think slices. In a small bowl mix the balsamic vinegar, the honey and the powdered sugar and mix well. Then pour over the peaches, spread the fresh rosemary on top at bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes.

Once baked, remove the nectarines and let them cool at room temperature on one side. Then sieve the caramelized balsamic vinegar and set aside to cool down too.

Take the panna cotta glasses out of the fridge some 5 minutes before serving, and serve it with a few spoonful of vinegar balsamic sauce, some nectarine slices and a bit of fresh rosemary.

Almond puddings with strawberry coulis

Almond puddings with strawberry coulis

This is quite a peculiar year for many reasons. The pandemic turned our life upside down, and from now on whenever we make a reference to anything, we’ll just acknowledge a before and after. Many of us are striving to go back to their life before, this meaning going out, seeing friends, go clubbing perhaps.

In June Italians usually start discussing about their upcoming summer holidays, and this too is a way to go back to before. We would all need a good vacation. A vacation from fear, sadness, from the signs that lockdown left on us. Mid June is also generally acknowledged to sign the beginning of the swimsuit season, the beginning of the harshest dietary restrictions to fit in the bikini of twenty years before.

I wish everyone could finally fit in their own bikinis, and go back to our wonderful Italian beaches, and for this I am leaving you a low calories dessert to indulge on after lunch or dinner.

The almond puddings with strawberry coulis (but you could use raspberries, or any other berry) are also gluten and dairy free, so they’er perfect for vegans and for most of the people suffering from food allergy. They’re ready in no time at all, so no more excuses for this – you’ve got to try them!

Ingredients:
500 gr almond milk
30 gr almond flour (or almonds)
90 gr caster sugar
50 gr corn starch
50 gr strawberry jam
Juice of one small lemon

Procedure:
Heat the almond milk in a casserole.

In the meantime, put into a bowl the dry ingredients – that is almond flour, corn starch and sugar.
If you use almonds, you should finely chop them in your food processor with the sugar, then add them to the corn starch

As soon as the milk starts simmering, pour it onto the dry ingredients, and mix well to avoid lumps.
Use a hand whisk, if you have one.

Pour the mixture into the casserole again, and cook for a few minutes, until it starts thickening.

That then the casserole off the heat, and pour the mixture into the moulds of your choice.

Let them cool down a bit then put them into the refrigerator for at least three hours.

You can now prepare the coulis. Punt the jam into the blender jar together with the lemon juice (filtered) and blend it for a few seconds.

Put the strawberry sauce on top of your almond puddings and serve.

Mint and chocolate panna cotta

Mint and chocolate panna cotta

I’ve always loved the After Eight cookies, deliciously filled with mint and covered with chocolate. I loved them to stomach ache, and I have never eaten them ever since.
But the contrast between mint and chocolate is one of my favourites, and I have baked in time several tarts combining these flavours.
Mint and chocolate are quintessentially British, together with beans on toast and cream and strawberries. I went to London a couple of years ago and I found it culinary wise more European than its government would wish it to. I wonder whether it’s like this everywhere in Britain, or if in Bournemouth (where I studied so long ago) they keep on having those terrible cucumber sandwiches.

Today I am preparing for you a dessert embodying mint and chocolate in full. The mint and chocolate panna cotta joins together Italy and Britain, and it’s a perfect combination for flavour and taste. It’s also quite easy to prepare, and as summer is quickly on its way, it’s good to have a great recipe for a dessert which is fresh and full of flavour and does not require the oven.

What’s better than that?

Ingredients.
500 ml fresh cream
70 ml mint syrup
70 gr dark chocolate
5 gelatine leaves
Mint to decorate (quite optional)

Preparation:

Soak two gelatine sheets in cold water for about 10 minutes.

Then, put in a non-stick pan 200 ml of the fresh cream and the chocolate cut in chunks. Heat the cream until it gets to the simmering point, then turn the heat off and keep on stirring until the chocolate melts. Then add the gelatine sheets, well wringed out, and stir again until they dissolve.

Pour the cream in even parts in the glasses, and put into the refrigerator for half an hour to consolidate.

After 30 minutes, soak the remaining 3 gelatine sheets in cold water for about 10 minutes.
Then put the remaining cream in the non-stick pan with the mint syrup and bring it to simmering point.
Then turn the heat off, add the gelatine sheets (remember to always wring them out) and dissolve them in the warm cream.

Take the glasses with the chocolate cream out from the fridge, pour onto the chocolate cream the mint cream and put them again into the fridge for at least 2 hours (three would be better).

Before serving, you can sprinkle on top some grated chocolate and a few mint leaves.