Friday, September 21, 2012

Lemongrass panna cotta with plum compote

I was invited to lovely dinner party this week where Suzie made her family's tomato soup, which incidentally was the most delicious thing ever.  I was asked to bring dessert, and decided I wanted to make lemongrass panna cotta, because I had lemongrass leftover from my FuBonn run.   I also had a bunch of plums from my produce box that needed to be used before they went bad and before the big move (to my sister's house).  Which is how I ended up with this apparently random flavor pairing, but which I thought sounded lovely.  It was Megan's idea to add ginger snaps (which I bought) to pull it all together, which was genius.

I adapted from a number of recipes, but there were a couple that were the most helpful.  This Kaffir-Lemongrass Panna Cotta recipe from Tasting Menu was the most helpful for technique.  I wasn't able to find sheet gelatin though, so I polled a bunch of other recipes to determine how much powdered gelatin to use.  And the plum compote was roughly inspired by the Rosewater Plum Compote recipe from 101 Cookbooks, although I reduced the sugar because I wanted it to be a little tart.

Lemongrass Panna Cotta with Plum Compote and Ginger Snaps
Serves 8

Panna Cotta:
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
zest of one lemon and one lime
2 stalks lemongrass, bruised and sliced thinly
3 cups cream, 1/2 cup held very cold
1 Tbsp. powdered gelatin (one envelope)

1 1/2 pounds plums
zest and juice of one lemon
1 tsp. powdered ginger
1/4 cup sugar

Put 1/2 cup of cream in the bowl you intend to whip it in, and place it in the fridge along with the whisk you intend to use.  Gather eight 6-oz ramekins or serving dishes.

Put the milk, sugar, lemon and lime zest, and lemongrass in a small sauce pan and heat over medium-low heat until just below boiling, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Remove from heat and steep for half an hour.

Strain the milk through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the solids, and return to sauce pan to rewarm the milk over medium-low heat.  Add the gelatin to the warm milk, and stir until completely dissolved.  Transfer milk to a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature for about an hour.

Meanwhile, make the compote.  Pit and chop the plums into roughly 1/2 inch pieces, and put in a wide, heavy-bottomed pot along with the sugar, lemon zest and juice, and powdered ginger.  Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat.  You want it to cook at a lazy boil for 20-25 minutes, so adjust heat as necessary.  Stir every so often and scrape the bottom to make sure the fruit doesn't burn.  The compote is ready once it has kind of all slumped together, but before the fruit is totally broken down.  Remove from the heat, spoon into jars, and store in the fridge until ready to use.  It will keep for about a week in the fridge.

When the milk/gelatin mixture is cool, begin whipping the 1/2 cup of cold cream.  Whip the cream gently, avoiding beating too much air into the cream.  You just want the cream to thicken until it kind of holds together, but before it will hold peaks.

Add the 2 1/2 cups of unwhipped cream to the milk/gelatin mixture with a whisk.  Add the thickened cream and fold in with a spatula until evenly combined.

Pour or spoon the panna cotta into the ramekins or serving dishes, and chill in the fridge overnight.

To serve, run a knife around the edge of the ramekin, invert a dessert plate on top of the ramekin, and then flip the whole thing over so the ramekin is upside down.  The panna cotta should slide out, but if it sticks, gently lift one side of the ramekin and use a knife to loosen the edge of the panna cotta from the ramekin or release the vacuum.  Spoon a couple of tablespoons of plum compote over the panna cotta and add ginger snaps.

Picture via Margaret's Instagram.

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