Sunday, September 28, 2008
Right after I left the orthodontist, I knew I needed a pick-me-upper, so I hopped into my car and without even going back home I headed to the grocery store. A few people were surprised that I wouldn't rather lay down but what I knew that the dull pain I felt would become almost unbearable in a few hours, making any such leisure impossible. I used the sorry state I was in to my advantage, making it an excuse for an impulsive trip to Costco to buy the vanilla beans I had eyed for weeks. But when you think about it it wasn't so irresponsible an action, 10 vanilla beans for $11 versus the 2 vanilla beans $13 can buy at a supermarket? It was a smart impulse. Then I headed to Ranch 99 to buy some adorable tea cups that I had seen the day before but had guilted myself out of getting. For $1 I bought two porcelain teacups and spoons, again, a not so destructive impulse.
While sitting in silently endured pain at the orthodontist I had made the decision that I would allow myself a small luxury to reward myself for being such a patient and quiet victim, I would finally make that green tea and vanilla panna cotta that I had seen on Nordljus and had been drooling over all week. I did however restrain myself to some extent by halving the recipe to only make enough to fill the two teacups that I had just purchased.
My sister was surprised to come home from school to see me up and about in the kitchen instead of moping in bed like everyone had assumed I would be. But her nagging concern was short lived when I presented to her my second panna cotta to eat for herself and we sat down together at the table to taste my attempts. The combination of the dark chocolate sauce and the green tea was truly wonderful. My biggest excitement was the flecks of vanilla seeds that permeated through the cream, because I always felt that real vanilla seeds made such a difference and could never approve of a restaurant that didn't utilize them in their creme brulee or panna cotta. Now I finally had pods of my own, and a lot of them, so I can finally try the many recipes that I've had to put on hold because of my stubborn prudence in not buying the overpriced vanilla pods for myself. The panna cotta was worth all the teasing from my sister as she watched me carefully maneuver the spoon into my sore, metal-filled mouth and I'm glad I made it because now, several hours later, I can tell by the pain that I won't be able to eat anything interesting for awhile.
Green Tea and Vanilla Panna Cotta with Chocolate Sauce
1 vanilla pod, split and seeds removed
3 green tea bags or 2 heaped tablespoons of green tea
350ml double cream
1 1/4 leaves of gelatine, soaked in water
70g icing sugar
30g caster sugar
1 level tablespoon cocoa powder
100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
Put the milk, vanilla pod and seeds, tea bags or tea and half the cream in a small pan and slowly simmer for about 10 minutes until reduced by a third. Remove from the heat and extract the tea bags (put the mixture through a sieve if you’ve used loose tea or you tea bags have burst). Squeeze out the gelatine, discarding the soaking water, then stir the gelatine into the tea mixture and leave to dissolve. Allow to cool a little, then place in the fridge, stirring occasionally until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove the vanilla pod.
Whip together the icing sugar and the remaining cream. Mix the two cream mixtures together. Divide into four metal moulds (small glasses or cappuccino cups also work well). Cover and chill for at least an hour.
Meanwhile, place the caster sugar, the water and the cocoa in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Take off the heat and stir in the broken chocolate. Stir until dissolved and warm briefly before serving.
To serve, sometimes I dip the mould or cup into some simmering water to loosen the panna cotta, then turn it out on to a plate and spoon the chocolate around it, or – especially if you feel the mixture is a bit wet – you can simply serve the dessert in its cup with chocolate sauce poured over the top.