Panna Cotta

Panna CottaJonathan planned a dinner to celebrate our engagement two years ago.  One of my favourite parts was the dessert – a delicious panna cotta, which I have been meaning to make in my own kitchen for a long time!  Panna Cotta is a tasty dessert that is silky and creamy with a hint of vanilla.  Panna cotta in Italian translates to ‘cooked cream’ and that’s enough to make me fall in love with the dessert.  Jonathan chose it as a dessert for our engagement dinner because of its flavour, silky texture and the added bonus that it’s nut free.

I decided to make this dessert yesterday and it turned out wonderfully.  The little blue bowls I used were a bridal shower gift from my friends Emily and Allee and they were perfect for this scrumptious little dessert.  The recipe I used was from the Joy of Baking website.  I used the recipe because I wanted a video to show me how to make one of my favourite desserts.  I also didn’t want to waste whipping cream!  The recipe turned out perfectly and I will make this recipe again soon I am sure.  The panna cotta is garnished with homemade blueberry jam, but you can use fresh fruit.

Now that I have had success with this recipe I have many other ideas for little desserts.  A particular family favourite are parfaits!  My Dad used to make them for us when we were little and we loved them.  My Dad has a copy of the Jell-o cookbook, but I will make my own jelly using plain gelatin and fresh juice from the juicer.  I saw a recipe for half apple and half pomegranate layered jelly desserts and it looks irresistible!Panna Cotta

Makes 6 individual servings.

Ingredients:

1 package (1/4 ounce) (7 grams) unflavored powdered gelatin

1/4 cup (60 ml) cold milk

2 1/4 cups (540 ml) heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup (60 grams) confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar)

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Blueberry jam or fruit for garnish

Instructions:

For this recipe you will need 6 half-cup dessert cups (little bowls or wine glasses are my favourite).

  1. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold milk in a small bowl.  Let the mixture sit for about 5 – 10 minutes. The idea is that the gelatin needs time to soften, swell, and become spongy.
  2. In a medium saucepan mix the cream and sugar.  Bring it just to a boil (or very hot with lots of steam coming off the top).  Stir well to dissolve the icing sugar.
  3. When the cream and sugar is very hot or just at boiling remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the gelatin mixture.
  4. Stir well until the gelatin is dissolved. If necessary, return the saucepan to the stove and stir over low heat (make sure you no longer see gelatin crystals). Stir in the vanilla extract at this point.
  5. Pour the cream into the dessert little bowls or wine glasses and place in the refrigerator. The panna cotta must chill for two to four hours, or until set.  Panna cotta can be made one to two days before serving.
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Culinary Adventures

The Flying Chestnut Kitchen in Eugenia, Ontario
It seems like forever since Jonathan and I were driving up to Eugenia to try out The Flying Chesnut Kitchen, a restaurant run by fellow Trent University alum Shawn Adler.  The atmosphere was fun and vibrant.  The meal we had there was the absolute definition of gourmet.  Once more warm weather hits, I think Jonathan and I will be making another reservation.

I was flipping through my photos and came across these pictures.  The pictures were too good not to post on my blog.  The restaurant focuses on locally grown, seasonal foods. The style is homemade, but yet gourmet.

The third picture there is a homemade soda that was absolutely delicious.  I really loved the way the picture turned out.  However, maybe if you put anything in a mason jar glass it seems prettier.  Or that is what Pinterest would have us believe.  The drinks and dinning atmosphere definetly merit another visit this spring.

To read Jonathan’s article for Trent Alumni magazine about the Flying Chestnut Kitchen, click here and go to page 12.

Czehoski Restaurant in Toronto
This restaurant is where I first realized how much I love Jonathan.  At the time we were just friends, going out for drinks and dinners in Toronto after work.  However, one night we were there for drinks and I was listening in on a first date that was going on at the table next to us.  After listening for several minutes I realized how Jonathan and I were a far superior couple.  We were best friends, with similar interests in politics, history and culinary adventure.  From that moment on, I knew Jonathan and I were something special.  The rest is history.

Below the picture is of a homemade toasted marshmallow from Czehoski. They made it especially for me – it wasn’t on the menu –  and it was delicious!

Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario
This is the wonderful panna cotta that the head chef at Trent University prepared for Jonathan and I.  Jonathan selected my favourite ingredients for a special dinner at Trent University Alumni House to celebrate our engagement.  It was such a wonderful and exciting time and this dessert was phenomenal.

Keriwa Cafe in Toronto
Last September, we made reservations at Keriwa Cafe in Toronto.  The food was delightful.  Since the chef knew about my allergies in advance, he prepared a special pumpkin pie dessert for both of us.  Jonathan has declared that this is one of his favourite restaurants in Toronto.  He definitely wants to go back for his birthday this year.  However, I’m sure we will be going sooner.

Fun Cafe Art
Cafes usually have a funky vibe and some local artist’s work on the walls.  This piece of art was on the walls at The Big Guy’s Coffee Shop, one of the many cafes that Jonathan and I have visited in Toronto.  It’s really one of my favourite pictures.  I think in our future home we could recreate something similar.  Perhaps in our kitchen?