Neither lion nor lamb.
It’s a fickle fish this year, darting in one direction, then another, to the surface, then back under the weeds.
Cold clear days, warm foggy mornings, sweet springing afternoons, hail, snow, rain, mud, ice.
One day, a week ago, we had all the windows in the house open. Today, we’re back to having both wood stoves lit.
Closed-fisted buds. They’re not risking it yet.
It’s a little hard to be patient. Even when we know it’s coming. Even when the afternoon light gets longer by minutes every day.
But we can cheat. Let’s springify things around here a bit.
Let’s bring out those beautiful French dessert dishes, the ones with the bees.
Let’s pick out some ripe mangos and make a puree.
Let’s blend cream, goat milk, goat cheese, sugar, gelatin, and vanilla.
White as snow. But let’s teach it how to bloom like spring.
This month’s Let’s Lunch theme is Daffodils/Spring, in recognition of the Canadian Cancer Society’s annual Daffodil Days, when it sells daffodils to raise funds for the Cancer Society. This theme was suggested by this month’s gracious host, Karen at Geofooding. Visit her post for more information about Daffodil Days and for links to the rest of the Let’s Lunch group’s tributes to spring.
Goat cheese panna cotta with mango foam
Yield: Six or more servings (depending on the size of ramekins/dishes you use)
Goat cheese panna cotta
(adapted from Fine Cooking)
- 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (or 2 leaves of gelatin)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream (or 1 cup heavy cream and 1 cup light cream)
- 1 cup fresh goat cheese, at room temperature (I used plain chèvre)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup goat milk (or cow milk, or buttermilk)
- In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over four teaspoons of water to soften the gelatin (if you’re using gelatin leaves, follow the package’s instructions to soak the leaves.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the cream and sugar and bring to a simmer. Do not boil the mixture. When it reaches a simmer, turn off the heat.
- Whisk the softened goat cheese into the cream mixture, until there are no visible pieces of cheese left and the mixture is smooth.
- Add the vanilla and softened gelatin, whisking until the mixture is smooth. Then add the goat milk and whisk thoroughly.
- Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large, glass measuring cup or a bowl that has a pouring spout.
- Pour the mixture into six large or eight (or more) smaller ramekins. (If you want to unmold the panna cottas to serve them, lightly grease the ramekins before you pour the mixture into them).
- Refrigerate for at least three hours, or overnight.
Mango purée and foam
If you don’t have a whipper, or prefer not to use a foam, you can use just the mango purée on its own to decorate the panna cottas. For that matter, you can skip the mango altogether and use whatever fruits or embellishments that you prefer. I chose mango because I love the flavor and because the color reminded me of spring tulips and daffodils.
- 250 milliliters of mango purée (see instructions below)
- 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (or 1 leaf of gelatin)
- Make a mango purée by cubing two ripe mangos (you can also use two cups of frozen, cubed mango), and blending the cubed mango with 1 teaspoon of lime juice, three teaspoons of sugar, and 1/3 cup water. Strain the purée through a fine-mesh sieve. You want to make sure there are no lumps that could clog the whipper.
- In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over three teaspoons of water to soften the gelatin (if you’re using a gelatin leaf, follow the package’s instructions to soak the leaf).
- In a small saucepan, gently warm the purée (do not boil!), then add the softened gelatin to the warmed purée until it is thoroughly combined.
- Remove the purée from the heat and strain it one more time through a fine-mesh sieve to be sure there are no lumps of gelatin.
- Let the purée cool completely to room temperature.
- When the purée is cool, put it in the whipper, screw the whipper lid on, and charge with two gas chargers. Then SHAKE the whipper vigorously for a minute or so.
- Refrigerate the whipper for an hour, then shake vigorously again. You can use the foam now, or can return it to the refrigerator to use later. (Shake it again before using it.)
When the panna cottas are set and you’re ready to serve them, decorate them with the foam or the purées, fruits and sauces you choose.
To serve an unmolded panna cotta, heat a pan of water, dip the bottom of the ramekin in the warm water, run a sharp knife around the edge of the ramekin, put a plate over the ramekin, and flip the ramekin and plate over at the same time to unmold the panna cotta.