It all started with the honey-yogurt panna cotta. I wanted something light and creamy and had a lot of yogurt on hand so the idea to make this luscious and refreshing pudding was a natural. Panna cotta is an Italian pudding usually made with cream (after all, its name translates to “cooked cream”) and is set with gelatin as opposed to eggs or a starch. The recipe I used does not eliminate the cream but instead uses yogurt for a big part of the dairy in the base. The tang and lighter mouth-feel from the yogurt makes for a delightful dessert. The recipe I used is based on this Honey-Yogurt Panna Cotta from Martha Stewart.
Pineapple, for some reason, was the first ingredient that came to mind to accompany the panna cotta. At first I wanted to dice and quickly sautee the fruit with butter and sugar. Then I figured I’d make it more substantive by quickly pan grilling and butter basting thick rings of pineapple. That’s when I remembered Thomas Keller’s pineapple ‘chop’ dessert from “The French Laundry” cookbook. It sounds weird but it makes perfect sense and looks fantastic. The idea is to cut the pineapple in a way it would resemble a small rack of meat with bones attached (pictures really help with this). Really, it’s very natural to cut the pineapple like that by splitting it in half, removing the core and half of the pineapple flesh. The pineapple rack is cooked much like a meat rack, it’s seared in butter and vanilla, roasted in the oven for a while till golden brown. Before serving, the pineapple is reheated in a light caramel and basted continuously before trimming and dividing up into thick “chops”.
The last two components both involved pistachios. I made pistachio cookies that are inspired by French sable cookies. These are rich, crumbly and have excellent pistachio flavor. The other component is a pistachio-mint coulis. The pistachios are cooked until tender and the mint is blanched then the two are blended till smooth with simple syrup. This is one tasty dessert that works on every level. It looks beautiful, smells fantastic and the flavors just pop.