Posts Tagged ‘basil’

Cucumber Basil Water

September 2009 130

We have an excess amount of cucumber and basil in our garden right now. Easy way to put them to use? Slice up the cucumber, then add the slices and basil leaves to a pitcher of water. So refreshing.


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Panna Cotta

Ok, about a dozen recipes are in line to be added on the blog, but after the feedback from last night I had to add this one right away.  Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert, and literally means, “cooked cream”. And that is, quite simply, about all there is to it. It’s simple and cheap, and if properly plated, sure to impress dinner guests.

The only drawback is that it needs to be prepped at least four hours prior to eating. But to be honest, the early prep diminishes any stress you might have during that small window of time post-dinner and pre-dessert. Once you’re ready to eat, all you need to do is plate everything.

If you’re using the basil leaves, they need to dry for six hours prior to serving. You could make the basil leaves and panna cotta at the same time, and let the panna cotta sit, covered and refrigerated, for an extra two hours. You can make the red wine sauce ahead as well.

Vanilla BeanI combined a few recipes to make this one. They came from Food and Wine, David Lebowitz, and several of my cookbooks at home. 

The key here is using a fresh vanilla bean, rather than extract. Not only does it add a whole dimension of flavor, the flecks of bean are quite pretty.

Vanilla is a member of the orchid family, and one of the more high-priced spices out there. It grows much like a vine, crawling up an already existing tree.  It takes nine months to mature enough for harvest. When packaged, they look much like a very long brown bean that happens to have an incredibly fragrant aroma.

This recipe serves eight.


24 basil leaves

1 egg white

Fine cane sugar

2 cups red wine

1/2 cup plus 10 tablespoons sugar (I used sugar in the raw)

4 cups  heavy cream

Half a vanilla bean

6 tablespoons cold water

2 packets gelatin


First, rinse and pat dry basil leaves. Crack egg, and over a small bowl, pour yolk back and forth between each half shell to separate white from the yolk. Whisk egg white until it becomes frothy.

Late August 2009 052

Egg WhiteEgg White

Now, brush egg white on both sides of basil leaves.

Panna Cotta

Sprinkle fine cane sugar on both sides of leaves.

Cane Sugar

Dry sugar-crusted leaves, on a rack, for six hours.


Pour cream into a deep pan. Add sugar and stir to dissolve.

Panna CottaPanna Cotta

Heat, over medium setting, until sugar is dissolved. Meanwhile, split the bean and using a sharp knife, scrape out the seeds. Put seeds and bean into pan, remove from heat, and cover for 30 minutes.

Vanilla BeanVanilla Bean

Add gelatin to the cold water and let it sit. No need to stir it in. After the thirty minutes have passed, whisk gelatin into cream mixture.  Lightly oil eight ramekins, coffee cups, or small bowls. Pour mixture in to them. Store in refrigerator for at least four hours, until ready to serve.

Panna Cotta

Now, pour red wine into a saucepan. Turn heat to medium and stir sugar in, until it dissolves. Red Wine SauceHeat and stir until it reduces by half, for about 10-15 minutes. Pour into airtight container and refrigerate.

Once you’re ready to serve, pull everything out of the refrigerator. Slide a sharp knife along the inside of the ramekin, or whatever container you are using. Flip over your serving plate, and lightly shake it so that it slides out onto the plate.

Pour sauce on the side, and garnish each plate with three basil leaves.


Panna Cotta

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