Tuesday, 31 July 2007
My nonna makes some great Italian desserts, recipes from the Veneto/Friuli-Venezia-Giulia regions such as Italian apple strudel (with cheeky ribbons of chocolate, whole pine nuts and plump grappa-soaked sultanas), crostoli and fritole. But she doesn't make my favourite Italian dessert, panna cotta.
Luckily, my mother does. The best thing about panna cotta is that while it looks impressive, it's insanely simple to make and can be done a day in advance of a dinner party. Plus, different accompaniments make it a different dish each time. Even I - it shames me to say that despite my love for delicious food I'm still pretty hopeless in the kitchen - can make an impressive panna cotta. Mum and I find the Donna Hay recipe to work best, and of course you have to use proper flecks of vanilla from a vanilla bean - no essence!
This is the panna cotta my mum made a few weeks ago. To serve, she first made a thick syrup boiled together with julienned bits of candied orange rind. Then, having removed all trace of pith from the peeled oranges cut into thin segments, she made a second, lighter syrup for the orange segments using a bit of the thick syrup, orange juice, Cointreau, a dash of water and a dash of rosewater. Optional gingersnap on the side!