Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My little Italian adventure - Part 3: Lime Panna cotta

Lime panna cotta (from above)

Here's one from the vault! A few months ago I started a series of postings entitled "My Little Italian Adventure". I think I promised three posts. Well, two of them has long been posted but this little one was lost, buried under the tons of draft posts that I have sitting in blogger.

Not anymore! Here is the final installment on "My little Italian adventure" series. We kicked off the series with an entree of a caprese salad. My first ever home made lasagne was served as the main and finally to polish off the meal, I present to you "Lime Panna Cotta".

I know, lime's not exactly a very Italian ingredient, but I was hooked when I saw this delicious looking Lime panna cotta recipe in the September 2006 issue of delicious magazine that had a lovely caramel coating on it. Very creme caramel like.

The recipe in the magazine makes 2 large panna cottas. That's a lot if I had to finish it by myself! Luckily, I found a vanilla panna cotta recipe of a smaller portion in Sophie Bambridge's Simply Italian (which I had been using as a guide throughout this series). So I decided to adapt the ingredients to the smaller recipe instead - just in case I had to finish it myself.


Lime panna cotta

Lime Panna Cotta
adapted from Sep 2006 issue of delicious and Simply Italian

Ingredients:

- Caramel
220g (1 cup) caster sugar
60ml water

- Panna cotta
Pared rind of 1 lime
2 kaffir lime leaves
450ml cream - pure or thick/double (Note: See verdict for suggestion)
4 tbsp caster sugar
3 leaves or 1¼ tsp gelatine powder

- Passionfruit caramel strawberries
125g caster sugar
40ml water + another 60ml water (for the caramel)
250g strawberries
juice and seeds of 3 passionfruit
3 kaffir lime leaves thinly sliced

Method:

- Caramel
  1. Place water and sugar in a small saucepan and stir over low heat to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Once dissolved, increase heat to medium, and without stirring, let the sugar cook for 5 - 6 minutes until the colour resembles toffee. (If required, you can use a wet pastry brush to brush down the crystals stuck on the side of the pan)
  3. Divide the caramel into 125ml capacity metal or ceramic ramekins and set aside to cool.
- Panna cotta
  1. Place cream, lime rind and lime leaves and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring as you go to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Once sugar has dissolved, let it simmer for about 3 minutes then remove from heat and set aside to infuse for approximately 10minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, (a) if using gelatine leaves, soak them in cold water for 5 minutes to soften and then squeeze out any excess water and add gelatine to the warm cream, stirring to dissolve. (b) If using gelatine powder, simply sprinkle it over the hot cream in an even layer and allow it to sit for a minute before stirring it into the cream until it dissolves.
  4. Strain cream mixture into a jug, discard the lime leaves and rind and then pour into the pre-prepared ramekins.
  5. Cover and chill overnight.
  6. To serve, dip the bases of each ramekin briefly into hot water (don't let the water get into the ramekin/mould) and then invert onto serving platters.

Note:
You might end up dipping the bases a few times before you are able to invert the panna cotta out of the ramekin. If there is trouble unmoulding it, use a small knife, toothpick or cake tester, run it around the outer edge and then tip it quickly into your serving plate.
- Strawberries
  1. Place sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and stir until sugar dissolves.
  2. Once dissolved, increase heat to medium, and without stirring, let the sugar cook for 5 - 6 minutes until the colour resembles toffee. (If required, you can use a wet pastry brush to brush down the crystals stuck on the side of the pan)
  3. Remove from heat and carefully add passionfruit juice and seeds to the pan with 1/4 cup of water.
  4. Return to stove and stir on low heat for 2 - 3 minutes until warmed through. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  5. Place in a bowl with strawberries and kaffir lime leaves and toss to coat.
  6. Serve as side to panna cotta.


lime pc polaroid

My verdict:

The panna cotta was surprisingly very very rich and had a coconutty flavour to it. (Not sure why?) As I had never had panna cotta before, I wasn't sure what to expect re: the taste or texture but heck, who cares, as long as it tastes good right? ;)

I suspect it had to do with the fact that I used double cream for the panna cotta. Certainly, the richness of this dessert has a lot to do with the type of cream (thin or double cream) you use to make this dessert.

I saved one for Kathy (my boss) and Jules, both who are very well versed in cooking and baking and they said it was delicious. Kathy reassured me that it's the right texture and confirmed that it was the double cream that was the reason behind the richness.

As for Jules, she just wanted more!

Oh and the strawberries, they were bellissimo! =)


Lime and Kaffir Lime leaves

Previously:
- My little Italian adventure - Part 1: That salad
- My little Italian adventure - Part 2: The recipe, the ingredients and the woman

Monday, October 08, 2007

Accidental semi freddo

Double chocolate mousse

I think that old age is finally catching up with me. LOL!

Ok, so I'm not that old. But, seriously, if I didn't know any better, I'd think that:
  1. I am going senile

  2. I am suffering from brain farts

  3. I am just having a bad day

  4. ALL OF THE ABOVE
especially after what happened to me last weekend. I must have offended the gods or something because for some reason or another, everything that could go wrong, went wrong on the weekend when I made this.

It started out fairly innocently, I wanted to make a 3 layer chocolate mousse 'cake' for dessert, but I couldn't find any fair trade white chocolate. So, I scratched the white chocolate layer and decided that I could make a raspberry jelly layer instead - like the strawberry mirror cake that Peabody had selected as the Daring Baker's challenge for July.

I had the image of Max Brenner's tear drop (triple layered mousse cake) in my mind when I decided on making this. To do that, I knew that I would need some rather special moulds. But when I went searching for these cake rings that I remember buying sometime ago, they were no where to be found. So in desperation, I had resorted to layering them in a loaf pan.

All went well until I got this "superb" idea to fast track the chilling process for the mousse by sticking them in the freezer for a little while. I somehow convinced myself that it would only take about half an hour. "It's only half and hour, it'll be fine and I'll just set up the timer on the microwave and I'll take it out after 1/2hr and it'll be a piece of cake to get it out of the cake tin." half an hour later.....
.
.
.

Now, would you like to take a stab at what happened after this "half an hour"?? I let you in on a little secret....

N.O.T.H.I.N.G

Suffice to say, I had FORGOTTEN about the mousse. The timer on the microwave was set, but it was never 'started'. Somewhere between the mousse going into the freezer and me brain floating in my "I'm a genious state", I had forgot to press the start button(!). So I happily went away pottering around the house doing bits and pieces here and there.

It wasn't until later that night when I was feeling peckish that it occured to me.. - "Oh Shit! My Mousse!" It was rock hard when I took it out from the freezer. :(

I could've cried. But I didn't. I stuck it back into the freezer and went straight to bed. Woke up the next day with an even better idea. The mousse that was not meant to be can now be a semi-freddo!

So I present to you, my Double Chocolate mousse that was not meant to be Semi freddo with Raspberry jelly. (I love Bill for this inspiration that gave me the idea to turn this into a semi freddo)

Double chocolate mousse

Kids, please don't try this at home.

To assemble this, you'll need:

2 x of your favourite mousse recipe (Milk & Dark Chocolate - I used Green & Blacks)
1 x strawberry jelly layer (you can use this recipe)
strawberry/raspberries
dessert glasses or bowls (trust me it will work better this way)
Melted dark chocolate for drizzling.


What is fair trade produce/chocolate?


Fair trade products refers to products made as a result of economical, ethical and environmental practices; meaning the key ingredients was not sold/purchased at a ridiculously low price, it was not produced using unfair labour practices such as using child labour and low wages were paid to those who harvested the raw ingredients and environmentally healthy farming methods were used in the growing of the crops.

Fair trade chocolates are chocolates produced by the above means.

Fair trade chocolates are not easily available in Australia. Brands like Dagoba, Cocolo, Alter Eco and Green & Blacks are generally only available in special ingredients stores, some delis and organic supermarkets. Though, there has been progress in the stocking fair trade chocolates in retail supermarkets. Some of the local Coles and Safeway/Woolworths stores now stock Green & Blacks in their confectionery aisles.

Links:

Rachel of Rkhooks.net is hosting a "Stop The Traffik" chocolate competition inviting bloggers to start becoming more aware of fair trade certified chocolates and submit a choctastic post with the key ingredients being fair trade chocolates.

I have to confess that I never knew that my favourite chocolates could/would/may have been made with produce that is not Fair Trade certified. It pains me to think that whilst I'm happily chomping down my favourite chocolate truffles, some kid out there is being worked to death in some horrible conditions just so I could keep having my favourite chocolates.

One good thing that has come out of knowing this is that I'm glad that I almost only exclusively buy Green & Blacks Organics chocolates. Especially since they started stocking them at my local retail supermarkets. Fair trade chocolates are hard to come by in Australia. I've decided that I will do my bit and buy fair trade certified chocolates whenever possible but if I can't find it, I may have to resort to other means of supplementing my chocolate fix. (*hides behind a rock*)

Support Stop The Traffik campaign and swing by Rachel's blog to see what it's all about.

G&B chocolates