Wednesday, January 18, 2012

vanilla panna cotta with Piopio blueberries … and a year older

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me … ♫

That’s the blog singing, not me.  My birthday was lost somewhere between Christmas shopping, Christmas organization and travel plans. Either way, we’re both a year older.

Yes, last Tuesday 10 January was the first anniversary of eat, etc…

And, as if Food Gawker somehow knew 10 January was a special anniversary, my first attempt at a photographic submission, succeeded. Oh, happy days.  Click on the Food Gawker badge in the right hand column if you have no idea what I am talking about. There’s only one photo as yet but first birthdays are kind of special, don’t you think?

Thank you to each and every one of you who has taken the time to stop by.  Sometimes I feel like such a fraud being a food blogger, especially when others have so much more talent.  So I remind myself that I’m not pretending to be anything other than what I am – someone who likes to cook and bake and wants to write about it.  There. Now you know.

Okay, on to the main idea, a creamy little dessert. 

After the Christmas rush (refer paragraph two above and/or my last post if you really want to relive the details. I don’t.), New Year’s Day lunch was a combined celebration – my birthday, Christmas AND New Year - with my sister and her partner, and most of all it was going to be simple.

Panna cotta is one of those easy yet impressive desserts that you make in advance.  It is velvety smooth on the palate and creamy to taste. The cream should be flavoured softly to give just a delicate hint of what’s inside.  Then use what’s in season to accompany it or to decorate. 

We had purchased a 1-litre box of big fat blueberries from the Piopio Orchard on our trip back from Taranaki (and on our way down!). The blueberries are juicy, sweet and better than any blueberries I’ve ever tasted.  No bruised or shriveled ones here and they last really well.  They also sell strawberries, fruit ice creams and coffees.  No wonder they’re so popular. I texted a friend to say the only traffic jam we’d encountered on our way south was the one in the car park at the orchard! 

Back home on New Year’s Day, I didn’t bother to use moulds for the panna cottas (stressless lunch, remember?) but you are welcome to try.  They look just as appealing served in little glasses or ramekins.  Plus, you don’t have the “will they, won’t they slip out whole” factor. I served them with fat blueberries and star shaped sweet shortbread.

Another fine start to a New Year.

vanilla panna cotta with blueberries

3 tsp gelatine
2 tbsp warm water
375ml (1 ½ cups) cream
375ml (1 ½ cups) milk
75g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
1 vanilla pod (or substitute with 1 tsp vanilla essence)
1 small punnet blueberries (or use seasonal fruit of your choice)

Optional: sweet shortbread or similar dessert-type biscuit to serve

Soak the gelatine in the 2 tbsp warm water.  Stir briskly with a fork until the gelatine is completely dissolved.

Using a sharp knife split the vanilla pod lengthways to open but don’t cut right through. 

Place the cream, milk, sugar and vanilla pod in a saucepan and bring slowly to the boil. When it comes to the boil, take the pan off the heat.   Remove the vanilla pod (you can rinse this in water, dry and re-use) and whisk in the soaked gelatine until it is well combined.

Lightly butter or oil* six ramekin dishes or moulds, then pour in the mixture.  Leave to cool, and then chill in the fridge for at least two to three hours until set.

Arrange the blueberries on top of each dish or alongside and serve with a suitable dessert biscuit such as sweet shortbread.

*Use a light, flavourless oil. 


  1. Happy birthday! And happy blog birthday! And is that not one but *two* photos in your Foodgawker gallery? Congrats :)

    I love panna cotta but gasp, have never tried making it. I think it's the gelatine thing - I never have any lying around at home and never think to buy any when I'm at the shop! Clearly advance planning is key... Those blueberries look just gorgeous too.

  2. Thank you - gelatine is a bit scary but after the first time it's okay. It lasts ages too so just buy a packet. The second photo must have just come through - so that's exciting too!

  3. Happy Birthday! Good dessert ;-), no gelatine for me though, just agar agar :-).


  4. Belated Happy...Birthday, Blog & congrats on Food Gawker :) That panacotta certainly is pretty as picture :)

  5. Wow this looks delicious! What a fancy shmancy looking dessert, you make it look so easy though!