As I type this, stars are blazing overhead in a thick dark sky, unlike any stars I see in the city, and I hear absolutely nothing drifting in through the open windows. I whizzed up to Vermont for a quick weekend away and I’m grateful for the silence after what’s been a very busy few weeks.
We are in the final stages of so much at Eat Boutique headquarters. We’re just days away from launching our summer gift box of goodies inspired by picnics. We’re planning our first ever Local Market of handmade food purveyors which will take place this Fall. And, we’re designing our Paris Mini-Guide into a pretty file that you can print and take with you. Just typing it makes me excited and… so very tired.
But I’m taking it all in stride because, frankly, we’re lucky that we get to do some of the stuff we do. I know I’m personally very lucky to have so many special contributors on the Eat Boutique team, individuals who took lots of time out to make, write about and photograph their favorite birthday cakes, sometimes twice!
One contributor in particular visited on Saturday, with family in tow. So before I sped off to Vermont, I had to prepare an “I am so very grateful to have you in my life” lunch for her, her husband and her two-year old. It was a quick meal of roast chicken, pork-fat roasted red potatoes, fresh salad greens with a preserved lemon vinaigrette and this dessert.
When life is busy, keep this recipe for Yogurt Panna Cotta in your back pocket. I make it all the time. It consistently impresses everyone – whether it be a family friend, a seasoned chef or a strawberry-loving two-year-old – and takes less than 10 minutes of light labor (and eight hours in the fridge to set).
I top it with whatever I have on hand – fresh fruit laced with sugar and lemon juice or maybe a bit of booze, a previously canned jar of fruit preserves like my rhubarb jam or, in this case, a quick jam of some perfect local strawberries. With 10 minutes of light labor and 30 minutes on the stove, this strawberry jam was set in the fridge alongside the setting desserts and, voilÃ , dessert became an easy assembly job.
Yogurt Panna Cotta
Adapted from a recipe in Bon Appétit, July 2010
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- 2 1/4 cups plain whole-milk Greek yogurt (preferably organic)
- 1 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
Combine 2 tablespoons water and lemon juice in small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over; stir to blend. Let stand until gelatin softens, about 10 minutes. Whisk yogurt and 3/4 cup cream in large bowl. Combine 1 cup cream, sugar and vanilla seeds in small saucepan; bring to simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Add gelatin mixture to hot cream mixture; whisk until gelatin dissolves. Add cream-gelatin mixture to yogurt mixture; whisk to blend. Pour mixture into 5-6 pretty glasses. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover each glass with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated until panna cotta is set, at least 8 hours or overnight. This can be made 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.
Quick Strawberry Jam
Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie at Home recipe, 2008
For the strawberry jam:
- 1.5 quarts of strawberries, rinsed with greens removed
- 1 cup of sugar
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 1/2 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
Place the strawberries in a large bowl with the sugar. With your clean hands, crush the strawberries into the sugar until you have only a few slightly large chunks and a nicely developed liquid in the bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes. Place strawberry and sugar mixture into heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat. Add lemon, vanilla seeds and vanilla pod. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low and let cook for 30 minutes. Scrape the foam off as it comes to the surface (or don’t, if you can’t be bothered). When the 30 minutes are up, you should have a dark, reduced but still loose jam. Let cool before placing in a glass jar and storing the fridge for a couple weeks, if it lasts that long!
To serve the dessert, remove plastic wrap from each panna cotta and give one to each guest. Place the strawberry jam in the center of the table and let each guest dollop one or two tablespoons on their dessert, as desired.