Monday, June 24, 2013

Bring on the Summer

     I love summer time. BBQ, bonfires and beer. Getting together over good food at the cottage, by the pool or just on a sunny deck is the best way to spend the lazy summer days. Key word Lazy.

     Just because it's easy doesn't mean you have to look like a slacker. This recipe comes together in only 10 minutes, is really forgiving and is at home at your finest soiree or the most casual back yard barbecue. Sounds to good to be true? Read on.

     What I'm talking about is the Italian dessert Panna Cotta, translation "cooked cream". Five ingredients, 10 minutes and you look like a star. Bonus, you get to throw around fancy Italian dessert names.

     I like mine potted (still in a container) and just set. A spoonful is like silk across the tongue. I've tried a few different recipes but this is the one I like the best, a very slightly modified version of Judy Witts recipe from Secrets of My Tuscan Kitchen. My version isn't solid enough to unmold.

Click on the picture to enlarge
I'm trying something new with the format
Not sure it's a keeper

     This recipe makes a lot, bonus, is easy, huge bonus, can be served plain, can be endlessly modified, is gluten free, can be dairy free or vegan and is quite forgiving.

     Here are my prep notes. 

Prepare 5 -8 custard cups - Take them out of the cupboard. I don't plate mine so no need to oil the cups.

By the time the cream is heated the gelatin has usually plumped up. If not don't worry. You've got a good window of time to work. Because you aren't setting the cream with eggs like a custard, precise timing isn't a concern. As long as the cream is hot enough to dissolve the gelatin you're good.

 I plump up the gelatin in a large Pyrex 8 cup measuring cup. It's easy to pour into the ramekins after you add the heated cream mixture and I'm all about easy.

The 35% cream is rich. Because you are setting with gelatin you can use just about any liquid, table cream-18%, half and half - 10%, soy milk, almond milk. You may need to tweek the exact amount of gelatin to set it the way you like. I would go with more to start, then reduce it a 1/4 teaspoon at a time. My four teaspoons to four cups of liquid is a really soft set. The original recipe calls for 4 1/2 teaspoons.

Because you aren't baking, the sugar is only a flavour. You can substitute, increase, decrease, omit. What ever tickles your taste buds.

For the vegetarians swap agar ( agar-agar) for the gelatin.

The one above is topped with Strawberry Rhubarb Compote. Another easy recipe.
1 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb
1 1/2 cups chopped strawberries
1/4 cup of sugar- adjust to taste
1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to prevent scorching.
Reduce heat and simmer until you reach your desired thickness

Top yours with whatever you like or just enjoy it plain. 

Here is a link to a great site for more information on variations and another recipe.

     An easy dessert so you can get out and enjoy the summer sun. Any other quick and easy favourites? Feel free to share.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Picture Perfect?

     Happy Monday, the first official one of summer, my favourite time of year. Time to link up with Stasha. Our topic this week, top 10 photographs you've taken.

     I love taking pictures. I have a huge family and I drag my camera to all the gatherings. I also suck at taking pictures. Missing heads, disembodied limbs, out of focus then there is this

Typically blurry photo at my grandmother's 85th

For the record, my aunt has a beautiful smile with all her teeth
Nor does she look like a cast member of the Walking Dead

     I don't really have 10 best photos, so I'm going on a little tangent. I promise it's photo related. It's what I was doing this morning.

     I'm in the middle of planning a trip to Italy for my friend's wedding, trying to post a little more so people know I'm alive, working on the house, cooking so of course there are pictures to document the progress or the lack there of. I haven't done a recipe post in months and I wanted to share one of the best summer recipes ever. Bring on the camera.

I envisioned something like this

Looks tasty right?

Maybe something like this?

I'd have been happy with this
Great Halloween dessert option right?

     Taking pictures of food is hard. I'm always in awe of people who post drool inspiring picture after picture of their culinary exploits.

     I assembled my props and headed outside to snap some pictures. Natural light is best so they say and it finally has stopped with  the thunder and lightening.

Unusual plate for visual interest
A little elevation ( I can crop that)
At eye level like you see food at a table

Maybe an over head view?

Ditch the ugly plate
Excellent reflection of me in the spoon

Maybe a location change?

To hell with it, I'll take a picture of the fountain instead
Almost got the whole thing, sigh

Maybe the primroses Mom gave me. 

      It's 30 degrees, my subject is melting, I'm going inside to eat. There is only so much I'm willing to suffer for my art. That does not include ruining a perfectly good dessert. After some cropping and trying to fix the exposure I ended up with this.

Not too shabby, right?
Just a touch of the Etruscan terracotta detailing behind
Simple, a little rustic

Which after several hours I turned into this.
I'll do the real recipe post tomorrow
This one has already gotten a little long

     One picture, six hours. I don't have time for 10. LOL

Come join me at Stasha's to see what everyone else has been snapping.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Gone too soon?

     Hello again, it's Monday already. Time to make a list and link up with Stasha. This week, a list of 10 television shows that were cancelled too soon. Great topic Jen.

     Episodic television isn't my forte, I'd much rather watch a movie or an entire season at a time. I forget what night it's on, two shows I like are on at the same time, then of course there are the split seasons, short seasons, premiere episode and the season follows six weeks later or of course the next season has an entirely different cast and plot line. I get confused. As a a matter of fact, as I was getting the list together I found out some of the shows I like aren't in a different time slot or on hiatus, they are in fact cancelled.

     So which 10?

     I like my comedies idiotic. Over the top, flat out ridiculous and absurd.

1 Todd and the Book of Pure Evil
So bad it was brilliant.  Loved this Canadian teen angst/horror/comedy.

2 Pee Wee's Playhouse
Paul Reubens is a comedic genius. Laurence Fishburne as Cowboy Curtis? How can you not have loved this show?

3 Absolutely Fabulous
Eddie and Patsy together, BBC at it's best. French and Saunders put out a lot of great comedies but this is my favourite.

4 Soap
The hilarious antics of the Tates and the Campbells

     I also love a good mystery. By that I mean one that doesn't give it away in the first 10 minutes.

5 Sherlock
Now this isn't cancelled but with only 10 episodes in two seasons, good luck trying to find it to watch it.

     Time for a genre switch

6 Space 1999
The sci fi show that started it all for me way back in the '70s (like you couldn't tell)

7 Stargate Universe
Loved the original, and Atlantis but this one still had stories to tell.

8 Sliders
This one had a pretty good run but I would have watched another 5 seasons. Maybe a movie like they did with....

9 Firefly
Joss, how could you let this happen? Although you did do a kick ass movie. We want more.

10 Tru Calling
Ever since Buffy, I've loved Eliza Dushku. I really wanted this to fly but would have been happy with Dollhouse as well. Poor Eliza, just never quite caught on.

     What do you wish was still on the tube?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Beauty, eh

     I missed last week, back to the farm for my aunt and uncle's 50th wedding anniversary. Had a blast, huge turn out, got to see the clan, swam (brrr), had a bonfire, helped my grandmother, aunt and mom clean their respective rhubarb patches, hunted for wild leeks (ramps) to make pickles. Busy , busy, busy.

     I saw this week's topic and was going to pass. I'm more the wash and wear kind these days, what do I know of beauty tools? As I was reading what you notice when you first meet someone, of course I read Wayne's entry over at Touristic. My list practically wrote itself.

     I turned to my fellow Canadians for a list of 10 tools essential to get along here in the Great White North.

1 Church key
As you can see they come in an assortment of shapes and sizes. Essential to have an opener for your beer. We don't call it the May two four for nothing.

2 Lighter
A close second to the church key. Good for lighting your smokes, bonfires and in a pinch an alternate  church key. Every good Canuck can MacGuyver a way to open a beer.

3 Toque
Not only the one fashion accessory you need here in the Great White North, it  doubles as a useful survival tool to keep warm during our 12 months of winter.

4 Snow shovel
After all it snows year round (or at least it feels like it)

5 Snow mobile (or skidoo as we call them)

Jimmy, Sally, Suzy that fiery redhead and I off to work

Jimmy takes his snowmobiling seriously

6 Snow shoes
In case the skidoo won't start.

These are a little old school

These are a little more like it

7 Chesterfield, no Canadian home is complete without one. 

It's where we sit and watch...

8 Hockey
To fit in you'll need sticks, skates, the whole kit.

You can never have too many

Or start too young

     Being the melting pot we are, I decided to look around and see what others had to say. Number 9 is courtesy of first generation Canadian comedian Russell Peters.

9 Barbecue

From the humble half barrel

to Jimmy's tricked out ride,
We love our BBQ

No Canadian list would be complete without it so number 10 comes via our national treasure, Red Green

10 Duct Tape

It's never muffled me but.....
     There is one final tool you need if you truly want to get along here in Canada.

That's right, to get along in the Great White North, don't forget to pack your "U". It's our favourite. 

Beauty, eh.