Inspired by a spring week in Paris where beige limestone and spring flowers were framed by a colorless pale grey sky. There were brief moments of blue skies and sunshine, these were spent reading on the green metal chairs that surround the pond at the Luxembourg gardens, leaning my chair back as it sunk in the pebble-y floor and toy sailboats cruised by. And there were brief moments of standing under awnings, waiting for the splattering rain and dark, smoke-colored clouds to make their way thru as I once again made a mental note to own at least one waterproof rain coat. But mostly the sky alternated between a soft pale grey and bright blinding white, as the sun tried and failed to glare through a dense fog of omnipresent clouds.
This swirl of grey - in the marbled skies, the dark asphalt, the smooth sidewalks and the stone buildings - could have painted a bleak picture. But it was interspersed with bright green shoots of new grass, blooming lilac trees, vivid yellow tulips, swaying sycamore trees and the rainbow colored spring produce on the markets - piles of nectarines, tangles of rhubarb and bunches of radish. Cherries are a little later on in the season but it's what we have now and it works out pretty well.
CHERRY JASMINE PANNA COTTA
- 2 tablespoons of water, lukewarm
- 1 1/4 teaspoon (3.5 grams) unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup of plain whole milk or 2% Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup of half and half or cream
- 1 tablespoon of loose leaf jasmine tea or 2 bags of jasmine tea
- 1/2 cup of water
- 3 tablespoons to 1/4 cup of honey
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla paste
- 1/2 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- To serve: honey to taste, cherries, edible flowers
- Makes 4 cup servings. Lightly coat the inside of the cups with olive or canola oil if you plan to unmold the panna cotta before serving.
- Place the lukewarm water in a small cup or bowl, add the gelatin, mix in and let sit until the gelatin softens for about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the 1/2 cup of water until boiling, remove from the stove (or microwave) and add the jasmine tea and let steep for 5-10 minutes. Once steeped remove the tea, add the gelatin-water mixture into the tea, add honey into the tea and then mix everything until well incorporated. If necessary heat a bit so that everything dissolves well.
- In a larger bowl, whisk together the yogurt, half and half or cream, the tea and gelatin mixture, the lemon and the vanilla paste. Pour the mixture into a mold or cups and chill in fridge for at least 3 hours for small cups and ideally overnight (~8 hours) for larger molds.
- If you want to unmold, fill a baking dish with 1-inch of boiling water. Dip the panna cotta mold or cups in it for a few seconds, and then flip it out.
- Before serving top with fresh cherries, edible flowers and honey.
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen.
Whether you use half and half or cream, this panna cotta still turns out lovely and velvety, mostly due to the yogurt (which should definitely be at least 2%). These are fairly lightly sweetened so serve with honey so everyone can sweeten to taste. Lastly if you don't have cherries, strawberries, rhubarb, stone fruit or other berries would be wonderful too. But the cherries are quite nice.