This is another recipe from my book of the moment by Katie Caldesi and inspired by the gorgeous meal The Man and I had there recently. I had a trio of panna cotta for dessert; basil, strawberry and coffee with espresso syrup. I’m going to have a go at the basil recipe ( it’s also in the book) at some point but for me it was the coffee one which stole the show.
As The Man will confirm I watch Come Dine With Me a fair bit, and I’m often puzzled by people worrying that their panna cotta won’t set, it seems to me that as long as you don’t over heat the gelatine and use the right amount of liquid to gelatine ( follow the recipe) they are very simple and quick to make. But maybe it’s easier without the camera crew and group of strangers in your house!
Healthy they are not, these are a calorie laden combination of double cream, sugar, stong coffee and enough gelatine to give a set but soft texture. Nigella once used the phrase ” a hint of inner thigh wibble” to describe the texture of a cheese cake, it makes me cringe but that’s what I am aiming for with a good panna cotta. It is also a warning about what you will end up with if you eat too many of them!The coffee and cream mixture is smooth, creamy and not too sweet with a subtle coffee flavor, the coffee syrup is the opposite; and quite addictive. In a thin, sticky, intensely sweet coffee-ee layer I think it lifts this into my pudding hall of fame. Again it is incredibly easy. I got distracted and forgot the recipe, just throwing 200g of sugar into a pan with 100ml of sugar into a pan and boiling until it had reduced to a caramel and it was fine.
I made the panna cotta in espresso cups, partly as portion and calorie control but also because I think the flavours here work best in moderation. I loved to coffee syrup so much that I’m planning on making a double or triple quantity batch to keep in the fridge to use on ice cream, as a base for ice coffee, cocktails or to add to a glass of cola *whispers* or maybe just to eat with a spoon as a pick me up.
The Man and I don’t knowingly grow too much that isn’t edible on the allotment but I have a soft spot for sweet peas. I’m yet to grow them as well as my Dad, but they grow well enough to keep me happy.
I love the fine yet sturdy stems and delicately drooping flowers; the smell takes me straight back to childhood summers. These sweet smelling lovelies are from a pound shop packet of seeds and so far have proved very good value.
I work from home quite a lot and having a bunch on the table while I work is a real pick me up, and that’s worth much more than a pound!
This recipe marked a return to my American food obsession but with an attempt at being healthy. I also quite like picking up recipes from other food bloggers around the world, taking a chance on other people’s recipes can be an easy way of picking up new ideas, and it is cheaper than buying cookery books. In fact here is a challenge, get out there, get Googling and see whatother people are cooking!
Sloppy Joes are VERY American and not common on menus over here. This recipe comes from Iowa Girl Eats with a quick cross-reference with Sheila Lukins USA Cookbook to make sure I was on the right track.
I don’t own a tofu press ( I’ve no idea where you would buy one) so I might not have achieved the dry crumbly texture of Iowa Girl’s tofu but squeezing it with my hand. I’m also not sure how you are supposed to eat them, knife and fork feels too formal, but attempting to eat them with our hands was incredibly messy.
I think the texture and taste might be improved by using meat, or maybe it is because I’m used to burgers in buns, but both The Man and I found them a bit odd, in a way I can’t quite put my finger on. I could get used to them, and I think if I’d grown up eating them they would probably fit the bill as comfort food really well, but I’m not sure I wouldn’t rather have the constituent parts made into a burger. I have a feeling I have missed the point somewhere with sloppy joes somehow.
The other day, after two very busy weeks The Man booked us a table at Caldesi in Campagna in Bray. Since buying The Italian Cookery Course by Katie Calsesi, (one half of the husband and wife duo behind the restaurant), we had been promising ourselves a visit as a treat so it was lovely to finally go. This isn’t a review site, but the food was wonderful and the staff charming and easy-going; our meal was not cheap but a fabulous treat and one that was much-needed!
The meal also inspired me to go back to the book and try some more recipes. I was keen to use something from the allotment so looked up broad beans in the index and found Stufato di salsicce, fave e patate a much more elegant way of saying; sausage, broad bean and potato casserole.
For a recipe with a fairly simple list of ingredients (sausage, potato, beans, tomato, chilli & garlic) it was a really rich, tasty stew, with a good kick of heat. Perhaps better suited to winter or autumn eating, but with fresh ingredients picked and dug up earlier in the afternoon on the allotment it made sense. The Man pronounced it ” a triumph” so it must have been good.
We ate it with a slice of home-made rye bread to soak up the sauce, (the bread maker has really been earning its keep), and a glass of italian red. I’ve got a feeling this recipe will become a regular fixture even if visits to the restaurant don’t.
We finally dug up some of the Shetland Black potatoes, they got hit by a late frost and haven’t grown as quickly as normal because the poor things had to re grow most of their leaves!
They were still very small, but have an incredible purple skin when given a good scrub. They also have white flesh with a purple ring running through it.
I’d love to be able to include a photo of what they look like cooked, but I took my eye off them and they boiled to mush, so no pictures and a slightly odd dinner. I’ll have to pay more attention to them next time but here are some broad beans instead!
I used to hate them when I was little but growing them and eating them fresh has rehabilitated the humble broad bean in my eyes. That’s lucky really because for the first year The Man and I have managed to grow enough for a few dinners worth.
The long dry spell in April may seem a long way away now, but it seems to have taken its toll on the allotment, at least that’s my excuse! Things are slowly getting going. The courgettes had been dawdling, after a really good start with the bottle cloches, but are finally catching up.
This one has a way to go before it’s worth eating but I’m relieved they are getting a move on, in previous years we have been eating courgettes for a while, and are probably a bit fed up of them (so perhaps it’s a bit of a saving grace).
The broad beans on the other hand are doing very well for once and there is the real possibility we will be able to have them with more than one meal this year, a break through!