If you’ve read the blog for a while you know that pannacotta is one of my go-to puddings. Partly because it’s delicious (duh!) but mainly because it’s so easy to make in advance. You just take it out of the fridge, add toppings if any and off you go.
Many people seem a little scared of making it at home, but with good quality gelatine leaves (I like Dr Oetker’s) it really is super simple and doesn’t take long to make. But it does require some planning as it needs quite a few hours to set in the fridge. At least six (as it needs to cool down first) but I usually make it the day before or the morning of, for a dinner the same day.
This particular pannacotta recipe is an ode to autumn and apples and almost like a deconstructed crumble with a creamy element.
The apples are soft and sweet but with a little acidity and the crumble topping adds crunch and texture. I really enjoyed this and after a few attempts I got it just right.
Vanilla pannacotta with fried apples and oat crumble topping, serves 4
500 ml single cream
1 vanilla pod
50 ml caster sugar
2 gelatin leaves
2 apples (local ones are best), washed, cored and diced
1 tbsp salted butter
1 tbsp golden syrup
1/4 lemon, the juice
tiny pinch of salt
150 ml jumbo oats
1 tbsp salted butter
1 tbsp caster sugar
Make the pannacotta well in advance: Cover the gelatin leaves with cold water in a bowl. Make a cut lengthways in the vanilla pod and add to a saucepan. Add sugar and cream. Bring to the boil and let it simmer for a few minutes while stirring. Remove from heat. Squeeze the excess water out of the gelatin and add to the pan. Stir to dissolve. Divide between four small bowls or glasses, pouring through a sieve . Leave to cool then let them set in the fridge for at least 6 hours.
Remove the pannacottas from the fridge as you prepare the toppings (or make the toppings before dinner and heat up in time for serving, in which case keep the pannacottas refrigerated). In one non-stick frying pan, add 1 tbsp butter on medium heat. Add the apples and allow them to soften. Add the golden syrup when the apples are soft and fry for another 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice and a little salt. Set aside, covered.
In another non-stick saucepan, add 1 tbsp butter on medium heat. Add the oats and toast the oat flakes until golden brown while stirring. Add the sugar and stir to combine.
Divide the apples between the pannacottas and top with the sugary oats.
I’m a very seasonal person. Despite the mainly chilly weather at the moment I can’t face putting tights or warm jackets on. Because it is summer. Instead I layer up on my upper body but keep my legs bare (if I’m wearing a skirt or dress for work). I’m used to this approach but people in the office think I’m a little strange. Fair enough, I think.
But when it comes to food it’s harder. Sure, I incorporate as much asparagus, strawberries, rhubarb, tomatoes and new potatoes into my diet as I possibly can, but instead of craving salads I still want warm filling food. So while this autumnal recipe of gnocchi with a lovely creamy butternut squash sauce with both cream and parmesan may suit the post-bikini season better it’s what I fancy eating right now. Until summer arrives. Then bring on the salads!
Gnocchi with creamy butternut sauce, serves 2
1/2 butternut squash
salt & pepper
approx 300 g gnocchi, cooked according to the instructions on the packet
50-100 ml single cream
finely grated parmesan
a few sprigs of thyme (sage works too!)
Peel the squash and remove the strings and seeds. Cut into even-sized pieces and place in a roasting tin. Drizzle with olive oil and season. Stir to coat all the pieces with oil. Place in the oven and roast until the pumpkin is soft, approx 35 mins in 200C.
Cook the gnocchi and keep it warm.
Purée the roasted squash with a stick blender. Add (cold) cream until you have a nice thick sauce. Season with salt, pepper and grated parmesan. Heat up the sauce in a non-stick saucepan while stirring, if needed. Pour the sauce over the gnocchi, top with more grated parmesan and some thyme leaves.
This autumn is the strangest I’ve ever experienced, weather-wise. Apart from the dip in temperature at the beginning of this week it’s been very warm for November. Not that I’m complaining (I hate the cold!), it just feels strange not having to wear gloves when Christmas is just around the corner!
The warmth outside hasn’t really put me in the mood for warming soups and hearty stews, in fact this recipe of slow cooked lamb shank is the most autumnal dish I have accomplished the last few months.
The recipe for herb polenta is courtesy of my Swedish food blogger colleague Annika and works with all sorts of tender meats.
Slow cooked lamb shank, serves 2
1 lamb shank
a knob of butter
1 onion, unpeeled, cut into wedges
1 carrot, cut into chunks
2 bay leaves
1/2 bottle red wine
Pre-heat the oven to 150C. Melt a knob of butter in an oven-proof casserole dish with a lid. Brown the meat on all sides and season. Remove from the pan and add the onion and carrot pieces. Fry for a few minutes then remove from the heat. Put the lamb shank back into the casserole dish and add the wine and bay leaves. Put the lid on and place in the oven for 2 1/1 hours; you want the meat to be very tender and fall off the bone. Check on the meat every half an hour. Add more liquid if needed and turn the shank once in a while. To serve, take the meat off the bone and serve in chunks with polenta and vegetables.
Creamy herb polenta, serves 3
Translated from and adapted after Annika’s recipe (which I have halved)
700 ml vegetable stock
50 g butter
300 ml polenta
a handful finely chopped mixed herbs (rosemary, oregano, sage etc)
150 ml finely grated parmesan
Bring the stock to simmer (not boil) in a large saucepan. Add the polenta while whisking. Add butter. Whisk until the polenta starts to boil. Whisk regularly while the polenta cooks for another 15-20 minutes. Add the herbs but save some for decoration. Add more stock if needed. The polenta needs to be thinner than you think as the parmesan will thicken it. Add the parmesan when the polenta is cooked. Season to taste and maybe add another knob of butter. Serve immediately.