Bake the Book: Chamomile Panna Cotta and Citrus Soup

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[Photograph: Djamel Dine Zitout]

One last wobbly dessert from Frenchie, and we'll be on our way. Here, a classic panna cotta is infused with chamomile tea and nestled in a bowl of carefully prepared citrus fruits floating in their own refreshing soup. The cool chamomile acts like a foil for the citrus, but is plenty palatable on its own, especially with the addition of fresh mint leaves. Consider it a last citrus-fueled hurrah before spring produce comes on the scene.

Tips: We've been remiss in not mentioning that every recipe in "Frenchie" contains notes for a wine pairing. The pairing suggested for Chamomile Panna Cotta? Sake. An unfiltered (cloudy) sake would go very well with the chamomile and citrus flavors, and would mimic the look of the panna cotta itself.

Tweaks: If we were to do this recipe over, we'd make a couple of changes. First, the flavor of the panna cotta. Chamomile is certainly different, and its herbal notes go well with citrus. But if we're to use tea to infuse the custard, why not mint? A minty-sweet panna cotta in citrus soup would be extra refreshing, and then the mint leaves used for garnish would further play up that flavor. Also, we'd omit the use of gelatin in the fruit soup: it makes sense as to why it was used, but it isn't quite soup with the gelatin included; it's more of a loose gelée.

If you don't plan to use gelatin in your citrus soup, there's no need to boil the kumquats as the recipe directs. The reason why the kumquats are heated through before using is to ensure the gelatin will set around them. Certain fruits, like pineapple, kiwi, and of course kumquat, contain bromelain, which prevents gelatin from setting.

As always with our Bake the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Frenchie to give away.

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