Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Nutella Sauce
Feb16

Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Nutella Sauce

Panna Cotta—which means “cooked cream” in Italian—is the most luscious, dreamy dessert, and you won’t believe how easy it is to make!   We had the pleasure of dining at charmingly quaint Via Veneto in Santa Monica last weekend (favorite new LA restaurant!), with our dear friend, Neil, who was visiting from New York. Left to Right: Neil Gillis, Orna Purkin, Sam Purkin   I can resist most restaurant desserts… but they had me at Nutella! Their Panna Cotta with Nutella Sauce was one of the most exquisite things ever to pass my lips. Delightfully smooooth and silky. (How could a milky pudding topped with chocolate hazelnut sauce be bad?) Sorry, didn’t even pause to take a pic before indulging! I politely stopped after what seemed like my third of the dessert, but when I realized that no one else was going in, I quietly scooped up the rest. I guess I wasn’t as discreet as I thought, because quick-witted friend Neil said, are you going to scarf that one too? (Referring to the Berry Panna Cotta, which the extremely authentic Italian waiter—whom we thought at first was was putting on an accent—had mistakenly brought out, and graciously allowed us to keep.) Funny! (Rude) And so began my mission to make Perfect Panna Cotta for Valentine’s Day I found the cute heart shaped ramekins at Cost Plus World Market.   There are many variations of Vanilla Panna Cotta out there, and I can’t believe I got suckered in by the 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt in Iron Chef Michael Symon’s recipe. (Either that or the boyish good looks and charm!) I know a mere 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt won’t add protein or nutritional value to an entire recipe. (And it’s kind of ironic, since I gobbled up every last drop of remaining full-cream deliciousness—putting my usual fat free yogurts to shame!)   Anyway, I thought a little tang in the Panna Cotta would balance the sweetness of the sauce… right? Right! Oh.  My.  Goodness. Your guests will be blown away by this beautiful and decadent dessert—surprisingly light, and not too rich or sweet. If you want to keep it super-simple, just pour into serving glasses or cups and refrigerate—no need to un-mold before serving. (That part can get a little tricky.) PLEASE try it! And let me know how you like it.   Foolproof Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta   Vanilla Beans are pricy, but really take this kind of a dessert to a whole other level. And they’re fun to use.   Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the sticky seeds with the tip of a...

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Delectable Strawberry Shortcake
May30

Delectable Strawberry Shortcake

These are AMAZINGLY good!  The biscuits are delicious for breakfast too! I felt like baking something yummy… Last day of Memorial Day weekend, and no more juice to play outside with my overzealous three-year-old! The 7-page-spread on Strawberry Shortcake in Food Network Magazine—7 of the 10 pages I actually managed to read; between fetching snacks, getting paints, and averting mini-disasters in our back yard—had me scrambling to find the episode of The Best Thing I Ever Made, where Iron Chef and Chopped Judge, Alex Guarnaschelli, impressed me with her updated Strawberry Shortcakes, with some interesting ingredients. Biscuit or Scone? They reminded me of the gorgeous scones that my step-mother, Pam, would whip up for “tea” on a Sunday afternoon for company; with strawberry jam and dollops of whipped cream. Yumm. Coming from South Africa—where a biscuit is a cookie, and a cookie is a cupcake (I know, very confusing)—I set out to figure out the difference between a biscuit and a scone. According to Rose Levy Beranbaum, my baking idol, the only difference is the shape; biscuits are round and scones triangular. Alex’s Special Twists I love the hint of cinnamon and lemon zest, and the vanilla—all of which intensify the flavor, and color, of James Beard’s Strawberry Shortcake, on which her recipe is based. The luscious, velvety dough is created by a secret ingredient—hard-cooked egg yolks. James Beard, “The Father of American Cooking,” learned this trick from his mother. He shared it with Larry Forgione, “The Godfather of American Cooking,” and owner of the famed New York City restaurant, An American Place, where this casual but delectable, quintessentially American dessert was featured—during which time Alex spent one-and-a-half years, at the start of her career. Since I’m not usually a sorbet fan, this other Alex-surprise-twist was unexpectedly one of my favorite parts of the whole ensemble! You can find Sharon’s Gourmet Sorbet at Gelsons Market Trader Joe’s also carries a delicious Raspberry Sorbet The cool, slightly tart sorbet makes the strawberries pop, and balances the richness of the smooth cream and the warm biscuit. Another deviation from the many recipes out there, is her addition of orange liqueur to the strawberries. I decided not to spend the $12 on Grand Marnier, and didn’t miss it a bit. But if you have some at home, or you’re a fan of those flavors, go for it! For me, shortcakes are the perfect combination of the rich, flakiness of pie dough and the sweet, tenderness of cake. And they’re sooo easy to make! If I can do it so can you. I’ve added extra details, and make-ahead instructions, for the newbie bakers—to take out the...

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