The British are coming?...........really?......... well, kind of............ at least to our house.......you see, my daughter and her family are arriving tomorrow from their home in London. While they're all full-fledged, American citizens (ex-pats), they are coming from Britain and we're beyond excited to have them here for the holidays........ so I'll say it one more time "The British are coming!!!! whooooohooo! ..........
I wanted to make a fun, delicious, but also light, dinner to celebrate their arrival. They'll travel all day and when they get here, it will still be the middle of the day! It's difficult to have a huge appetite when you're experiencing an eight hour jet-lag so, with that in mind, I've made one of our favorite soups, Chicken, Dumpling and Veggie Soup (look for the recipe next week!). I"ll it serve with my Avocado and Cranberry Salad (my daughter's request) and we'll finish the meal with this fabulous Panna Cotta Kiwi-Citrus Gelée.
I have to admit that I'm a bit of a copy-cat with this recipe. I saw these Panna Cottas several weeks ago on A Food Lover's Journey blog and honestly, I couldn't stop staring at them! I thought it was one of the prettiest things I had ever seen. You'll want to check out this blog - Anh has a ton of wonderful recipes and her photography is simply stunning!
This is a great recipe for making ahead of time. It needs several hours for the gelatin to work it's magic, so start early in the day or even the day before you want to serve it. You can use any type of fruit for the gelée in this lovely panna cotta, but if you decide to use kiwi, like I did, don't skip the simmering step - I made this mistake for everyone else to learn from!
I didn't know this beforehand, (but I leaned the hard way!) that kiwi has an unusual enzyme which prevents the gelatin in the gelée from blooming (or setting). After several hours of refrigeration, I excitedly went to check my desserts and guess what I found? - the prettiest kiwi-citrus soup you've ever seen!! I utilized my friend, Mr. Google, and found this wonderfully helpful site (by David Lebovitz) with all the ins and outs of working with gelatin. I threw it all in a pot, gave it a nice simmer (I learned that heat inactivates this enzyme) and next thing I knew I had beautiful Kiwi-Citrus Gelées!
P.S. Oh, and I have to share this with you - I got a really fun Christmas present earlier this week - I was accepted as a contributing writer and had my first article and recipe published on Honest Cooking (look for my Strawberry Balsamic Pizza article), an amazing international, on-line culinary magazine! If you aren't familiar with Honest Cooking, you'll want to check it out. It's loaded with interesting articles, recipes, interviews and reviews on everything having to do with food, from "soup to nuts", (literally!) - from all over the globe!
Panna Cotta with Kiwi-Citrus Gelée
Ingredients for Kiwi-Citrus Gelee:
4 medium kiwi, peeled, halved and pureed in food processor
citrus juice (from lemons, limes, oranges, tangerines, etc.), enough to equal 2 cups when added to kiwi puree
1/4-1/2 cups sugar
1 packet powdered gelatin
6 tablespoons cold water
Ingredients for the Panna Cotta:
4 cups half-and-half
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2 packets powdered gelatin (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
Directions for Kiwi-Citrus Gelée:
1. Combine citrus juice with kiwi puree to equal 2 cups. Add sugar, to taste; start with the 1/4 cup and add more as desired. Place in medium size pot, bring to a simmer and then keep at simmer for 1 minute, then remove from heat and allow to cool.
2. While kiwi-citrus mixture is cooling, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a small bowl, whisk thoroughly to dissolve and let stand 5 to 10 minutes. If mixture is not clear after sitting, set container holding gelatin mixture in a bowl of very hot water, stirring occasionally till clear.
3. Add gelatin mixture to kiwi mixture and stir until well combined.
4. Divide the Kiwi-Citrus Gelée mixture into 6 glasses. Leave to set for about 2 hours in the fridge before proceeding to the panna cotta. (If you want the "angle" effect, put the glasses into an egg tray or a cake pan and prop them up with a kitchen towel in a tilted position).
Directions for the Panna Cotta:
1. Heat the heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan or microwave. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste.
2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 5 to 10 minutes. If mixture is not clear after sitting, set container holding gelatin mixture in a bowl of very hot water, stirring occasionally till clear.
3. Pour the very warm Panna Cotta mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
4. Carefully ladle the Panna Cotta mixture into the cups on top of the Kiwi-Citrus Gelée, then chill again until Panna Cotta is firm, at least two hours.
Adapted from A Food Lover's Journey and David Lebovitz