hierarchically I am fortunate to have many friends who are also amazingly talented cooks. Today – I’m thrilled to have the founder and head chef of Pressure Cooking Today and Barbara Bakes – the lovely and talented Barbara Schieving – share one of her favorite stories and recipes. I am sharing my own blog post on her Pressure Cooking Today website – my previously posted Lamb Shanks. This time I’ve adjusted it for the pressure cooker!
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Thanks Marilyn for inviting me to guest post. Marilyn and I have a lot in common. We both love pressure cooking, sharing our adventures in the kitchen, and traveling. When Marilyn asked me to guest post I decide to pick a food I fell in love with while traveling. The first thing that came to mind was panna cotta.
We were staying in Monterroso, in Cinque Terre, Italy; five charming villages set on the cliffs overlooking the sea. We set off early one morning on the train to visit the five towns. We did the hikes between Riomaggiore, Manarola, and Corniglia. We would have hiked further, but it was a bit rainy and muddy, so we took the train to Vernazza.
There is a little restaurant named Il Pirata Café in Vernazza that was recommended to us, so we stopped in for lunch. The café is run by twin brothers. Lucca was our waiter, and he was very charming, yet a little silly.
After a wonderful lunch, Lucca asked us if we wanted dessert. I told him we were too full for dessert, but he insisted that we should have dessert. So I said okay, I’ll have the orange cannoli. He said no. You do not want the orange cannoli, you want the strawberry slushy with cream. So I smiled and said okay, I’ll have the strawberry slushy with cream. He was right! The strawberry slushy with cream was amazingly delicious!
Later that night after finishing up dinner, nothing on the menu looked good for dessert and my husband suggested we go back to Vernazza for a strawberry slushy. Since there was a train leaving in ten minutes, we rushed to the train station and hopped on the train. I said to my husband we should ask the nice Italian man standing near us if the train was going to Vernazza. The man said “No Vernazza”, “No Vernazza”. We hopped off the train, the doors closed, and it sped off in the other directions.
Luckily, the train we wanted was one rail over and we hopped on, got off in Vernazza and walked up the hill to the Pirata Café. Lucca was outside and we told him we came back for a strawberry slushy. Lucca said no. No strawberry slushy at night!
My husband and I just looked at each other smiled, and said well how about the orange cannoli then. Lucca said no. You do not want the orange cannoli, you want the strawberry panna cotta. So of course we had the strawberry panna cotta. It was our first time eating panna cotta and it was heavenly! Smooth, rich and creamy, and paired with a sweet strawberry sauce.
I’ve tried several panna cotta recipes since then, and this panna cotta is the closest I’ve come to replicating the amazing panna cotta I had that night in Italy. It’s a sensual dessert that would be perfect to share with your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day.
Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon (one packet) unflavored powdered gelatin
- 3 cups whipping cream
- 1/3 cup agave or mild honey
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract*
- Pinch of salt
Pour the milk into a cold saucepan and sprinkle gelatin evenly over the milk. Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
After gelatin is soften, heat the mixture over medium heat until it is hot, but not boiling, about five minutes, whisking occasionally.
Add the cream, agave (or honey), sugar, vanilla and pinch of salt. Heat, stir occasionally, until the sugar and honey have dissolved 5-7 minutes. Don’t bring the mixture to a boil.
Remove from heat, allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. Then pour into the glasses or ramekin. (I used heart shaped silicone molds for Valentine’s Day.)
Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Serve with Strawberry Coulis (recipe below).
*You can also use a vanilla bean if you prefer
- 3 cups strawberries, diced*
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon orange zest
- 2 tablespoons water
In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling and the sugar has been dissolved, turn off the heat.
Purée until smooth with an immersion blender or transfer the mixture to a blender and purée until smooth. Strain through a mesh strainer to remove the seeds.
Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze to use at a later date.
*You can substitute frozen strawberries. Thaw after measuring, omit water.