And, I can't help but lose hours at a time to Nigel Slater's gorgeous cookbook Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard at the moment – particularly the juicy section devoted to strawberries. For less-than-stellar berries, Slater recommends quartering and dusting the fruit with sugar and finely grated orange zest, then setting aside for an hour to mellow.
Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Strawberries
- 1 1/2 tsp. powdered gelatin
- 7 TBS sugar plus additional for tossing with strawberries
- 1 1/4 cups heavy (whipping) cream
- 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
- 1 vanilla bean, split longways (optional - you can get by without the vanilla bean)
- Strawberries – pile them on, the best you can find!
Place the gelatin in a small bowl and add 1 TBS cold water. Let the gelatin sit for 5 min. to soften.
Meanwhile, in a small pot, warm the cream and sugar over medium heat, whisking occasionally until sugar is dissolved. With the blade of a paring knife, scrape the vanilla pulp from both pod halves into the cream (reserve the pods for making vanilla sugar: put in a jar with a cup of sugar and keep in your cabinet). Whisk the gelatin into the cream until it is incorporated. Turn off the heat and add the buttermilk, then strain the whole mixture into a spouted measuring cup. Pour carefully into ramekins or pretty serving bowls and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours (or until firm) before serving.
About an hour before serving, slice the strawberries into halves or quarters and put in a bowl. Sprinkle with a little bit of sugar and let these sit at room temperature, stirring occasionally. When you're ready to serve the berries will have made their own sauce, which you can spoon with the strawberries over the panna cotta.
Happy trails, May!
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