Sunday, February 27, 2011

Citrus Panna Cotta with Fruit Compote for Daring Baker Challenge ~ My Fruit Basket

Panna cotta it is.... Had made a firm resolve to make the Daring Baker Challenge well in time instead of panicking in the last few days n scrambling to finish it.... It sure looks like a simple recipe... It's just about cooking the ingredients together... getting the flavours right.... n pop it in the refrigerator to set.... How Difficult can that be.... Wait n Watch in the post below how I managed to complicate my life beyond words.....

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

Winters in Delhi is abundant with fresh fruit flooding the market... I decided to take full advantage of that and make lots of fruit flavours for the Daring Baker Challenge of Panna Cotta... but I must admit that being so overwhelmed and absorbed with the Panna Cotta, I never got around to making the cookies.

My choice of flavours was Strawberry, Grape, Pineapple, Pomegranate and Orange n Lemon as the citrus base... While so many fruits were happening, how could I miss Chocolate and Coffee.... :)

Panna cotta (from Italian cooked cream) is an Italian dessert made by simmering together cream, milk and sugar, mixing this with gelatin, and letting it cool until set. It is generally from the Northern Italian region of Piemonte, although it is eaten all over Italy, where it is served with wild berries, caramel, chocolate sauce or fruit coulis. It is not known exactly how or when this dessert came to be, but some theories suggest that cream, for which mountainous Northern Italy is famous, was historically eaten plain or sweetened with fruit or hazelnuts. Earlier recipes for the dish used boiled fish bones in place of gelatin; sugar, later a main ingredient, would not have been widely available as it was an expensive imported commodity. After years this treat evolved into what is now a gelatin dessert, flavored with vanilla and topped with fruit or spices, and served chilled.
Somewhat similar versions of this dish are found in Greece, France and Finland. [Source:Wikipedia].

This was the Pineapple Panna Cotta... made a pineapple compote [jam like thick sauce by boiling pineapple juice, fresh pineapple and some sugar.] to go with the citrus flavours in the panna cotta

The pineapple citrus panna cotta was very refreshing and a very distinct taste....

Citrus Panna Cotta With Fruit Compote

1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
1 tablespoon (one packet) (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
3 cups (720 ml) whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
1/3 cup (80 ml) honey
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) granulated sugar
Zest of 1 orange and 2 lemons
Fresh fruit of your choice [juice/jam of the fruit is optional]
pinch of salt

1. Make the fruit compote by boiling together fruit juice/jam, fresh fruit and sugar as per taste and the fresh fruit used.
2. Pour the milk into a bowl or pot and sprinkle gelatin evenly and thinly over the milk (make sure the bowl/pot is cold by placing the bowl/pot in the refrigerator for a few minutes before you start making the Panna Cotta). Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
3. Pour the cream into the saucepan/pot and place over medium heat on the stove. Heat this mixture until it is hot, but not boiling, about five minutes. Stir continuously.
4. Next, add the honey, sugar, vanilla and pinch of salt. Making sure the mixture doesn’t boil, add the milk and gelatin, continue to heat and stir occasionally until the sugar and honey have dissolved in 5-7 minutes.
5. Remove from heat, allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. Then pour into the glass or ramekin in which the fruit compote has already been set..
6. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Add garnishes and serve.

My neighbour had a special request for Pomegranate as a flavour.... How can I turn down someone who requests for a flavour... So on our way back from watching the movie 'Band Baaja Baarat', we picked up pomegranate juice..... Pomegranate Panna cotta here we come....

I realized that pomegranate juice is way too watery for reducing into a saucy consistency without loosing it's flavour... So I used the fruit in it's entire goodness... My neighbour refused to get himself clicked while eating it..... He liked it enough to take back some more for his dad and girlfriend..... That's testimony enough for me....

Another fruit which I haven't used in it's fresh form while baking is Grapes.... Another challenge over come by way of Grape Panna Cotta...

My sister and her friend Sharath loved the grape panna cotta. They were extremely amused while watching me photograph the panna cotta. They knew from previous experience of the Swiss Swirl Icecream Cake that they'll just have to wait for the goodies till I was done taking pictures :) Having waited quite impatiently thru the photography session, watching me ooohhh and aaahhhh when I upturned the panna cotta n release it from the silicon cups, their amusement was boundless.....

Another friend of my sister from school had come over, Anubha.... She choose to have the Chocolate panna cotta.... I sometimes wonder why most of us cannot see beyond chocolate... everything chocolate is good and made even better with Coffeeeeeeee........

This is.. These were the remains of a Coffee, Chocolate layered Panna Cotta which was polished off in a matter of seconds.... Am I complaining.... absolutely not..... We fought over it with spoons n were giggling like kids.... Sharath was seen sulking as my sister n I gobbled up the majority of it.... Sharath don't worry will certainly make some more for you..... Ok I heard you LOUD n CLEAR..... LOTS-MORE-ONLY-FOR-SHARATH..... :)

Saved the sweetest n cutest ones till the end of the post Strawberry Panna Cotta.... The market is now getting fewer and fewer of these amazing luscious berries which I can never get enough of....

I didn't have to work very hard to make the strawberry compote, it was a breeze. Have been having so much fun with strawberries this season. The Strawberry n Almond Brownies, Chocolate Dipped Strawberries for Valentines and Strawberry Peppermint Brownies.

The shot glasses made me practice how to make angled layers.... Awww.... Don't they look so pretty... The pink blush of strawberries.... :)))))
Strawberry Pannacotta and Strawberry Brownies with Strawberry Crush..... am I tripping on strawberries... oh yes I am..... I had to bid them an appropriate adieu.... Bye bye strawberries, but only till next year... Will wait for ya.... :))))

Had just way too much fun making these and sharing them with everyone.... It's so simple to make and absolutely heavenly n creamy. An absolute keeper which should be repeated many times over for the sheer ease of producing something fantastic in such little time :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Red Love ~ Happy Valentines

For once, I'm at a loss for words.... this picture says it all... Love, Strawberries, Chocolate and everything RED.... :)

She came, She saw, She Conquered......
Thanks for taking this Picture, Diya :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Strawberry Peppermint Brownies ~ Sharing Some Sisterly Love, Happy Valentine's Day

Love… love… love….. it’s in the air…. Can something express more love than chocolates and strawberries…. A love fresher than mint…. So let’s put them together…. And we have Strawberry Peppermint Brownies…..

I had done cherry brownies sometime ago... but with strawberries calling out to me from the stands.... How could I not put Chocolate and Strawberries together. The Sun must rise on these yummy brownies made as cupcakes....

Diya and mamu were here for a few days... So let the professionals get to work while I work in the kitchen....

Strawberry Brownies

100 gms Chocolate
1 cup Flour (minus 1 heaped tsp)
1 heaped tsp Cocoa Powder
3/4 cup Castor Sugar
3/4 cup softened Butter
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
4 Eggs
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 cup chopped Fresh Strawberries + extra for decoration[optional]
Crushed peppermint for garnishing

1. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees. Prepare the cupcake moulds by linking with parchment paper, I used ready made butter paper cups.
2. Place the chopped
Strawberries in a cup and add 1/2 the Sugar to them, set aside for them to macerate.
3. In a double boiler{over hot water} melt the chocolate and butter. Mix well till both are melted and incorporated.
4. Cool to slightly higher than room temperature.
5. Stir in rest of the sugar and vanilla.
6. Stir in chopped strawberries in the above mixture and let them sit for a bit. In the mean time beat the eggs.
7. Add lightly beaten eggs slowly to the above mixture, while mixing.
8. Stir in the sifted flour and salt. mix very lightly till incorporated.
9. Pour mixture evenly in the tray.
10. Garnish with some peppermint on top.
11. Bake in the pre-heated oven, reducing temperature to 180 degrees.
12. Bake for about 30-40 minutes till skewer come clean. [Watch the crust, it burns fast...]
13. Sprinkle with rest of the crushed peppermint after it cools

Diya and I had a glorious time with these soft moist n flavourful brownies in a cupcake..... I sent some over for my sister[she's someone who doesn't enjoy desserts... yeah we're poles apart n She's stick thin ;)] in Mumbai.... She loved them.... That's 1 big test passed for these yummy babies cause she wants M-O-R-E and says 'the strawberry cup cake was awsome...'

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Measuring Up Limitless Love in Hearts

There are some friends who just K-N-O-W..... one such is Shuchi, She has this 'Never-Say-Never' spirit and is a very very dedicated and loyal friend who'll show me the mirror, pamper me, spoil me, set-me-straight, inspire me whenever I need whichever. She just Knows... I don't need to tell her, 1 phone call n she knows.... perceptive little jerry mouse she is.

Shuchi got me these measuring spoons from Singapore along with some other things[coming up in a separate post].... This song 'Secret' by Seal remind me uncannily of Shuchi... :) It's quite repetitive but comfortingly so... just like her.... She K-N-O-W-S.... and we B-E-L-O-N-G....

Thanks so much for the lovely pictures Diya :)

Happy Valentines Girls :)