Saturday, September 20, 2008

Lime Panacotta For A Weekend Away

I love having weekends away with friends and family: the anticipation and the planning and then lots of lovely unstructured time together. And as much as I love cooking, the last place I want to be is in the kitchen when I could be hanging out with my favourite people. The solution is to do as much of the cooking ahead of time, so we all get to laze around while we are together. It also means that I get to design the menu solo, something I really love to do. So much fun is in the anticipation!

This lime panacotta struck me as a great choice for a spring evening away with friends. From Gordon Ramsey Makes It Easy, it requires few ingredients, is easy to make ahead of time, transports well, and tastes good too. Gordon Ramsey seems to be the man of the moment as far as cooking goes in Australia at the moment, with even K-mart stocking his recipe books by the dozens. He also turns up on TV nearly every night shouting at some poor kitchen ingenue. And while I don't like the aggression of his TV persona, there is no doubt that this chef knows his way around food, and his recipe books are well-written and easy to follow. I wish that I could say this about all recipe books - after all there is no point in the chef knowing what he is doing if the recipe is incomprehensible to the rest of us!

This recipe has a lovely flavour, although next time I make it, I think I will bruise the mint leaves first to extract a bit more flavour from them. I also left out the tequila (didn't have any and forgot to buy it). Also, the pannacotta is quite firm - next time I will reduce the amount of gelatine a little as I prefer something with a bit more wobble.

Lime Panacotta Infused With Mint
adapted from "Gordon Ramsey Makes It easy" by Gordon Ramsey
Serves 6
600ml double cream
150ml milk
8 mint leaves
4 sheets leaf gelatine
60g caster sugar
finely grated zest of 3 limes
1 1/2 tbsp tequila
lime segments to decorate

Pour the cream and milk into a saucepan. Add the mint, then bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes or until reduced by about 1/3. Soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water for 5 mins to soften. Strain the cream mixture into a bowl and stir in the sugar, lime zest and tequila. Drain the gelatine and squeeze out any excess water, then stir into the hot cream mixture until it is completely dissolved. Pour the mixture into six dariole moulds and allow to cool before putting them in the fridge to set completely (2-3 hours). To remove the panacotta from the moulds, run a palette knife around the edge, then gently ease out each pannacotta. Decorate with lime and serve.

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