Tuesday, May 12, 2009

cooking up mom’s favourite mother’s day treat - recipe: panna cotta with balsamic strawberries

Although I’ve been a mother for just over a year, I can’t help but think that Mother’s Day is much more about my mother than about me.

Last year, by the time Mother’s Day rolled around I’d been a mother for a mere five days.

It definitely felt strange to be included in on the pampering. My brother, Adam, and my sister-in-law, Michelle, had us all over to their home to treat us to a delicious meal of “surf & turf”. They even spoiled me with a gift certificate for a pedicure!

What I remember most about that particular Mother’s Day was that we all spent the entire evening staring at our new five-day-old baby, John, asleep in his car seat. We cooed after he made even the slightest facial movement (yup, you guessed it, he’s the first grandchild and the first nephew in our family so he’s definitely spoiled with attention).

OK, back to Mother’s Day.

One of my favourite ways to show appreciation is through cooking.

Accordingly, I’d planned to prepare a memorable meal to honour everything my mom does for our family (and she does a lot).

Deciding what to make was a challenge (my dilemma is always the same — it’s rather difficult to choose from so many great options).

Mom loves pretty much everything, but her all-time favourites include: rack of lamb, seafood, salad, good quality cheeses, pecan pie, crème caramel (anything with caramel, actually), crème brulee, panna cotta and yoghurt.

Yes, I said yoghurt. Mom is all about moderation! We tease her that her favourite food is actually yoghurt while mine is french fries.

Anyway, I settled on rack of lamb for our main and panna cotta for dessert.

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all of you — especially to my Mom, Rosslynn Shortt, who I am so incredibly fortunate to call “Mom”. I love you mouser! Panna cotta is Italian for “cooked cream” (panna = cream, cotta = cooked) — how could you possibly go wrong?

It’s a light custard served cold and typically with fresh fruit. This recipe is incredibly easy and delicious. I made it for Mom’s birthday last year and everyone loved it so much that I’m going to make it again (which is odd for me as I like to experiment with new recipes).

Mario Batali’s panna cotta with balsamic strawberries (Serves 6)

ingredients for panna cotta

  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1¼ teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1¼ cups plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup sugar

ingredients strawberries

  • 2,1-pint baskets strawberries, hulled, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

method for panna cotta

  • Pour two tablespoons water into small bowl.
  • Sprinkle gelatin over water. Let stand until softened, about 15 minutes.
  • Whisk one cup cream, yogurt, and vanilla in large bowl to blend.
  • Heat remaining one cup cream and half cup sugar in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves and cream comes to a simmer. Remove from heat. Add gelatin mixture, stirring to dissolve gelatin.
  • Mix hot cream-gelatin mixture into yogurt mixture in bowl.
  • Divide mixture among six, three-quarter cup ramekins, using about a half cup for each.
  • Refrigerate desserts uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

method for strawberries

  • Toss strawberries, vinegar, sugar, and pepper in large bowl to combine.
  • Let stand 30 minutes, tossing occasionally.
  • Spoon strawberries over panna cotta and serve.

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