Panna cotta

bookshelf cookery books

…let’s face it: Trota’s hardly going to get her entire archive onto that stingy stack of shelves… 

Panna cotta

panna cotta

Unfortunately (and with Salmon still under close management following the move debacle), there have been several full and frank exchanges about the cookbook collection…one favouring a strict edit-to-fit policy, the other a more, shall we say, inclusive approach.

Anyway, while sifting (as you do) through the precious cornucopia of culinary wisdom, Trota came across a gem that had long been overlooked: Anna Del Conte’s Classic Italian Recipes. A small book, but packed with the best traditional treats. Time for dessert? Then let it be a classic.

Naturally the selection falls on panna cotta. Traditionally from Piemonte and a very simple dessert, when done well it’s an absolute delight. For two portions you will need: 50ml full-fat milk, 150ml double cream, ½ vanilla pod, 30g caster sugar, 2 tbsp rum and 5g gelatine leaves.

Start by warming the milk and cream gently in a saucepan. Cut the vanilla pod, open and scrape the seeds, then add both seeds and pod to the mix. Now add the sugar and the rum and bring to a gentle simmer for 1min, stirring constantly. Take off the heat and allow to infuse for about an hour. Finally, strain into a clean bowl.

Put the gelatine leaves in a flat dish and cover with water. But check your sums first: the pack will tell you how many grams the total content is; from this, work out how many grams each gelatine leaf weighs. On average it’s 2–3g, so you are likely to need a couple of leaves or so.

When they have softened take them out of the water, squeeze well and put them in a cup, adding 2 tbsp boiling water. When completely dissolved, pour the liquid into the cream/milk mixture and stir well. Divide into two ramekins (or three smaller ones if you want to make some for Fidget too), cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for at least two hours (better still, overnight) until set.

When you are ready to serve, run a knife around the edges and place on the serving plate upside down for 5min, then give it a sharp shake and lift the ramekin off. Anna Del Conte suggests serving solo – so special this dessert is. But the Rowes went to town and added raspberries and – a cartoon kitchen favourite – a drizzle of mosto cotto (also known as sapa or saba).

Like panna cotta, good things come in small packages, so not a chance this little book will end up hidden among the others again. Dear Anna Del Conte, we have a special place for you in the new bookshelf: right at the front of the collection!