Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hazelnuts, Continued

In my last post, I failed to mention that Henry also loves beets. Again, not my favorite, but when we were up in North Georgia recently and stumbled upon some at a local farmstand, I caved and bought a few.  Anything for Henry, right?

Of course, since I was in the middle of testing hazelnut recipes, the challenge then became how to pair them with beets.  Well, why not?  A beet salad with goat cheese and candied walnuts is certainly not unheard of.

But the idea of candied hazelnuts did not excite me.  Nor did yet another variation on a beet and goat cheese salad.  I perused a few cookbooks.  Nothing.

Then I picked up my copy of "The Zuni Cafe Cookbook" by Judy Rodgers.  (This book was published in 2002 and it is a treasure.  If you can get your hands on it, I would strongly advise adding it to your library).  I came across her recipe for Watercress Salad with Beets and Walnut-Mascarpone Crostini.  Hmmm....

I replaced the watercress with arugula (because that's what I had on hand and I couldn't find watercress anyway) and the walnuts with hazelnuts.  Here is the delicious result:

(adapted from "The Zuni Cafe Cookbook" by Judy Rodgers)

For the beets:
1 lb. whole, fresh beets
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups arugula leaves, washed and dried

Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Scrub beets well and trim both ends. Place in a baking dish and add enough water to come up to ¼-inch. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake until beets are tender, about 35 – 45 minutes, depending upon size of beets. Test for doneness by inserting a skewer or cake tester into the center of a beet. Remove from oven and leave covered for about 5 minutes to finish cooking. Let cool briefly until they are easily handled.

Rub or peel skins from beets (it’s a good idea to wear plastic gloves if you have them so your hands won’t turn purple). Trim ends again and slice beets into wedges. Place in a bowl and dress with salt and pepper, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Let marinate 10 minutes, then add arugula. Toss gently and taste to adjust seasoning. Place in serving bowls or plates and garnish with the crostini.

For the crostini:
8 small baguette slices, toasted
½ cup mascarpone cheese
½ cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts

Spread each bread slice with mascarpone and sprinkle with the chopped hazelnuts.

Serves 4

As you know, I am a salt freak and it is a rare day when I don't use it.  My instinct was to sprinkle a little over the crostini but I resisted the impulse and I was right.  The richness of the mascarpone paired with the sweetness and crunchiness of the hazelnuts was subtle and perfect - and it would have been ruined by the added salt.  Trust me on this one!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hazelnuts for Henry

There isn't much Henry won't eat (except for maple syrup   ...   really, Henry?) but he does have a few favorites, like duck (not my fave) and capers.  He would probably eat cardboard if capers were involved.  He would also walk through fire for hazelnuts, which are the subject of this post.

A friend of mine who lives in Oregon recently lamented the fact that she couldn't find Georgia pecans.  I responded by sending her a bag and she reciprocated by sending me these big beautiful hazelnuts from Oregon.  Already skinned, no less!  Everyone should have a friend like this - thanks, Carol!

Now when you're given a gift like this, you don't want to bury it in your freezer, to be unearthed in a couple of years when those hazelnuts will be hard little dried-out pebbles with no flavor.  Heck no!  Instead you set yourself immediately upon the task of using them in everything you can think of.  Sooner rather than later. 

Let's start with a tart.  As you know, chocolate and hazelnuts are a match made in heaven and this (heavenly) creation does full justice to that.  I would even go so far as to say this would be worth it even if you had to skin all of the hazelnuts yourself!

CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT TART (adapted from Giada DiLaurentis)
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 9 pieces
3 to 5 tablespoons ice water

Place flour and salt in food processor and process for about 10 seconds. Place butter evenly over flour and process until it resembles coarse meal, about 15 to 20 seconds. With processor running, pour 3 T. of the water in a small steady stream through the feed tube and process just until dough comes together. Add a little more water if needed until it just forms a smooth ball.

Remove from processor and knead for several turns then flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Roll out onto floured board and ease into a greased tart pan.  Trim edges and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before proceeding with recipe.

Yield: enough dough for one single crust 9-inch pie

For the pie:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 T. all-purpose unbleached flour
3 extra-large eggs
1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped hazelnuts
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (or chunks)
1 cup light corn syrup
2 T. butter, melted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix all of the ingredients and pour into an unbaked pie crust. Preheat oven to 325-degrees and bake for about 45 minutes, until slightly puffed in center and golden brown. Let cool for 30 minutes before serving.

Serves 8 - 10

BTW, this pie crust recipe (not from Giada) is the one I have used for years.  It's pretty much foolproof, so don't be afraid to try it.

One down, three more (hazelnut recipes) to go!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Weekend Food, Continued

As much as I enjoy cooking on Saturday afternoons, on Sundays ... well, not so much.  As you know, we take those ridiculous long walks (link to post about that is below) and by the time we stagger in the door around 5pm, it's all I can do to drag myself into the shower.  The last thing I want to do is head to the kitchen.

So usually we will just eat leftovers, order out or hit the local pasta joint in our 'hood.  That would be Saba, which caters mostly to Emory students.  An arugula salad, a bowl of steaming pasta, a bottle of cheap red wine and we're happy campers.

Maybe it was that candy corn which addled my brain, but I got the bright idea to SKIP the walk this past Sunday and head for a movie.  Visions of popcorn danced in my head, I guess.  Of course, I could barely eat it once I got engrossed in the movie, "Waiting for Superman."

This is a film everyone should see, but you will not leave the theater feeling uplifted.  You will be thoughtful, grateful that your own kids were able to obtain good educations and you will ask yourself what you can do to make a difference.  I encourage you to see it.

After that, we came home and I flipped the channel to "Sixty Minutes" where the topic was the issue of our homeless veterans.  An issue close to my heart as I volunteer at the VA hospital here in Atlanta (and I used to run a homeless shelter). 

Suffice it to say, comfort food was in order.  I turned to my recently-cleaned-out pantry and pulled out a box of fettucine.  Not whole wheat, either - the real deal.  I remembered Ina Garten's recipe for pasta with truffle butter.  I remembered that container of truffle butter in my fridge.  Screw the calories.

PASTA WITH TRUFFLE BUTTER    (from Ina Garten's "Back to Basics")

Kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 oz. truffle butter*
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 oz. fettucine
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
3 oz. Parmigiano Reggiano, shaved with a vegetable peeler

Add 1 tablespoon of salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, heat the cream over medium heat until it simmers.  Add the truffle butter, salt and pepper and reduce heat to low.  Stir until the butter melts, then keep warm over very low heat.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until just tender to the bite.  Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water then drain the pasta.  Add the pasta to the saute pan and toss well to coat.  As the pasta absorbs the sauce, add as much of the reserved cooking water as necessary to keep the pasta very creamy.

Serve in shallow pasta bowls and top each with a generous sprinkling of chives and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano. 

Yield:  2 to 4 servings

*I bought my truffle butter locally, but here's a link to find it:

You can't eat pasta with truffle butter and not think about those deserving kids who don't have the opportunity for a quality education or those homeless veterans who are recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.  Maybe if we can all just make a difference in the life of just one of them.......

Monday, October 18, 2010

Weekend Food

My idea of a perfect Saturday goes something like this:  hit the gym in the morning for a step or spin class, get sweaty and exhausted, come home, shower, go out for a nice lunch with Henry, run a few errands, wander around Whole Foods or Fresh Market to decide what's for dinner then come home and cook while watching the Food Network and/or old reruns of "The Sopranos."  Exciting life, huh?

But that's when I enjoy my (crappy) kitchen most - when I can take my time and make what I feel like, as opposed to throwing together a quick weeknight dinner.  In the case of this past Saturday, that meant crabcakes!

As usual, I got overly ambitious and decided to make a chocolate hazelnut pie as well (for an upcoming hazelnut blog post, stay tuned).  Oops, but what happened to the pie crust dough I thought I had in the freezer?  Oh wait - I threw it out a few weeks ago.  That meant making and chilling a brand new batch and by the time I got the thing in the oven, it was almost 7:30.  Oops, again.

So dinner may have been a little late that evening, but it was worth waiting for.  I served those lovely crab cakes with silky mashed potatoes and lightly steamed baby carrots with butter and fresh dill.  We polished off a bottle of Hendry rose, sat outside on our front porch and declared that we would definitely order this again.

These are the crabcakes we used to make when I worked at Watershed.  It comes from Scott Peacock and the recipe is in his book with Edna Lewis, "The Gift of Southern Cooking."  The quantities I use here are slightly different from the ones called for in his book, but this stretches the recipe a little bit and the results are equally as tasty (at least I think so).  I always make the entire recipe which yields 12 crabcakes so I can keep some in my freezer.  Then I can trot them out for a quick weeknight dinner or give myself a break from Saturday cooking and take a nap instead!


1 small loaf good quality bakery white bread, unsliced
1 pound lump crabmeat, carefully picked over
1 medium onion (preferably Vidalia), finely chopped
1 bunch scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced then minced
Juice of 1 lemon
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and ground cayenne to taste
3 T. vegetable or canola oil
1 T. unsalted butter

Trim crusts from bread and cut bread into 1-inch chunks.  Place on a baking sheet in one layer and bake in an oven preheated to 350-degrees for 15-20 minutes until just golden, turning once.  Set aside to cool, then grind to fine crumbs in a food processor.  Measure out 2 cups and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the crabmeat, chopped onion, minced scallions, lemon juice, eggs and butter.  Stir in the reserved 2 cups of bread crumbs.  Season to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne.  Mix lightly with your hands until all ingredients are incorporated but do not overhandle.

Scoop out mixture and form lightly into cakes.  (I used a 2 1/2 oz. ice cream scoop for this).  Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

In a large saute pan, heat oil and butter over medium heat.  When pan is hot, add desired number of crabcakes and cook until just golden on one side (about 4 minutes) then turn and brown on the other side.  Serve immediately with lots of lemon wedges and (my recommendation) mashed potatoes.

Yield:  12 crabcakes

As I mentioned, you can freeze any crabcakes you don't use for another time.  Same goes for the bread crumbs - keep them in a ZipLoc bag in your freezer and use them as needed for other dishes.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Yes, I Did!

Went and did it today, in spite of all my talk about local, fresh ingredients with integrity.  The devil made me do it.   IT would be a bag of candy corn.  Yes, I bought it.  Even ate some of it.   IN THE CAR!!!!!.  You realize of course, this stuff is available only once a year.  It was a choice between that or those little candy pumpkins.  Candy corn won out.  Woo Hoo!!!!!

Skinny cook, Liz?  Guess not.

On a more serious note, I am working on some good "blog-worthy" material.  Stuff like crabcakes and things involving hazelnuts.  Chocolate cake, too.  More to follow, I promise.

For now, though, I just didn't want you to think I was AWOL. 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.  Know that I am still out here, cooking and photographing for you.  Recipes forthcoming.  I'll be enjoying the rest of my candy corn in the interim.

BTW, Barbara from MA - you made my day with your post!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Need a Drink

Remember the recent post about my little dinner party?  What I forgot to tell you about was the Vodka Lemonade we inhaled sipped while devouring savoring those radishes and that popcorn. 

It's been a day.  One I would rather not repeat, and it didn't even involve electrical things gone awry.  It was made even more difficult by the fact that I stayed up last night until the wee hours watching the miraculous rescue of those Chilean miners.  If that doesn't make you believe anything is possible, well then, probably nothing will.  Anyway.....

I stumbled in the door this evening, marveled at the fact that my dogs had been captives in the kitchen all day without a single accident (another miracle) and remembered that container of Vodka Lemonade in my freezer. 

Suffice it to say, my day got better.


1 cup (packed) fresh mint leaves, torn
1 cup granulated (preferably superfine) sugar
8 large lemons, zested and juiced
1 1/2 cups vodka

Combine mint, sugar, lemon zest and juice in a large bowl and stir to combine.  Add vodka and refrigerate at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight.

Strain mixture.  Pour into martini glasses and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint, if desired. 

Serves one six

Any leftovers can be placed in the freezer for one of "those days."  Of course, there won't be any leftovers, so who are we really kidding here?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Complete Fake-Out

I am not a vegetarian.  Oh, I'll admit that I once was - a very long time ago - for a very short time.  It had something to do with prepping raw chicken for 500 back in my catering days.  But eventually I succumbed again to the dark side, back to burgers, rib-eyes and that old favorite, bacon.

Several weeks ago we were working on that "cookbook I can't tell you about" and when the photo shoot was done, we gorged ourselves on wood-roasted fois gras with figs and beautifully grilled dry-aged steaks.  Pig heaven (well, more like goose and cow).  Thank goodness my (non-existent) scruples didn't get in the way of the fabulous-ness on that table!

Still, I can be content with just vegetables in front of me.  I can't think of any I don't like, and they are constant visitors to my dinner plate.  Particularly if they are roasted.  Did you know that roasted brussels sprouts are almost as good as french fries?  (In truth, they are just a vehicle for salt).  Roasted cauliflower is pretty awesome, too.  Or a whole head of cauliflower microwaved for 10 minutes then slathered all over with dijon mustard, topped with shredded sharp cheddar and nuked again for about a minute until the cheese melts.  That's what I made last night and I will admit to polishing off the leftovers for breakfast this morning. 

So I am never unhappy when invited to my vegetarian friend's house for dinner (Linda, you know who you are).  She is a great cook and she has taught me a few tricks, like her lentil loaf and vegetarian chili.

And that is what I want to share with you - Linda's Vegetarian Chili.  It's delicious, it's healthy and no one will ever know it's meatless, unless you tell them.  I made a big batch of it the other day (remember, it's autumn and I'm into that kind of cooking), served it to Henry and he didn't have a clue.  Guess I should have kept my mouth shut.

I like it served over rice with a dollop of sour cream.  In my nod to trying to become a skinny cook one of these days, I served it over brown rice (cooked with chicken stock, so much for my veggie efforts) with a spoonful of nonfat, local "Greek" yogurt.  Virtuous, yet delicious.

This recipe makes a lot, but do what I did:  eat it for dinner, save enough for a couple of lunches at home and freeze the rest.  You'll be glad you did when you drag it out on a cold winter's evening and can enjoy it without any real cooking that night.  A glass of decent red wine with it won't hurt, either.


3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
8 stalks celery, chopped
2 red peppers, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
3/4 lbs. mushrooms, rough chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 28-oz. cans diced tomatoes
2 15-oz. cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes, to taste
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon marjoram
2 12-oz. bags Morningstar Farms "meat" crumbles
1 12-oz. bottle of beer (I used Heineken), optional
Cooked brown rice and greek yogurt or sour cream for serving

Heat the olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add onions and celery and saute until fragrant and vegetables start to soften.  Add red and green peppers and continue to cook until peppers start to soften.  At this point, it is a good idea to season well with salt and pepper.

Add mushrooms (portobellos or criminis are good for this dish as they are "meaty") and garlic; continue to cook for 5 minutes more or until mushrooms start to give off their juice.  Add tomatoes and kidney beans then season to taste with more salt and pepper, the red pepper flakes, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, basil, oregano and marjoram.  When mixture starts to bubble, add the crumbles, cover the pot and lower the heat.  Simmer until chili thickens slightly and flavors start to meld, about 30 minutes, stirring frequently so chili doesn't scorch on the bottom of the pot. 

Add the beer, if using, and continue to cook, uncovered, until most of the alcohol evaporates, about 20 minutes.  Taste to adjust seasonings and serve in a large bowl over (brown) rice and a dollop of yogurt or sour cream.

Serves 12
Now don't turn up your nose at those Morningstar Farms "meat" crumbles.  They give this chili the right texture and just think of all the fat and calories you're saving!  You will find them in the freezer section of your grocery store.  If you just can't bring yourself to use them, you could always substitute ground bison for a low-fat meat version of this dish.  Your choice!

Since we are heading to Hugh Acheson's new restaurant in Atlanta tonight for dinner, I'm thinking my lunch today will be a nice bowl of this guilt-free chili!  I'll make up for it tonight, I'm sure!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dinner Party

Henry and I love to entertain, however, I am not one to throw a formal dinner party.  If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you probably know that my style is low-key and casual, as in wear your shorts or blue jeans, I'll throw something on the grill and we'll most likely eat outside on the patio.  It won't be fancy but we promise we will feed you well and there will be no shortage of beer, wine or alcohol!

When autumn arrives though, my preferences change.  Grilling gives way to slow-simmered aromatic braises, salads go from juicy ripe tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and home-grown basil to lettuces adorned with warm goat cheese, desserts morph from light and fruity concoctions to things like apple-studded spice cake or gingerbread, Stilton and port make their re-appearance and we might, just might even serve dinner at the dining room table.  Nonetheless, it won't be stilted or stuffy.  Not in my house!

So when we invited friends over for dinner recently, I had visions of a lovely leg of lamb upon a bed of white beans fragrant with rosemary, set smack dab in the middle of the table so that everyone could help thenselves.  Repeatedly.

Fortunately (to my great dismay), I discovered ahead of time that one of my guests could not eat red meat, pork or seafood.  Crap.  That meant chicken.  I ate enough grilled chicken with lemon-pepper-shallot butter over the summer to last a lifetime.  Lamb, I wanted lamb!

Once I got over myself, I turned to the task of creating a menu.  I decided upon that old fave, "Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic."  Well, until I consulted my handwritten menu files.  (Yep, I keep a record of everything I've served to guests in my home for the last 15 years or so.  How sick is that??  Haha, if you've ever had a meal here, I'll bet I can tell you what you ate!)  But in this case, it served me well because I discovered I had made this dish for these same guests a couple years ago.  Crap again.  Back to the drawing board....

Then I remembered "Donna Siebert's Roman Chicken" that I used to make.  It comes from Nathalie Dupree (remember her?) and I got it from a cooking class I took from her back in the late eighties (yikes).  This dish is packed with flavor and I have never served it without a request for the recipe.  It is also better if made ahead which is a big plus if you ask me.

Here is my menu:

Radishes with European Butter
Hawaiian Pink Sea Salt, Australian Flake Sea Salt,
Ocean Smoked Sea Salt, Truffle Salt

Rosemary-Pine Nut Popcorn


Donna Siebert's Roman Chicken

Dick Simpson's Polenta
Pecans, Gruyere, Rosemary

Grape Tomato and Red Onion Skewers


Vanilla Buttermilk Panna Cottas
Strawberry/Rose Wine Sauce
Oatmeal Lace Cookies


English Toffee with Fleur de Sel

Now, you already have three of these recipes.  Here are the links, so you can reference them again:

Rosemary-Pine Nut Popcorn

Oatmeal Lace Cookies

English Toffeee with Fleuer de Sel

For the radishes, just clean them well and set them out with the softened (unsalted) butter and small ramekins of the assorted salts.  The idea is to douse them with a little butter then dip into the salt.  People love this and it always inspires debate about which salt reigns supreme.  Great convo starter, too!

DONNA SIEBERT'S ROMAN CHICKEN (adapted from Nathalie Dupree)

For the chicken:
3 tablespoons olive oil (may need more if doing chicken in batches)
3 lbs. chicken pieces, bone-in with skin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh rosemary, divided
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
Red pepper flakes, to taste
1 small jar of capers
1 tablespoon anchovy paste
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
1 cup good red wine vinegar

For the garnish:
1/2 cup chopped Italian (flat leaf) parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
Zest of 2 lemons, minced

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large saute pan.  Season chicken well with salt and pepper and add to the hot pan, skin side down.  When golden brown, turn and brown on the other side.  Do not crowd the pan; you may need to do this in several batches.  Remove chicken from pan when browned; reserve.

Increase heat to high and add garlic, 1/4 cup of the rosemary and wine to the pan.  Bring to a boil and reduce by half.  Add the chicken stock and red pepper flakes to taste and reduce slightly; about 10 minutes.  Add reserved chicken and capers, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until chicken is tender and falling off the bone, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, combine the anchovy paste, oregano, remaining rosemary and red wine vinegar.  When chicken is done, remove to a platter and cover with foil.  Add the red wine vinegar mixture to the pan, increase heat to high and boil until reduced by half.  Taste to adjust seasoning.  Return chicken (and accumulated juices) to pan to heat through.  Place on a serving platter, pour pan juices over and sprinkle with the garnish.

For the garnish:
Combine chopped parsley, garlic and lemon zest.  Sprinkle evenly over chicken.

Serves 4 - 6


(Dick Simpson is my dear friend in Tampa whose birthday party we attended last June. He prefers to be called Richard, but I've known him way too long for that.   He's a fabulous cook and this is his recipe for polenta.  It rocks.  His recipe calls for walnuts, but I use pecans.  Either will work.  Once you make this, you will never make plain old polenta again.  Oh, and you get to make this in advance also.  Way to go, Dick Richard!)

4 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
1 cup finely grated Gruyere cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring stock to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Using a whisk, slowly add cornmeal, whisking constantly until dissolved.  Add the 1 teaspoon of salt, lower heat to medium-low and continue cooking for 10 - 15 minutes, whisking frequently until mixture is thickened and all liquid is absorbed.  Add the butter, pecans, rosemary and Gruyere.  Add salt and pepper to taste, then spread mixture into a greased 9-inch pie plate.  Cover and chill.

When ready to serve, cut into eighths.  Preheat oven to 350-degrees.  Places wedges on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until just warmed through.

Serves 8 (or 6 if you cut really big wedges)


For each skewer:
4 cherry or grape tomatoes
2 pieces red onion
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Thread tomatoes and onions onto each skewer.  Brush each one with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.

Fire up your grill and place a few wood chips over the coals.  Grill skewers, turning once until tomatoes are just cooked through but not bursting, about 5 minutes.

VANILLA BUTTERMILK PANNA COTTAS (adapted from Claudia Fleming's "The Last Course")

For the panna cottas:
1 tablespoon cold water
1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
7 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla paste
1 3/4 cups buttermilk

For the sauce:
1 1/2 pints strawberries, hulled'
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 bottle rose wine

For the panna cottas, place the water in a small bowl and sprinkle with the gelatin.  Let soften for 5 minutes.

In  saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the cream with the sugar and vanilla paste, stirring until the sugar dissolves.  Turn off the heat and add the softened gelatin.  Stir until dissolved then whisk in the buttermilk.  Strain into a measuring cup with a spout then pour into six 8-oz. ramekins.  Chill until firm, at least 3 hours or preferably overnight.

For the sauce, combine the strawberries and sugar in a bowl and let stand for 30 minutes to let juices develop.  Place this into a saucepan, add the wine and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until most of the alcohol is cooked off, about 1 hour.

Strain through a cheesecloth-lined sieve.  Do not press on the solids; allow the liquid to drain slowly.  Discard the berries and use the sauce to serve with the unmolded panna cottas.

Serves 6

Couldn't decide what size to make.  In the end I served the larger.
More to enjoy!

Maybe I have just a few too many of these things!

Note:  in the interest of full disclosure, I added gelatin to the sauce.  I unmolded the panna cottas into wide serving glasses (those would be my margarita glasses!) then poured the sauce around it and set in the fridge to solidify.  It made a gorgeous presentation but personally, I didn't like the texture.  Next time I'll just stick with the sauce.

I think this is the longest blog I have ever posted.  Sorry, everyone!  That said, I hope you make and enjoy some of these recipes.  Here's to your next dinner party!