In case you don't know, I have a love affair with dessert. So my recent introduction to a new one called Panna Cotta is just making me giddy bringing back memories of when I was 7 or 8. My taste buds had not yet bloomed and my mother, in her infinite quest to expand our palate, made a homemade cheesecake that marred me for years. I hated it so much I actually felt sick whenever I smelled or thought of that thing. As a result you could not get me near a cheesecake.
Years later as I walked out of my college gym, I ran into a sorority cake sale and immediately zeroed in on a big fat cheesecake that looked pretty much like the one my mom made. To my surprise that cake looked mighty good and since my taste buds were still awakening, thoughts of hating anything edible did not sit well with me ... Of course I had a slice.
How do you describe love at first bite? I stood there and ate that piece of cake till every single crumb disappeared and was probably glowing from pure delight. It got to the point that all I did was dream, eat and think cheesecake. This obsession led me to purchase The Joy of Cheesecake by Dana Bovbjerg & Jeremy Iggers and I tried most of the recipes before finally overdosing on them. And now that my taste buds have reached their peak I found a new obsession, Panna Cotta, a delicate and tasty treat from heaven that I had to recreate after eating one at a friend's.
These days I find myself suffering from a major case of cabin fever due to a foot operation that has left me practically home bound. So when Truffle suggested we meet Curly, Calamari, and, Shukezi for coffee, okay ... wine, I was so happy to be out of the house that in my excitement I told everyone I would invited them over to test out my version of Panna Cotta.
Creating a new recipe always excites me, and when my head sets onto something unfamiliar, I go all out doing as much research as possible before starting. Some may call it overkill but I say it is getting to know my subject and getting a feel for it. After scouring through tons of blogs and videos I finally came up with two creations I thought might work.
For the first recipe I used cardamom and yogurt with an infusion of rose water. I really wanted to pare it with pistachios because of my favorite dessert from India called Rasmalia that uses similar ingredients, but I had no pistachios in the house and opted for the oranges in my fruit basket. The one I cut open happened to be a blood orange and I thought the rich color with its grapefruit like flavor would perfectly compliment the other ingredients. For a finishing touch I made an orange cardamom syrup that turned out heavenly.
To taste test my Cardamom Yogurt Panna Cotta, Curly and Calamari had Shukezi and I over for dinner and, of course, we were not disappointed. We were treated to some mouth watering stuffed pork cutlets smothered in a rich red sauce accompanied by a divine kombucha mash along with roasted vegetables followed by a fabulously dressed salad with greens from their garden.
The following day I had everyone over for the promised afternoon of Panna Cotta Fever. This was a perfect opportunity to also test my second concoction named Pina Cotta based on my old favorite drink, Pina Colada . Though I like using what's in the kitchen, I found myself out of heavy cream, a key ingredient for my new recipe. So, for the first time since my surgery, I ventured out on my own using my knee walker ... a story in itself.
In spite of the shopping trauma I enjoyed the adventure and got what I needed, including a pineapple, mango and kiwi to accompany the dessert. It took about 15 minutes to complete the Panna Cotta and another 20 minutes for the coconut caramel sauce spiced with a smidgen of rum.
The afternoon delight was a success! I was very happy with how the desserts turned out and happier to share them with good friends. I posted the recipes in the Food section under Panna Cotta Fever for you to also share with friends.