December 09, 2002
Raspberry Panna Cotta
posted by Carl

I saw some raspberries when I was at Whole Foods the other day. I picked them up on a whim, not really knowing what I would do with them. I know that they're out of season and probably come from another hemisphere, but they looked so good that I couldn't resist. I ended up using them for a panna cotta, modifying a recipe that Nadia learned in Italy. The original recipe was for a plain vanilla (literally) panna cotta, so I just exchanged the vanilla extract for the raspberry jam. I used the fresh raspberries as something of a garnish, submerging them in the cream as it set up in the fridge. With the addition of the jam, the cream took on a nice lavender color -- paler than I would have suspected -- and the hidden raspberries gave a sharp bite of tartness to an otherwise smooth and sweet dessert.


Raspberry Panna Cotta

1 envelope (~ 1 tbs) powdered gelatin
2-3 tbs cold water
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups half and half
1/3 cup sugar
4-6 tbs raspberry jamb
1/2 pint fresh raspberries (optional)

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let sit until all the water is absorbed. Heat briefly (10 seconds should be enough) in the microwave until the gelatin is dissolved, and reserve. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, mix the cream, half and half, sugar, and jam with a whisk. Over medium heat, bring this mixture to just below a simmer. Remove from heat and let stand for a few minutes. Once the dairy mixture has cooled a bit, quickly whisk in the reserved gelatin. Pass the liquid through a strainer to remove all of the raspberry seeds. Divide the strained liquid among 8 ramekins and let cool. Cover the ramekins with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until set, about 4 hours. If you are using fresh raspberries, let the panna cotta firm up in the fridge for about an hour and then push the raspberries into the partially set cream.

Lamb Riblets

Another find at the Whole Foods: lamb riblets. They looked to be short sections of rib, probably from the breast area. I was reading from the Bittman cookbook that he likes to crisp up the remaining meat on lamb bones that have been trimmed away. He says that he eats them like a snack. It sounded like a fabulous idea, and very much in line with our never ending desire for crispy, greasy, finger food. (Well I don't think that we desire the greasiness, it just usually happens to be a byproduct.)

I set the oven as high as it would go and carefully prepped all the riblets, rubbing them with a light coating of olive oil, then sprinkling them with salt and pepper. I set the riblets on a wire rack above a shallow roasting pan and put them in the oven. I think the high temperature was necessary to get the best crisp in the shortest amount of time, thus keeping the inside tender and juicy. I didn't anticipate that the collected dripping would create so much smoke. We actually set off the smoke alarm a couple of times which is rather hard to do accidentally since it is around two corners and down the hall from the kitchen. The shrieking sound of the alarm was well worth it though as the riblets were perfect. There was a very nicely crisped and browned layer on the outside, and the inside was tender, juicy, and delicious. While it was a very tasty meal, it was a messy, two-handed affair; not one to do at a dinner party.