Low GI Recipe: Whole wheat tortilla ginger tumeric tofu wrap with young spring peas

April 23, 2007 in diabetes, Food Porn, gluten, low glycemic index, recipe

tofu-450-1

I am continuing to explore [tag]low GI cooking[/tag] that not only appeals to me but also must pass the very rigorous and often fickle family test. I like to cook with [tag]tofu[/tag] but my 10 year old has decided she doesn’t like it while the rest of the family will eat it happily. When I set out to cook the above [tag]wrap[/tag] for yesterday’s lunch, I was aiming to make tofu in a way that my daughter likes and will eat because she has my body type and needs to develop better eating habits and likes. Previously, I have served her tofu, [tag]stir-fried[/tag] in many different ways, but never as part of a wrap like you see above. Its the [tag]tortilla[/tag] that I think made all the difference. Below, I am going to share my “recipe” for this relatively simple and very [tag]low GI[/tag] lunch and the results of the Family Voting Panel.

Even though you see various [tag]recipe[/tag]s posted here that doesn’t mean I am a recipe-following kind of cook. Its a strange dichotomy.. its more like I am a recipe creator because I want to share some of my ideas, not because I like recipes in and of themselves. I love [tag]cookbook[/tag]s, not because of the recipes so much as the photos, the anecdotes and the notes written by the author.

Because I do not do the recipe thing, I don’t go to the store with a list of things to buy. Rather, I go to the store and, within the budget, buy things that I find interesting. This makes the shopping trip last longer but I promise you, I spend less time shopping and cooking than the average [tag]Rachel Ray[/tag] fan spends watching her show on how to cook in the least amount of time (that has always seemed oxymoronic to me).

Sometimes, I come to the checkout with foods that the cashier has never seen someone buy. Thats sort of odd but I guess that the grocery store TRIES to have new and interesting things but probably many people do not deviate from their usual list.

La Tortilla Factory

In the most recent trip, I noticed a product I had not seen before (I was also shopping in a store far from my home and a new one at that, [tag]Hannafords[/tag]), [tag]La Tortilla Factory[/tag] low carbo low fat high fiber whole grain tortillas (they also have [tag]gluten-free[/tag] tortillas). I picked these up as an alternative to the white flour ones we tend to buy for [tag]quesadilla[/tag]s.

I bought them with some trepidation because when I have bought [tag]whole wheat[/tag] ones previously (different brands, not this one), I have been unhappy as those tortillas had several problems: they can be really dry or dry out very quickly or they can be really excessively gummy in an unpalatable way. I found these La Tortilla Factory tortillas to be hardy, able to retain their moisture during the foil-wrapped warming up process I put them through and also while sitting on the plate. They are not only tasty and a robust product, they are just fantastically good for you. They are high in fiber so that they have only 5 [tag]effective carbs[/tag] on board per tortilla.

There are a variety of ingredients in this wrap that are low GI, are tasty, and will be really good at inducing the “[tag]Second Meal Effect[/tag].”

Some of them are:

  • [tag]Soy beans[/tag] have a VERY low GI – something like 18. As you might imagine, [tag]tofu[/tag] is also very low in the [tag]glycemic[/tag] [tag]index[/tag], if any [tag]carbohydrate[/tag] at all.
  • [tag]Chickpea[/tag] [tag]Hummus[/tag] (with [tag]sesame[/tag] [tag]tahini[/tag]) has a [tag]GI[/tag] of 6!
  • Low Carb Low Fat Tortillas (5 effective carbs, not likely specifically tested yet
  • Fresh [tag]sweet pea[/tag]s have a GI of 3
  • The side of [tag]grapefruit[/tag] slices – GI is around 25.

I did not have to try very hard to put these ingredients together. I mostly went with what caught my eye at the store and what I have been [tag]craving[/tag].

One more note before I get to the recipe, I used tumeric in my tofu stir-fry. Like tofu, I tend to crave [tag]tumeric[/tag]. Not only is it amazing in it’s ability to perk up the color of any food but it is also deserving of your respect on the grounds that it is a potent [tag]medicinal[/tag] agent.

I am going to do a post on tumeric in the future but suffice it to say that tumeric is a very good thing to cook with. Anecdotally, but relevant to my life, I really feel an increased sense of well-being when I eat foods with it. I hope you will give it a try and also come back for the post on tumeric to learn more about this amazing spice.

Low GI whole wheat tortilla tofu wrap

[tag]Ingredients[/tag]:

  • Homemade hummus, made as you desire
  • La Tortilla Factory tortillas
  • 1 block extra firm organic tofu
  • 1/2 small spanish [tag]onion[/tag], sliced thinly
  • 1/8 teaspoon minced [tag]garlic[/tag]
  • 1 teaspoon sliced [tag]ginger[/tag] (leave in large chunks, remove at end)
  • 1/4 teaspoon tumeric
  • pinch of [tag]sea salt[/tag]
  • 3 tablespoons [tag]organic[/tag] [tag]soy sauce[/tag]
  • 1-2 tablespoons [tag]olive oil[/tag] (add sesame oil if you have it and like it) to saute
  • 1/2 C frozen sweet peas
  • fresh [tag]basil[/tag] leaves

Directions:

Turn the oven on to 200 F, wrap your tortillas in foil and warm them while you prepare everything else.

Rinse the tofu block and then wrap in paper towels. Put it on a cutting board and put another one on top. Put weights on the upper board to press out excess packing liquid. Watch the boards so that your weights do not fall off and scare the child, cat or dog that is at your feet in the kitchen. After about 20 minutes, unwrap the tofu and slice into cubes, set aside.

Make your hummus the way you prefer it and let it sit in the fridge, covered, while you make the rest of this. I make hummus like this: in a food processor dump in 2 cans organic chickpeas, 3 tablespoons sesame tahini, 3 tablespoons lemon or lime juice (or both!), pinch of sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic. Mix and then add a dribble of water until its the consistency you like it. I also added some basil leaves. Taste for seasoning and then store cold and covered.

In a low-medium heat saute pan add the olive oil, onions, ginger, and tumeric; heat through to begin cooking the onions. Turn up the heat to medium and add the garlic and then the tofu chunks. Saute until the tofu gets some color. Add the frozen peas and then add the soy sauce, allowing it to simmer down to a thicker sauce. Turn off the heat.

Take out one warmed tortilla, spread a layer of hummus, put down a laye of basil leaves, add the tofu stir-fry, wrap up, and enjoy!

I served this with a couple slices of sweet ruby red grapefruit and tangerine iced tea with sugar free ginger ale.

Results of the Family Tasting Panel:

  • The 10 year old LIKED it and wanted more, said it tasted like meat
  • The Husband said a similar thing and that it was pretty filling
  • The 3 year old said “Mommy, can I have some more please?”

Ingredient Information:

Sites of Interest:

Related Posts:

Pre-Diabetes and low glycemic cooking

April 18, 2007 in chicken, diabetes, Food Porn, ingredient, Japanese, low glycemic index, product, recipe

Bhutanese red rice onigiri with tofu and split peas

([tag]Bhutanese[/tag] [tag]red rice[/tag] [tag]onigiri[/tag] with [tag]tofu[/tag] and [tag]split pea[/tag] puree, [tag]recipe[/tag] towards the end of this post)

Today’s post is going to have multiple personalities. I am going to cover three main topics:

  • [tag]Low Glycemic Cooking[/tag] and why I care
  • A recipe for the Bhutanese red rice onigiri you see above
  • A how-to on making onigiri with my new [tag]gadget[/tag] – an onigiri form

Low Glycemic cooking and why I care

As a general rule, I respect everyone’s right to their own eating styles. I care that people eat the way they need to and I am no one to nit-pick others for that. My story that follows is like many of you. I can not say I have any answers and I am not an expert. I am sharing this story so that you can understand how I got into my current predicament – I am [tag]pre-diabetic[/tag], according to my [tag]doctor[/tag].

Like most of the over-developed world, I have had to [tag]diet[/tag] from an early age. Even though I swam 4 miles a day for two different swim teams, I still had to watch what I ate. When I decided that the swimming was more than I could bear anymore I decided to quit at the end of freshman year (4:30 am every day for the State National team and after school every day for the high school team, I never stopped smelling of chlorine and my hair was blond at it’s tips – I have blue black hair mind you).

Then, the weight FLEW on my body. At the tender age of 16 I was on [tag]Nutri/System[/tag]. I lost 50 lbs and was down to 117 lbs (was 5’5″, have shrunk since then). I was sort of happy but my body wasn’t. When I went back to school that fall, I went back to regular food and the [tag]weight[/tag] came back. Over the many years since, I have done Nutri/System many times, [tag]Weight Watchers[/tag] many times, all the while, killing my [tag]metabolism[/tag]. The only times when I maintained a loss after these diets was when I was working out excessively, running 3 miles a day and barely eating. In more recent times, I have tried the [tag]Atkins[/tag] diet (I saw my grandma try it back in the early 80s with some success) and it worked but it was [tag]unsustainable[/tag]. After a while, you can honestly get sick and tired of butter, bacon, steak, eggs, essentially any high protein food. The worst thing about the [tag]low carb[/tag] high protein diet is the imbalance in something about one’s hydration (must be the ketosis) such that when one goes off of this diet, the weight (both water and fat) comes back quickly and with a depressing vengeance.

This has always seemed unfair to me because my dad and my little sister literally eat what ever they wish (or wished, my dad has passed away) and never get or got fat. So within my own family, there is the object lesson that if one’s body is [tag]genetically predisposed[/tag] to accumulate fat, IT WILL.

In recent times, I have had to make peace with my body and not let the fat twist my entire self-worth. That is a very hard process and I would not say I had complete success. Doing this food blog and also, especially, doing the [tag]food photography[/tag] has helped me in ways that may not be intuitive. When I do food photography (and the cooking for it), I am not eating the food and I am not craving it. (I have never been obsessive about eating food nor binged on it so I do not have that dynamic) When I am cooking, styling, and shooting, I appreciate the food as an art form, as shapes, composition, as artistic statement, as cultural statement, as a sharing of my identity or my process of discovery. Same thing with the writing. I can not help writing about food the way I do because my curiosity leads me to ask questions and learn, just for the sake of learning. This is a bit of overflow from the fact that we homeschool and life is about learning.

insulin hexamer

([tag]Insulin[/tag] hexamer: Wikipedia source – public domain)

All of this is fine and dandy but my doctor recently witnessed one of my [tag]hypoglycemic[/tag] episodes (have had them all my life, thin or fat), tested my [tag]blood sugar[/tag] which was fine, and so he sent out blood tests for something called the [tag]HbA1c test[/tag] ([tag]hemoglobin[/tag] [tag]A1c[/tag] [tag]test[/tag] or hemoglobin [tag]glycosylation[/tag] – an [tag]assay[/tag] that determines the amount of [tag]sugar[/tag]s that have been stuck on the hemoglobin molecules.. this is indicative of the levels of sugar in one’s [tag]blood[/tag] over a few months). The following is a down to earth description of this assay.

“Sugar in the bloodstream can become attached to the hemoglobin (the part of the cell that carries oxygen) in [tag]red blood cell[/tag]s. This process is called glycosylation (pronounced gli-kos-a-lay’-shen). Once the sugar is attached, it stays there for the life of the red blood cell, which is about 120 days. The higher the level of blood sugar, the more sugar attaches to red blood cells. The hemoglobin A1c test measures the amount of sugar sticking to the hemoglobin in the red blood cells. Results are given in percentages.” Diabetes Tool Box

For those of you who are more scientifically oriented, try this abstract:

“Glucose reacts nonenzymatically with the NH2-terminal amino acid of the beta chain of human hemoglobin by way of a ketoamine linkage, resulting in the formation of hemoglobin AIc. Other minor components appear to be adducts of glucose 6-phosphate and fructose 1,6-diphosphate. These hemoglobin s are formed slowly and continuously throughout the 120-day life-span of the red cell. There is a two- to threefold increase in hemoglobin AIc in the red cells of patients with diabetes mellitus. By providing an integrated measurement of blood glucose, hemoglobin AIc is useful in assessing the degree of diabetic control. Furthermore, this hemoglobin is a useful model of nonenzymatic glycosylation of other proteins that may be involved in the long-term complications of the disease.” The glycosylation of hemoglobin: relevance to diabetes mellitus. HF Bunn, KH Gabbay, and PM Gallop. Science 1978: 200(4337):21 – 27.

Mine came back 6.2, which seems to indicate pre-diabetes and a cause of concern for my doc. I can tell you that I have figured I was [tag]pre-diabetic[/tag] for a long time but every time I asked for tests, they came back negative (they never gave me the glycosylation test before). My doc has told me that I have three months to control the blood sugars and if I do not, I will have to go on meds. I have a natural dislike for meds so it was not good news!

I know that [tag]diabetes[/tag] is absolutely nothing to mess around with and I want to reverse this pre-diabetic thing with whole foods and moderate exercise. Let me tell you though, when you start looking at what is recommended for the diabetic diet you find one commonality: there is NO [tag]consensus[/tag]. I also found that diet recommendations for diabetes and pre-diabetes seems to be a dumping ground for ALL of the vague advice, all that stuff you have heard over the years and found didn’t work for you. Things like: Eat food X because so and so study says to! Yikes. Things like: eat only low fat foods, eat only fish, eat TONS of [tag]omega-3[/tag]s, eat no fish, eat no carbs, eat only a few carbs, eat .. yadda yadda yadda.

Excuse me, but I am getting flash backs and they are not fun ones. I despair at the mediocrity and vagueness of the diet recommendations one finds for this condition. Its all a recipe for unsustainablity. Food is inherently associated with the desire to become satiated, even if it is through food porn.

If my life is on the line, I want something more than the flavor-of-the day [tag]diet recommendation[/tag]s.

I want some metrics.

This is where the low glycemic cooking comes in. I am going to explain this quickly because I have already yammered on WAY too long.

glucose

(Glucose: Wikipedia source – public domain)

The word “[tag]glycemic[/tag]” in “[tag]glycemic index[/tag]” comes from the word glucose, which you may know is sugar. A glycemic index is a measure of sugar. In this case, its the measure of sugars released into the bloodstream after the ingestion of a certain food. To determine a glycemic index, they have people drink a solution of 50 gm of glucose in water and then, after a certain period of time, they pull blood and test the sugar content of the blood. They set this value to an arbitrary 100. It is the index against which other foods are compared. To determine the GI of a food, like white bread, they gather a group of test subjects (people) who eat a slice of bread and then get the blood tested. They average the results (each person has their own unique food processing profile but we tend to have similar ones, within some sort of predictable range of variability) and then set the GI for white bread according to the results (its 70 for [tag]white bread[/tag] produced in the US). They have tested 500 foods so far (its very expensive), tho you may come across foods in the store that claims to have a GI, it is likely not tested in humans but calculated predicated on the types of ingredients it has. Thats the rub, foods may be predicted to have a certain GI but the body may do something completely different with it.

Case in point would be white rice, sticky jasmine especially, which has a GI higher than glucose. This is because this rice is almost pure starch and starch, when it hits our bodies, is almost instantly broken down and dumped into our blood as sugars (there are enzymes in your saliva, namely amyloses, which start the process the moment you put the rice in your mouth). The sugars in the glucose solution are somewhat slower to pass into the bloodstream.

When you eat something with a high GI, like that rice in [tag]sushi[/tag] or similar starchy foods, almost the entirety of that mass of starch goes into your blood like a race car, as a bolus in medical speak. You might as well inject several milliliters of sugar straight into your veins. Why is this a problem? Your body as not evolved to handle huge boluses of sugar. It “scrambles” to pull the sugar out (insulin is the messenger to the cells to let the sugar inside) because high sugar in the blood is “toxic” to the vessel walls, causing damage over time. When this happens and the body has put out insulin enough to deal with this sugar overload, it overshoots and then blood sugars drop. Low blood sugar is bad news too because the one organ in your body that is a sugar-freak is your brain. Low blood sugar equals stress to the brain and even [tag]coma[/tag] and [tag]death[/tag].

The key to a healthy body and a healthy life lies in one huge word – BALANCE.

Eating [tag]high GI[/tag] foods pushes your system out of balance. Over time, with a diet consistent in sugar [tag]bolus[/tag]es, your insulin response becomes impaired and you develop pre-diabetes and then diabetes and then your systems begin to fail.

I am going to begin to integrate low GI cooking into my family’s diet. We all need to lose weight too so the diet will also tend towards less fat but I do not want to be a fat nazi. I also do not want to be the food nazi either. I want the family to enjoy the food while also, hopefully, appreciate trying new foods and in the end, lose some weight.

If you are interested in doing this there are several things to do: learn about GI, learn about the GI rankings of your favorite foods, access your diet, find a way to do some [tag]exercise[/tag] every day (walking lowers your blood sugar, another tool in your management of sugar-rich living).

Learning:

I went to Amazon and got these two books below, there are MANY others. You will have to decide whats right for you. In the future, I am going to try to give lists of relevant blogs, for your educational pleasure.

There is A LOT more to learn, especially about glycemic loads and how protein rich foods have high GIs. Read and read some more.

GI ranking:

The authors of the GI book above also have a fantastic website that will help you understand GI but also to find your favorite foods (if tested) in their GI database.

Diet tracking:

If you are so inclined, you can track your food intake and calorie expenditure over time at various websites. The only one I have experience with is Fit Day.

I wish you all the luck if you too are having to deal with this. Its a process, it can be depressing, it can be overwhelming but it can not be ignored.

Bhutanese red rice onigiri with tofu and split peas

Recipe: Bhutanese red rice onigiri with tofu and split pea puree

In our family, we eat potatoes (high GI) only rarely. We tend to eat rice as our starch. The problem with that is that white rice (sticky is my all time favorite) is very bad when it comes to GI. To keep rice in our diet, an easy peasy starch, I am going to introduce rices that are lower GI. This would include brown rice, red rice, and wild rice. It also means introducing rice-like alternatives like pearl barley and bulgar wheat.

rice

(The Rice Plant: Wikipedia source – public domain)

The GI rankings for several types of rices (and alternatives) are:

  • Jasmine rice, made in rice cooker 109
  • White rice, boiled 45
  • Brown rice, steamed 50
  • Red rice 59
  • Wild rice 54
  • Pearl barley, boiled 35
  • Bulgar wheat 47

I picked up some Bhutanese red rice (produced by Lotus Foods) recently and wanted to test it in a recipe where I would have normally used sticky jasmine rice.

Bhutanese red rice is:

“An ancient colored-bran short-grain rice grown 8,000 feet in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. Irrigated with 1,000 year old glacier water rich in trace minerals, this exotic rice has a nutty/earthy flavor, soft texture and beautiful red russet color.” SOURCE

Lotus Foods has lots of very interesting wholesome products as well.

Visit the Lotus Foods site for more information.

I decided to make onigiri, a Japanese food that is essentially a ball of rice with one’s favorite bits added to it. Often, it is wrapped with nori but I didn’t have any on hand so I used, as a substitute, the Vietnamese rice paper used to make spring rolls (spring roll wrappers).

I also served tofu (essentially zero GI) and a split pea puree (25 GI) to increase the green and protein.

Ingredients:

  • 1 C Lotus Foods Bhutanese red rice
  • 3 C cold water
  • sea salt, pinch
  • 1 spring roll wrapper
  • basil leaf, sliced into ribbons
  • black and white sesame seeds
  • Roasted chicken slices, about an ounce
  • extra firm tofu, cubed
  • olive oil to saute
  • minced ginger
  • minced garlic
  • sea salt, pinch
  • 1 C green split peas
  • 4 C cold chicken stock
  • sea salt, pinch

Directions:

In a heavy stock pot put 1 C red rice and 3 C cold water, bring to a boil. Cover rice and put on low for about 1 hour. This will cook it longer than the package directions so that the grains pop a bit and the rice is easier to form later. When done, uncover, fluff, and allow to cool.

At the same time, put 1 C dried split peas in 4 C cold chicken stock, bring to a boil, and then simmer on low (loose cover) for about an hour. You may need to remove some of the liquid toward the end to make the puree your desired thickness. Keep warm but covered.

Once rice is cooked, spoon some into an onigiri form, leaving some room for the chicken slices in the middle. I have some pictures of the onigiri form below.

This type comes in two halves and this one makes two onigiri at the same time.

Onigiri form

The top is pushed down over the rice, compressing it into the cake like shape desired.

Onigiri form

The bottom half of this form has some little openings that you can use to push the onigiri out.

Onigiri form

Using this mold transforms onigiri construction into a dream. To see how you make onigiri by hand visit this site – How to make onigiri.

Because I did not have the nori to wrap the onigiri, I improvised and added a strip of hydrated spring roll wrapper around it. This isn’t necessary but I wanted to approximate it. I trapped some basil leaf ribbons and black sesame seeds between the wrapper strips and the rice.

Wrap your tofu block in some paper towels and press with something heavy to remove some of the water it comes packed in. Cube the tofu and cook as you like. The way I like is with some oil (sesame or olive oil or both), some garlic, ginger, and some onions. I saute to get some tan color and then add some soy sauce. I simmer the tofu a bit longer and then serve warm.

Serve as desired and enjoy!

Bhutanese red rice onigiri with tofu and split peas

Products of Interest:

Books of Interest:

Sites of Interest:

Envelope yourself in the creamy world of the Italian panna cotta

April 10, 2007 in cheese, cookbook, Food Porn, Paper Palate, pork, recipe, vegetable, Well Fed Network

 

(This post will appear on the [tag]Paper Palate[/tag] blog, a member of the [tag]Well Fed Network[/tag])

 

Panna Cotta cover image

Book review of [tag]Camilla V. Saulsbury[/tag]‘s [tag]Panna Cotta: Italy’s Elegant Custard Made Easy[/tag]

I had never heard of [tag]panna cotta[/tag] before I saw it made on Iron Chef a few years ago. I obviously do not frequent many [tag]Italian[/tag] restaurants, mainly because I live in an Italian restaurant wasteland where white dinner rolls (you know, the kind that you buy at Stop and Shop ready to pop in the oven to “bake”) are served along with bologna antipastos (practically right out of the grocery store packaging). No, you can bet panna cotta will not be on any local menus.

Seeing it made on [tag]Iron Chef[/tag] is a very different thing than making it yourself. I actually never had a hankering for it until I agreed to review “Panna Cotta: Italy’s Elegant Custard Made Easy” by Camilla V. [tag]Saulsbury[/tag] and I am so glad that I decided to try a panna cotta on for size. I recommend this type of food and this cookbook in particular to both beginning cooks and the more experienced. You will not be disappointed.

First, let me tell you about the most fundamental lesson I learned from this book – panna cotta is extremely easy to make. You are essentially making a custard-like concoction without any [tag]egg[/tag]s. You do this by replacing their eggy magic with powdered [tag]gelatin[/tag].

The cover is fantastic, a raspberry vibrancy that sets off a poppy seed panna cotta to excellent effect. If you are visually cued like I am, you will be drawn in by the cover, [tag]seduce[/tag]d into exploring the [tag]panna[/tag] [tag]cotta[/tag].

In it’s mere 128 pages, this book packs in quite a lot of fantastic information about what panna cotta is (literally means [tag]cooked cream[/tag]), the fundamentals of making a panna cotta, and a treasury of [tag]recipe[/tag]s that will definitely inspire you to try a few out.

Just inside the front cover, the book has several pages of color photographs that depict some of the recipes. These are not as beautiful as the cover but they serve to illustrate the variety of panna cotta forms and presentation possibilities.

The introduction provides an excellent grounding in panna cotta [tag]First Principles[/tag]. Do not skip this chapter because it will give you the basic understanding of this eggless custard that you can then use to [tag]design[/tag] you own creations.

The recipes are organized into six chapters:

  • Top-10 Panna Cotta Favorites
  • Chocolate, Caramel, & Spice
  • Fruit Panna Cotta
  • Spirited Panna Cotta
  • Enlightened Panna Cotta
  • Savory Panna Cotta

In the “Top-10″ chapter, you will find recipes like [tag]vanilla bean[/tag], [tag]PB&J[/tag], toasted coconut, cinnamon panna cotta and others.

Chapter Two has quite a few tempting recipes, such as mayan chocolate, pink [tag]peppercorn[/tag] (sweet!), cannoli, chai, and five-spice & honey panna cotta. There will certainly be a dessert there for everyone in your family.

Chapter Three explores the use of fruits such as mango, [tag]hachiya[/tag] [tag]persimmon[/tag], [tag]roasted pear[/tag], and even sweet [tag]pumpkin[/tag]!

As you might have expected, the “Spirited Panna Cotta” Chapter (Four) delves into recipes that use alcohol, recipes such as late harvest [tag]reisling[/tag], [tag]mint julep[/tag], [tag]limoncello[/tag] & mint, and even white chocolate amaretto panna cotta.

Chapter Five, “Enlightened Panna Cotta,” provides “lighter” versions with ingredients such as evaporated fat free milk and reduced fat sour cream in decadent sounding recipes like ricotta-honey, cafe brulot and linzer panna cotta.

In the final recipe chapter, “Savory Panna Cotta,” Saulsbury gives recipes for the panna cottas which I personally find the the most attractive. With recipes for butternut squash, [tag]porcini[/tag], [tag]asparagus[/tag], cauliflower and [tag]gorgonzola[/tag] panna cotta, you will impress friends and family with flavorful and unexpected appetizers that can really set the scene for a memorable dinner.

Saulsbury is able to, in a very small number of pages, put you on track to making your own panna cottas and encourages you to strike out on new paths, exploring your own part of the pana cotta universe. I found her writing encouraging to the uninitiated, namely me, and I soon found myself innovating a new recipe on my first time out of the panna cotta gate.

I would recommend this book to any of my friends and family and I look forward to trying out more of these recipes.

What follows is my first panna cotta, inspired by Saulsbury’s Thyme [tag]Goat Cheese[/tag] panna cotta. The family, from toddlers, pre-teens, to adults, all loved this savory [tag]appetizer[/tag].

(Copyright 2007 Nika Boyce)

Basil Ginger Goat Cheese Panna Cotta by Nika Boyce

(Inspired by Saulsbury’s own Thyme Goat Cheese Panna Cotta found on page 124)

Makes 12 or so mini panna cottas with some left over for the cook.

Instead of the many tempting sweet panna cottas featured in this book, I chose to make a savory one. Saulsbury has several very tempting recipes for savories such as summer corn panna cotta, asparagus panna cotta, avocado panna cotta and many more. I adapted her recipe for thyme goat cheese panna cotta because I didn’t have the exact same ingredients that she called for. Instead of heavy cream, I used half and half. Instead of thyme, I used basil. I also added ginger because I seem to want to add ginger to everything these days and I wanted to see how it would do in this setting. Ginger, for me, was a wonderful addition.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • ginger, small 1/8 inch thick slice that is not minced but left whole
  • several basil leaves, tear by hand into small pieces
  • 8 oz [tag]goat[/tag] [tag]cheese[/tag] [tag]chevre[/tag], cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/4 C half and half
  • 1/2 C sour cream
  • 2 slices hardwood smoked bacon, fried until crispy, allow to cool
  • 1/2 red delicious apple
  • 2 crimini mushrooms, medium size and sliced
  • 2 large [tag]basil[/tag] leaves for presentation
  • sea salt

Directions:

Add the powdered gelatin to the 3 tablespoons of warm water and set aside to allow the water to be absorbed, at least 5 minutes.

In a heavy pot, bring the half and half, ginger slice, and basil leaves up to a simmer (over the lowest heat that will get you there), remove from the burner and add the gelatin. Mix until the gelatin is dissolved. Using a whisk, incorporate the goat cheese and then the sour cream.

I used a mini-muffin tin that I had coated with a good olive oil. I poured the panna cotta mix into this tin and then put it into the refrigerator overnight. Saulsbury suggests at least 4 hours.

I served this up two different ways. Not shown was how I had poured some of the excess mixture into a medium size baking cup. The next day I just stuck a spoon in to spread the panna cotta on matzos, very delicious and not fussy at all. The dry matzo and the rich panna cotta spread are a hit in this house now.

The photos show the second way I served this. I slowly fried some hardwood smoked bacon slices in a cast iron pan. I set those aside and sauted several apple slices and also diced apple and allowed them to drain and cool. I also lightly sauted some crimini slices. I assembled them, as show, with some basil leaves as the base, the panna cotta, a dribble of olive oil, a slice of apple (with the peel for color), a slice of mushroom, a bit of apple and bacon dice, and then long slices of the bacon for flair. The bacon, apple, and mushroom eaten with the panna cotta are a unctuous mix of savory, sweet, tart, and creaminess. Try to allow all garnishes to cool as hot items may just make your panna cotta melt.

(Copyright 2007 Nika Boyce)

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Buttermilk pancakes with Korean pears in syrup and hickory smoked bacon

April 1, 2007 in breakfast, cooking, Food Porn, fruit, ingredient, recipe

A couple of days ago, I did the “on black” shoot where some pears saw the light. Those [tag]pear[/tag]s were also part of our [tag]breakfast[/tag] yesterday.

I found some delightful Bob’s Red Mill buttermilk pancake mix I wanted to try out and it made some amazing [tag]pancake[/tag]s.

I sliced one [tag]Korean[/tag] pear and two of the smaller pears of unknown global origin (I forgot, in other words), put the slices in a saute pan, added about 1 tablespoon [tag]butter[/tag], a dribble of [tag]olive oil[/tag], about two teaspoons [tag]cream of coconut[/tag], 1/3 cup white sugar, and let it simmer on medium low for about 20 minutes.

I let it go until the pears released their goodness and the liquid reduced to an almost recrystallized sauce that had the slightest bit of odd bite to it (from the nascent sugar particles). This went so well with the pancakes.

I show it here with just the pears and syrup but also added Vermont maple syrup to the servings for the other family members.

[tag]Bacon[/tag] would go well as a side to old tires, let alone these delicious pancakes.

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