Saturday, 10 August 2013

Lavender Scented Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta

I loathe the sort of panna cotta that you get in most restaurants, that over-sweetened, very firm, almost rubbery white sphere. For me, it should be soft and very wobbly, with only just enough gelatine to hold it together. I find the all-cream versions too heavy; the perfect ratio for me is half milk (full-fat of course) and half double cream. However, if you prefer a creamier version, just up the cream to 300 ml and reduce the milk to 200 ml. See the recipe for a note about the sugar too.

Lavender adds a delicate, flowery note that works well with the rich creaminess of the panna cotta and is ideal for summer. A more traditional one can be made by replacing the lavender with a teaspoon of good vanilla extract. I urge you to try making this. It takes just minutes to prepare and it's perfect for entertaining as it has to be made the day before and left in the fridge to chill. Also, everyone loves it, even those (like myself) who don't usually like panna cotta.

I'm entering this into the Tea Time Treats Challenge, with the theme of Ice-Creams, Jellies and Chilled Desserts, run by Karen of Lavender and Lovage  and Kate (this month's host) from What Kate Baked. 

As it uses lavender, I'm also sending this over to Karen from the wonderful Lavender and Lovage for her extremely popular challenge, Cooking with Herbs (formerly known as Herbs on Saturday).

Herbs on Saturday for June: Cooking with Herbs Challenge - Win a Pot of Culinary Lavender Grains


250ml double cream
250ml full-fat milk
60-70g caster sugar (I use 60g as I don't like it too sweet but you can increase the amount of sugar if you prefer)
4g gelatine leaves
1 teaspoon of dried lavender (usually labelled 'for culinary use')

Put the gelatine sheets in cold water to soak.

Put the milk, cream, lavender and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. When it's just about to boil, remove from the heat and leave for a few minutes for the lavender to infuse. Stir in the squeezed-out gelatine, then strain the mixture through a sieve to remove the lavender.

Pour into small moulds and leave to set in the fridge overnight. 

To serve, run a knife around the panna cotta before inverting onto a plate. Sprinkle some dried lavender over the top if you wish. 

Lavender Scented Panna Cotta

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The Eisteddfod is coming to town...

Image result for eisteddfod

There's a very festive feel here this week as the National Eisteddfod, an annual cultural celebration of poetry, music and literature, is being held just down the road from my house. The whole area seems to be participating, with bunting and flags flying from almost every building. 

Image result for eisteddfod Over 160,000 visitors are expected to descend on the Maes this week and the famous pink pavilion, Europe’s largest festival of competitive poetry and music, will welcome over 6,000 participants from across Wales. As well as the events on the main stage, there are also over 300 stalls and activities to explore, including a food hall with exhibitors from all over north Wales. This is what has inspired today's post - rather than a recipe, I've chosen three of my local food heroes to write about, all produced within an 8 mile radius from where I live. I haven't been asked to write about them, I've decided to showcase these products because their taste and quality mean that I use and buy them regularly. (See disclaimer below.)

Image result for eisteddfod

Patchwork Pâté 

Chicken Liver, Cointreau & Orange PâtéThis company was established by Margaret Carter in 1982 when she began selling her homemade pâté to pubs near her home. After five years, the number of customers had grown considerably and the business moved to a purpose-equipped factory in Ruthin. Despite the commercial scale today, everything is still hand-made in small batches, without artificial colouring, additives or preservatives, to Margaret’s original recipes.
Paté Iau Cyw Iar Afalau a Seidr Cymraeg - Chicken Liver Paté with Apple and Welsh CiderThe product is quite unlike any other commercially-produced pâté. The first difference is in the texture; Patchwork is soft and smooth, with no hint of the rubberiness that sometimes characterises other pâtés. The second difference can be seen in the variety and combination of flavours available. Purely personally, I like my pâté to have some alcohol in it, to contrast with the rich, meaty taste and Patchwork obligingly produces a vast range to choose from. My absolute favourite is the one seen in the photo above: Cointreau and Orange Chicken Liver Pâté. Beautifully balanced, the zesty orange tastes fresh and subtle against the savoury chicken livers. Other delicious flavours include Chicken Liver, Marmalade and Whisky; Welsh Dragon's Pâté (Venison Liver with Chilli); vegetarian Sun Dried Tomato Pâté with Welsh Mead and new this year, a pâté using local cider and apples, Paté Iau Cyw Iar Afalau a Seidr Cymraeg - Chicken Liver Paté with Apple and Welsh Cider. 

Llaeth y Llan - Village Dairy 

Plain and simpleThis family-run business has been producing probiotic yoghurt using local Welsh milk since the 1980s, from a farm nestling in the beautiful hills not far from Denbigh. The recipe has been perfected over the years and the beautifully thick and creamy yoghurt has won various awards including Gold Winner at the True Taste of Wales awards and a gold again at the 2013 Royal Welsh Show last month. There are thirteen flavours to choose from; Rhubarb, Gooseberry and Mandarin are personal favourites while their natural yoghurt is perfect for using in cooking. 

These beautiful, coloured, free range eggs have a deep orange yolk that I haven't found anywhere else. The farm, situated in the Vale of Clwyd, has been in the family since 1739 and all their eggs come from a variety of traditional breed hens who happily roam around the fields, truly free-range. Visitors are always welcome on the farm, to see first-hand how the hens are looked after. As you can see from the photos, you get seven, multi-hued eggs in every gorgeous box. 

Disclaimer: I was not sent any of these products, I have not been contacted by any of these companies and I have not been asked to write a review. I buy these things regularly and I simply chose to share my views and opinions here as I think that their products are excellent and I like the service standards and ethos of the companies.