Slowly but surely, things around here are waking from their winter and/or pandemic hibernation. Too late and too slowly for most of us, but what can you do, eh? Well… here’s a little something to stoke the anticipatory fires related to all things Summer – one with pretty dresses/short sleeves, umbrella drinks and all the fixings! And the idea for this one actually emerged from the gloomy depths of the recent medical disaster we’d all rather be over and done with – kind of a case of “There can’t be light without darkness”? Ugh, look at me, getting all kitchen-philosophical over a simple desert…
See, just a couple of weeks back, a small, family-run Italian restaurant nearby tentatively opened their doors to dip their toes into the take-out waters and get re-aquainted with their customers after their six-month pandemic lockdown. Just as excited to be back as their customers, they started to experiment and test the field a little, adding a late-afternoon-style coffee and sweets section to their regular menu – and on top of the list was, you’ve probably guessed it, a classic, home-made Panna Cotta. As it turned out, I wasn’t the only one vividly remembering the delicious sweet treats coming out of that kitchen, and for two days in a row, the line in front of the restaurant was way too long for comfort, so I decided to go the fuss-free way and simply order a serving of it that following weekend – and whip up one of my own in the meantime. One with a light, summery and fun twist, that is. Roll up your sleeves! Summer is coming~!
Just a quick note before we begin – you’ll have bit of downtime on this one, 2 hours in between the layers and a second one of 2-3 hours (or even overnight) for the jelly to set on top. The good news: the preparation steps themselves basically take no time at all.
Depending on the size and shape of your preferred serving dish, these amounts will net you 4-8 portions.
The Lemongrass Panna Cotta
3 Leaves of Gelatine
3 Stalks of Lemongrass, white parts finely grated – freezing the stalks beforehand makes this a breeze~ Keep the green parts, you’ll need them too.
1 Lime, Juice and Zest
1 Lime cut into thin disks
1 Kaffir Lime Leaf
400ml Low Fat Coconut Milk, preferably 4-6% – for once, the Low Fat content isn’t just my personal preference – full fat milk would actually strangle the lemongrass, so stick to the lowest skimmed version you can find
2 Tbsp Coconutflower Sugar
3 Tbsp Batida de Coco Liqueur
1) Pour the coconut milk into a pot sitting on medium heat and add the remains of your lemongrass stalks after giving them a little bash with the hilt of your kitchen knife.
2) Stir in the sugar, grated lemongrass, lime zest, lime disks and lime leaf and bring the lot to a bubble.
3) Allow the liquids to go wild for 5 seconds, then lift the pot until its contents have settled down again, turn the heat to low and put the pot back on.
4) Leave the mixture to steep and infuse for 5 mins on a low simmer, then slide the pot off the heat, cover it with a kitchen towel and find something else to do for the next 25 mins.
5) Pop the gelatine leaves into a bowl filled with cold water and leave them to soak for about 5 mins.
6) Stir the coconut liqueur and lime juice into the contents of your pot.
7) Strain the coconut “tea” through a fine sieve to remove all the swimmers and place the pot back on the stove on low heat and gently warm the liquids up to just above skin temperature.
8) Squeeze the gelatine to remove any and all droplets of excess water, then grab a whisk and dissolve them in the coconut infusion.
9) Grab the dishes designated for the job and evenly distribute the proto Panna Cotta into them.
10) In case you fancy turning the Panna Cotta out on to plates later on, make sure to rinse your containers with ice cold water before filling them up to make them pop out easier in the end. Don’t towel them dry, just shake out excess water and immediately fill them up afterwards.
11) Place the Panna Cottas in your fridge to set for the next 2 hours.
12) You could brew the tea you need for stage 2 with a cup extra on top and lean back with said cup while the rest cools off~
The Passionfruit Green Tea Jelly
½ Lime, Juice
300ml Passionfruit Green Tea – ever needed a reason to snoop around in a tea shop near you? Prep it in advance and go with the Wine-Rule-of-Thumb: Pour one glass into the pot and one into the Chef~!
Alt: 300ml Regular Green Tea or Mild White Grape Guice
100ml Passionfruit Syrup
2 Tbsp Honey
3 Leaves Gelatine
Gimmicky Eye-Candy Opt: Chilled Mango Dice – if you drop them into the slowly setting jelly after about 30 mins, they’ll end up “floating”, glued into place throughout the jelly~
Mint or Lemon Balm Leaves, Toasted Coconut Shaves, Limes, Passionfruit and Mango bits to decorate… or anything tropical-fruit related that floats your boat~!
As usual, jellies are done within two shakes of a lamb’s tail, so let’s get the show on the road!
1) Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 mins.
2) Meanwhile, warm up the tea in a small pot sitting on low heat and stir in the syrup and honey.
3) Squeeze out the leaves once their time is up and whisk them into the tea.
4) Set the pot aside and allow the tea to cool down to room temperature.
5) Retrieve your serving dishes from their cold resting place in the fridge and pour equal amounts on top of your Panna Cotta and pop the lot back into the fridge for another 2 hours at least – if you plan on serving the treats tomorrow, make sure to cover the dishes with clingfilm or, in case of jam jars, their lids once the contents have cooled off and set completely.
6) Unleash your inner decoration demons just before serving, then grab a spoon and…