These past days have all been about food you can eat with a spoon or literally drink.
My mouth feels like the Hunger Games were held in it.
Cuts, gaps, stitches. The whole lot.
On Monday I had my three remaining wisdom teeth
drilled, broken to pieces and yanked out of my surgically cut open and bleeding gums extracted and since then eating has involved very little chewing.
My first day was all about yogurt and ice cream. Might I add that there is just no fun in being allowed to indulge in pints of that stuff when it feels cold in one part of your mouth and hot on the other side, where it not so attractively dribbles out of the corners down onto your chin?
Yesterday, however, was a different story. Not only was I starving by then, but I was drugged and happy and had the whole day to cook without the kids around.
I had visions of making my own bread since I finally had all the time in the world to let it rise, only to remember I wouldn't be able to bite into its warm, crunchy crust once I pulled it out of the oven.
Next I thought of finally trying to make my own macarons, but I got tired just reading the many tips and precautions I would have to take.
Truth is I was heavily medicated on antibiotics and painkillers and didn't have the energy to get started on such a mastodontic task.
So I settled with what I do best: simple and tasty. Plus something that could be consumed with a spoon and stitched up gums.
I recently made a Bavarese that I wanted to post about, but the unmolding did not turn out quite as well as I had planned and the pictures I took were in the dark at a friend's house. Not blog material, so I had been waiting to make it again to post about it. At the last minute, however, I opted for a panna cotta, which is similar in concept minus the eggs and milk. Oh, and the cream is not whipped. The end result was not all that different tastewise or texture wise, and it was certainly quicker to assemble, but as I write this there is probably already a shouting crowd of inhabitants of Piedmont waiting outside my door with pitchforks.
Panna cotta (literally cooked cream) may be the quintessential Italian dessert but I am not much of a pudding person and have never been a huge fan. Not that I dislike it, I just don't love it. I mean, if I am going to have the calories, I may as well go for ice cream or a huge piece of chocolate cake.
I have to admit that making my own has somewhat changed my mind. Not only is there something comforting about seeing the fresh and few ingredients that go in there, do I need to remind you of the heavenly combination of strawberries and cream? Come on!
Also, promise me you will taste a spoonful of that vanilla bean and sugar infused cream before you mix in the puree... swoon! Honestly.
And there is something fun, that brings out your inner child, in using gelatin sheets. Wheeeee!
(Oh, about the gelatin in sheets. Although it is typically used in Italy for this recipe, I am aware it is not easy to find everywhere. I did some reading up for you and it seems that 1 1/2 teaspoons of powder/granules can be used to substitute 2 sheets. Or, if you prefer a vegetarian option, 1 teaspoon of agar agar can be used for every half liter (500ml) of liquid).
The thing that you will find the hardest is waiting for the panna cotta to set. Oh, and perhaps the unmolding. Read the instructions well.
Now that I made this, I am thinking of the possibilities... endless.
Ingredients (yields 7 servings)
seeds from 1 vanilla pod
100gr icing sugar
3 gelatine sheets (6 gr) or substitute (see above)
Rinse and quarter the strawberries and then puree them with a blender, hand mixer or food processor. Strain the puree to get rid of seeds and fiber. Set aside.
Soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water for about 10 minutes.
In the meantime, warm up the cream in a sauce pan with the sugar and vanilla seeds. Turn off just before it starts boiling and whisk in the gelatine leaves making sure they dissolve completely. Set aside to cool. When the cream has cooled enough, strain in a sieve and mix in the strawberry puree.
Prepare a large mold or smaller molds by rinsing them in cold water and shaking out the excess water. Pour in the mixture and let set in the fridge (at least 2 hours for a small mold and over 6 for a larger mold - don't be impatient, wait till it has completely set or you will be very disappointed).
When it is time to unmold, place the mold in a bowl of warm water for just a few seconds. Don't make the mistake of leaving it in too long, trust me on this one.
If you want to keep things even easier, just pour the mixture into a pretty glass and serve that way.