Friday, June 22, 2012

earth's bounty


Well, it's officially summer time! And Mother Nature sure as heck guaranteed that we were aware of it, at least here in New York.  It's been, and will be for the coming few days, close to 100 degrees! That is crazy.  I walked outside and nearly got punched in the face by the heat...seriously. That being said, I'm not really complaining.  I like the heat, as long as there's not 100% humidity! It puts me in the mood for all things summer - I felt like going to the beach and eating fish tacos,  or going for a sail and enjoying a nice spread of crudite while anchored, or just plain hanging out in the park with a frisbee and a nice little picnic basket filled to the brim with deliciousness! Needless to say, I failed on the planning front, so none of that happened.  A girl can dream!  What I was able to do was pick up some beautiful baby vegetables at the market and make a fresh, delicious mid-afternoon snack.  


I had been jones-ing to make a goat's milk panna cotta (why? we'll never know) for quite some time, and this day seemed like the perfect day!  You do need to plan a bit ahead to let the panna cotta set, but if you start it off early in the morning, everything will be ready to go when you make it back from your day's adventures. The great thing about this panna cotta is that you can do almost ANYTHING with it - replace regular goat cheese in most recipes with the panna cotta for a little something special.  You can utilize it in desserts, with a little honey drizzled over top and maybe some toasted nuts, with fresh berries tossed with an aged balsamic, or just as I've done it here, with some lightly cooked vegetables.  I really wanted to recreate a go-to salad I make often that includes dried cherries, duck breast, and grilled peaches - I was looking for duck prosciutto to really give it a kick, but that will have to wait until next time!



Goat Milk Panna Cotta
2 gelatin sheets
1 C cream
1 C goat milk
1/2 C goat cheese
6 whole black peppercorns 
8 sprigs fresh thyme
1 t salt  

To start, soak the gelatin sheets in cold water until they are pliable and soft - about 5 to 7 minutes. While the gelatin is soaking, heat the remaining ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, letting it all come to a simmer, stirring often and ensuring that the cheese has melted fully.  Allow the mixture to simmer for about 5 minutes, then strain out the peppercorns and thyme.   Remove the gelatin sheets from water and wring them out as best as possible.  Stir the sheets into the milk mixture until dissolved.  Finally, pour the mixture into molds or ramekins - whichever you prefer.  I used small spherical molds, but you can definitely use a small muffin pan, or whatever else you have on hand.  Allow the panna cotta to chill for at least 4 hours (as long as a day!), until firm.



Truffled Vegetables
Any assortment of baby vegetables!
Sea Salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Truffle Oil
Butter (if you're serious!)

So, this isn't really much of a recipe, but I figured I'd let you all know what I paired with the panna cotta this time around.  I picked up a bunch of small vegetables - baby fennel, baby purple artichoke, an assortment of new potatoes, french breakfast radishes, watermelon radishes, baby carrots, baby beets, squash blossoms and English peas, along with some micro greens and pea shoots.  

i also love to use thinly sliced radishes, especially watermelon, in place of tortilla chips. Just watch your thumb on the mandoline (no prior experience implied...)

I prepped each of the vegetables individually and quickly blanched them (all but the watermelon radish and squash blossoms) until JUST tender, finally placing them in an ice bath to retain their bright color. Right before serving, I cooked the blanched vegetables along with the squash blossoms in a touch of butter, finishing them with a nice truffle oil and a bit of white pepper and Maldon sea salt for crunch.  Everything was plated together and ready to go! 


Really, this is a decadent, delicious, and simple dish - especially once the panna cotta is prepared!  The panna cotta itself had an amazing flavor and texture - the creamy goodness of the milk combined with a bit of cream and goat cheese lended an almost velvet-like texture, and there was just a hint of thyme inside.  The vegetables were perfectly al dente - the truffle oil gave a fabulous earthiness to each vegetable, but still allowed the fresh flavor of each component to really come through.  

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