Thanks Campion and Curtis!

Thankyou to Allan Campion who included a link to this blog in his most recent Newsletter.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Five spiced pannacotta, with poached pears and dark palm sugar syrup.

Ok, I've realised there's no point anymore saying that these recipes are time consuming, because they all seem to take quite a while to put together. That's probably why they taste so damn good though. When you make 5 spice yourself, it tastes completely different to that stuff that you buy in powder form in the shops. I was a little unsure at first about infusing the 5 spice in the Panna Cotta, but if Ezard says it works, then I'll go along with it until I try it myself.

There are 3 parts to this one. There's the Panna Cotta, there's the poached pears and then there's the dark palm sugar syrup.

For the Panna Cotta you need to roast your spices for 5 minutes to bring out the aromas and then bash them up roughly in a mortar and pestle.

You then need to put the smashed spices into your milk and simmer over heat for about 10 minutes. Then leave it to infuse overnight. I didn't have time to leave it that long, so I left it about 10 minutes.

You then need to soak your gelatin leaves in cold water and place it in a bowl with sugar and honey. You then strain your milk into a bowl and then over the gelatin, sugar mixture. You can then re heat it all slightly so it all dissolves.

You then need to cool your mixture in the saucepan over a bowl of iced water until it is almost set. This happens within about 5 - 10 mins, so keep your eye on it. You then need to whip your cream and fold it into your milk mixture. As the cream is cold, it will thicken your mixture even more.
You can then pour the mixture into your panna cotta moulds and refrigerate until set.

You can now make your poaching liquid for your pears. The poaching liquid contains similar ingredients to 5 spice, but with some orange rind and and lots of palm sugar thrown in.

Peel your pears and cut them into quarters, you can keep them in 'lemon water' to keep them from darkening while you prepare your poaching liquid.

You then bring the poaching liquid to the boil and pop your pears in there. Simmer them gently until they're soft and tender.

Then let them cool in the liquid and then refrigerate until needed.

While this is all happening, you can make your dark palm sugar syrup. If you've ever made caramel, it's a very similar method. This takes about 10 mins or so.

Not only is it an expensive time to buy fish at Christmas, but trying to track down Persian Fairy Floss on Christmas eve is almost impossible. Normally I can get it for about $4ish. But all my regular shops were sold out, so I had to resort to The Essential Ingredient at the last minute and ended up paying $15 for 200g!! I have to admit, it has a much silkier texture than the stuff I buy cheaply. It was a yellow saffron flavour too, which I thought would go great with the dish.

Once you have had everything chilled in the fridge, you can serve it when you're ready. Tip the panna cotta onto a chilled plate (if you've been a good kid like me, you will have remembered to oil your panna cotta moulds with veg oil before you put the mixture in. Then cut your pears into 4 slices and surround the panna cotta with the pears. Then drizzle some syrup around the plate and top the panna cotta with the fairy floss.
This dish has amazing flavours, spicy, yet sweet, very sweet. The textures are amazing too. The softness of the panna cotta, the stickiness of the syrup and cold fruity spice of the poached pears. My fears of the 5 spice in the panna cotta faded very quickly with every mouthful, it was something like I'd never tasted before and the closest I can relate it to might be a kind of Chai Tea flavour. Definitely one to try!


Catty Pants said...

Wow, everything looks so good! Good on you for trying out all his recipes. Good luck for the rest of them and may I just say, how lucky your friends are :)

PS: You have just convinced me to got to Pearl and eat their Red Duck Curry -yummo!!

cookingchat said...

impressive! I had a good panna cotta the other night at a wonderful local restaurant, Craigie St. Bistrot. It was very different though, flavored with fennel.