I’ve been watching more of my DVDs from The Great Courses and the Culinary Institute of America. I have particularly enjoyed “The Everyday Gourmet: Baking Pastries and Desserts.” The presenter is Chef Stephen L. Durfee who is an instructor at the Greystone campus of the CIA. He certainly has earned his chops – he is a James Beard Foundation winner and has been the pastry chef at The French Laundry, among many other accomplishments and awards. His lessons have been very instructive, and his style has been friendly and conversational.
The lessons have come in handy. Susan has had a minor procedure needing a soft diet for a few days. That seemed like a perfect time for me to try out Chef Durfee’s recipe for panna cotta. What could be easier than panna cotta? On top of that it’s very tasty. Another nice thing about the recipe is that it invites variations. Buttermilk gives an interesting flavor, but the usual fruit toppings were out. What could be easier than chocolate ganache?
Blooming gelatin wrinkles the surface
Bittersweet baking chocolate to be chopped
Panna cotta ladled into the serving dishes and ready to be chilled
Orange liqueur (my favorite, Patrön Citrónge)
Buttermilk panna cotta with chocolate ganache topping
Buttermilk Panna Cotta
- 2¼ cups buttermilk
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Place 1 cup of the buttermilk in a wide-rimmed bowl, reserving the rest
- Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the surface of the buttermilk and let rest for 5 minutes to bloom the gelatin. The surface should wrinkle up as the gelatin blooms. You can ensure an even process by exposing more of the buttermilk by breaking the surface with a whisk.
- In a medium sauce pan, dissolve the sugar in the cream and bring to the boil.
- Pour the boiling cream into the bloomed gelatin mixture and stir to completely dissolve the gelatin.
- Add the vanilla extract and reserved buttermilk to cool the mixture.
- Strain the mixture through a fine-meshed sieve. This step is very important to remove any clumps of undissolved gelatin and buttermilk..
- Pour the strained, cooled mixture into 6 serving dishes or ramekins. The mixture should be cooled before pouring it into the dishes or ramekins. Otherwise it might separate into layers.
- Refrigerate several hours or over night until the panna cotta is set.
- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 5 ounces heavy cream
- 1 ounce corn syrup
- 2 tablespoons orange liqueur (optional)
- Chop the chocolate into small pieces about the size of an M&M candy to make sure it will melt with the added hot cream before the cream cools off. . Transfer to a medium bowl.
- Combine the cream and corn syrup, stirring to make sure the syrup is completely dissolved. Bring to a rolling boil in a small saucepan..
- Pour the hot cream and corn syrup mixture into the chopped chocolate. Let sit undisturbed for a moment or two to let the chocolate begin to melt.
- With a spatula, stir the chocolate from the center outward until the cream has been completely and evenly incorporated.
- If desired, add the orange liqueur and stir until completely incorporated.
- Cool for 10 minutes or so until just warm to the touch.
- Ladle one or two tablespoons onto each of the tops of the chilled panna cottas. Return to the refrigerator and chill for 1 hour. This will form a firm chocolate layer. If you want something softer, use more cream when you make the ganache.
Lately I have been watching some DVDs I purchased from The Great Courses. If you are not familiar with that company, they offer video recordings, and sometimes accompanying books, prepared from the lectures of outstanding instructors. You can study art appreciation, Egyptian history, architecture, and just about any other topic you can think of. They have a series on cooking as well as on wine appreciation, so I bought both.
One of the instructors in the cooking series is Bill Briwa who is a Chef-Instructor at the Greystone, California campus of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). Briwa has a very personal and comfortable teaching style, and on top of that he offers a lot of good information and easy-to-follow demonstrations.
The DVD set that I am currently watching is called The Everyday Gourmet: The Joy of Mediterranean Cooking. As the title suggests, there are recipes and demonstrations from Spain, Provence, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and North Africa.
My blogging friend, Happiness Stan Lives, recently received a tagine (His had eyes), and so he demonstrated how to make a Moroccan tagine. I was surprised to learn from Bill Briwa that a “dry” tagine is made in Tunisia without the peaked hat cooking device.
Since I don’t have a Moroccan tagine (That is a hint to my family.) I thought I would give the Tunisian version a try.
Out of the oven ready to serve
Served with a small salad
Tunisian Tagine Ricotta
- ¾ pound ground lamb
- seeds from 4 cardamom pods
- 4 whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- ¼ cup olive oil + more to oil the baking dish
- ½ medium yellow onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 3 tablespoons ground cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
- 6 eggs, beaten
- ½ cup Monterrey jack cheese, grated
- 2 hard boiled eggs, each cut into 6 wedges
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup parsley, chopped
- In a bowl, mix the ground lamb with the cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, and black peppercorns. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, combine the beaten eggs and grated cheese. Set aside until ready for assembly.
- Heat the oil in a skillet over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Then add the ground lamb mixture, stirring until the lamb is well browned. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool.
- Using a pastry brush, coat the inside of a shallow baking dish with olive oil. Then pour in 1/3 of the egg-cheese mixture, tilting the dish to completely cover the bottom.
- Spread ½ of the lamb mixture over the egg-cheese mixture. Spread ½ of the ricotta over the lamb. Press 6 hard boiled egg wedges into the ricotta, distributing them evenly.
- Cover with 1/3 of the egg-cheese mixture, spreading it as evenly as possible. Top with the remaining lamb and ricotta, pressing the remaining 6 hard-boiled egg wedges into the ricotta between the other wedges.
- Pour the remaining 1/3 of the egg-cheese mixture over the top, spreading it so that it completely covers the other layers.
- Bake in the middle of an oven preheated to 375°F for 40 minutes or until the eggs are completely cooked and the top is beautifully browned.
- Remove from the oven. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve while still warm. Serves 4.