One thing I have learned during the stove outage is that it is very difficult to make dessert without a stove and oven. Not impossible, of course, but difficult. You need to bake cakes and most pie crusts. Fillings sometimes need to be cooked on the stove. Even the custard for ice cream needs to be cooked. Since the breakdown, I have made a cheese plate with grapes and sliced pears. The grandchildren thought that was too fancy and not sweet. I have served ice cream from the store, but that doesn’t count. This week was my turn for dessert for Sunday family dinner. I looked through several recipe books but had difficulty in finding a cooking-free recipe that sounded delicious. This comes from Marion Cunningham’s The Fannie Farmer Baking Book (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1984). I have freed the original recipe from the oven by using a packaged graham cracker crust from the grocery shelf. I have also added gelatin so that the filling holds its shape. Key tips that don’t appear in the recipe and that you should follow include making certain that you beat the egg whites so they form stiff peaks. Any less and the filling will collapse. If you need it, a pinch of cream of tartar might help. The cream should also be beaten so that it holds peaks. Chilling overnight is highly recommended.
Mile-High Strawberry Pie
- 5 egg whites
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)
- ¾ cup sugar
- 10 ounce package frozen strawberries, thawed
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 9-inch prepared graham cracker crust
- 1 quart fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced in half
- In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until they form soft peaks. Add the cream of tartar if you are using it. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until they hold stiff peaks.
- Set aside ½ cup of juice from the frozen strawberries before beating the berries and remaining juice into the egg whites. Continue beating until the mixture becomes fluffy and stands in soft peaks.
- Place ¼ cup of the reserved juice in a small bowl, sprinkle with the gelatin and let stand for 5 minutes until the gelatin has bloomed. Meanwhile, heat the remaining ¼ cup juice in the microwave, about 15 seconds on high. Stir the hot juice into the gelatin mixture, stirring until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Beat into the egg white mixture.
- Whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks. Fold into the egg white mixture.
- Pile the mixture into the prepared crust. Chill overnight in the refrigerator. Arrange fresh strawberries over the top and serve.
This is one of the most traditional of all Creole dishes not only in New Orleans but also in much of southern Louisiana. According to Emeril Lagasse, the recipe first made its way to Louisiana when royalists escaped the French Revolution and settled in the town of St. Martinsville, called “petit Paris” and located just a few miles south of Lafayette. I have been unable to confirm or refute this claim.
Daube glacée has become less and less popular and is no longer common on restaurant menus. Perhaps part of the reason is that it is really a party dish, served with toast points or other bread. It can also be sliced to make an excellent sandwich. Most recipes make a LOT – often enough to serve 50 people.
River Road Recipes, published by the Junior League of Baton Rouge, bills itself as “The Textbook of Louisiana Cuisine”, and indeed it has been the most authoritative source book for Louisiana home cooks for over 55 years. The recipe there calls for 10 pounds of boneless chuck roast and advises that you mold it in “a vegetable crisper or other large enamel pan.” Emeril Lagasse’s recipe in Louisiana Real & Rustic calls for 3 pounds of beef round and 3 pounds of veal rump roast along with some bacon. Roy F. Guste, Jr., of the family that has owned Antoine’s Restaurant for generations, includes pig’s feet in his version in The 100 Greatest Dishes of Louisiana Cookery.
I think there is little doubt why the dish has fallen into obscurity, and all the recipes I found were way beyond what I was looking for. All I really wanted to do was to use up the meat and broth from my effort with bouilli. As you will see, this is a very simplified version of daube glacée. Remember, when it is chilled it will need more salt than when it is warm. Plan to decorate it with vegetables, fresh or cooked, in the gelatin and mayonnaise on top, if you wish. Serve with crackers or crostini. If you use it for sandwiches, season it with horseradish and whole-grain mustard. Delicious!
- ½ pound boiled beef, chilled
- 2 cups strained, chilled beef stock reserved from preparation of bouilli (see previous post)
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
- ½ cup port
- juice of ½ lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cut the chilled beef into bite-sized cubes. Set aside.
- n a small bowl, transfer ½ cup of the chilled beef stock and sprinkle the powdered gelatin. Allow to “bloom” for about 5 minutes.
- In the meantime, heat the remaining beef stock to boiling in a saucepan. Turn off the heat.
- Stir the fully bloomed gelatin mixture into the hot beef stock and stir continuously until the gelatin is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the port and correct seasonings with salt and pepper. Stir in the cubed beef.
- Pour into a lightly oiled 1-quart mold. Cool to room temperature. Then cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator overnight.
- Unmold by running a thin-bladed knife around the edge, dipping the mold into hot water for no more than 30 seconds and then covering with your serving plate and inverting to release the daube.
- Arrange garnish and small toasts around the daube and serve immediately with a knife or spoon for guests to serve themselves, or cut into slices and use for sandwiches.
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.
In a previous post, September 10, 2013, I wrote about Sarah’s panna cotta recipe and added some images of her making it and a berry topping down in the basement prep area of Rich Table. That version uses fresh buttermilk from the restaurant that is a byproduct of their house-churned cultured butter.
This is a slightly different version of the panna cotta using commercial buttermilk and ginger as the principal flavoring. I used it as the centerpiece of the dessert for our recent pot luck birthday party: ginger-scented panna cotta with cajeta and sea-salt-sprinkled chocolate sables.
It is very easy to make. The only special step is to strain the panna cotta into the ramekins to remove any bits of ginger root and undissolved gelatin.
Ginger-Scented Buttermilk Panna Cotta
- 1¼ cups heavy cream
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 6-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 packet unflavored gelatin
- ¼ cup water
- 1½ cups buttermilk
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add the ginger root pieces and simmer for 15 minutes
- Meanwhile, sprinkle the gelatin over the surface of the water in a small bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
- Stir the softened gelatin into the simmering cream mixture and stir vigorously until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
- Add the buttermilk and simmer gently for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Remove from the heat, cool for a minute or two, and then strain into six 6-ounce ramekins
- Cool to room temperature and then cover each ramekin with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
A good-sized piece of ginger root
Pieces of ginger root simmering in the cream and sugar mixture
The finished dessert: ginger-scented panna cotta topped with cajeta and served with a sea-salt-sprinkled chocolate sablé
Even though Sarah is trained as a savory cook, by default she has also been doing baked goods and desserts at Rich Table. She doesn’t think of herself as a pastry chef, but her success proves otherwise. Desserts have been among some of the most popular items at Rich Table since it opened over a year ago. There is always pressure to keep some of the old favorites on the menu, but there is also pressure to introduce new items on a fairly constant basis.
Two recent additions are:
Blue corn cake with honey-griddled plums, and vanilla ice cream. This dessert is a riff on Sarah’s favorite cornbread recipe, but made with blue corn meal. I suspect that comes from her interest in New Mexico traditions. She also has a good source for blue cornmeal from Tierra Vegetables in the farmers market at the San Francisco Ferry Building.
Blue corn cake with honey-grilled plums and vanilla ice cream
Bittersweet chocolate ganache with almond butter crunch and passion fruit meringue.
Bittersweet chocolate ganache with almond butter crunch and passion fruit meringue
Panna cotta is one of the old favorites, but Sarah has come up with lots of variations that have kept it popular and fresh. Some of those variations include buttermilk, coconut, and more recently cream cheese. Panna cotta is a cousin of flan, crema catalana, and crème brûlée. Those custards are made with eggs which are cooked gently to provide thickening. Panna cotta has gelatin added for the thickening agent. In commercial kitchens, leaf or sheet gelatin is the form most commonly used, but that form is not often available in grocery stores and is a little trickier to use. That’s ok, because a perfectly good panna cotta can be made with the granulated form, although you may need to experiment and cut back on the amount of the gelatin if the finished panna cotta too firm for your taste.
Sarah’s current cream cheese panna cotta is delicious, but if you want to try it at home you will need to tinker with the amount of gelatin you use. The firm texture of the cream cheese sets up too hard with the usual amounts of gelatin.
I think her buttermilk panna cotta is every bit as good. Sarah makes it with fresh cultured buttermilk that the restaurant gets when it house-churns its own butter. That’s not practical at home, but fresh commercial buttermilk will work. That’s my version below.
Straining berry mixture for the sauce base
Containers of berry sauce lines up to go into the cold room
Blackberries and raspberries
Sauce with mixed berries
Chunks of cream cheese before blending
Blending panna cotta mixture
Mixing cream cheese with immersion blender
Sheet gelatin set to soak
Gelatin bloomed and ready to be added to the panna cotta mixture
Heated cream ready to receive the gelatin
Individual panna cottas ready to be chilled
¼ cup water
- 1 packet unflavored gelatin
- 1½ cups heavy cream
- 1½ cups buttermilk
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons orange blossom water
- 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur (optional)
- Place the water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Let stand for 5 minutes or until the gelatin softens. Do not let it stand too long or it will turn into a solid blob that is hard to dissolve.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, buttermilk, and sugar. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Using a whisk or immersion blender, stir in the softened gelatin. Stir for at least a minute. Make sure that the gelatin is completely dissolved. Otherwise it will sink to the bottom and form a separate gelled layer.
- Stir in the orange blossom water and optional Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur.
- Pour into 6 6-ounce cups. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight.
- Serve with fresh berries or your choice of toppings.