May 20, 2011

our garden

Posted on May 20, 2011

Guess what my friends? We now have a garden! Where do we have this garden, you may ask, since we live in a tiny apartment on the 6th floor in a neighborhood where the planter outside of our building which would normally house vegetation instead houses a cinderblock and muddy ooze. Well, our garden resides in our 5 square feet of fire escape. It is perfect and adorable and probably taking up an unsafe amount of room on said fire escape, but emergency-smergecy, I need fresh herbs!

Now let me brag  …

I have an amazing boyfriend.

1. When I decide that in my new herb garden I need upwards of 10 varieties of herbs, and when I decide I also need a lemon tree, he sighs and then smiles back at my eager face. I interpret that smile as his blessing to move forward with this (crazy) plan.

2. He hauls two huge bags of planting mix and a tree up to our apartment. I carry the seedlings … maybe. He might have also carried those.

3. When I decide that I am too chicken to stand six floors up on our slatted fire escape to plant our garden, he stands on the fire escape and plants those sweet little seedlings as the fog rolls in.

4. He tolerates me as I, reading from the manual that came with the planter box, yell silly step-by-step instructions out the window, and humors me as I change the herb layout half way through the planting process.

5. He takes all the post-planting detritus down to the basement trash cans, while I admire my newly planted cuties.

6. He says that the herb markers that I purchased from Etsy are cute, which is just what I want to hear, even though he probably thinks they are quite silly and unnecessary.

Look at those herbs! By golly, isn’t Jordan a garden-planting stud!  And now we’ll have fresh herbs all the time! And right out our kitchen window! Even Willow is excited about them.

I am so lucky.  I love our new garden and I love that boy.


panna cotta with passionfruit sauce

Posted on May 20, 2011

This was my first panna cotta. Panna cotta is the dessert that chefs on Top Chef who were adamantly “not pastry chefs” would try with disastrous results, and so I was a little gun shy. Honestly, it is an amazingly simple dessert and I’m not sure why so many people messed it up. Panna cotta has a delightful, milky flavor that is great on its own, but even better as a base for other toppings. We topped it with fresh strawberries and passionfruit sauce, but it would be great with any other berry, stone fruit, citrus, nuts. It’s basically a dessert base for all seasons! I know Alice Waters wouldn’t settle for anything less.

Panna Cotta with Passionfruit Sauce, from the Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook

One 1/4 oz packet of unflavored gelatin
Flavorless oil, for greasing the ramekins
1-inch piece of vanilla bean, sliced and scraped
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
zest of 1/4 lemon

1/4 cup passionfruit pulp
3 T simple syrup
1/4 cup diced strawberries

Grease 8 ramekins with a flavorless oil. In a medium-sized bowl, dissolve the gelatin in 3 T water.

In a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the cream, milk, vanilla, sugar and lemon until simmering. Simmer for a minute or two. Pour into the gelatin mixture and whisk until the lumps of gelatin are fully incorporated. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into another bowl. Fill the ramekins and place them in the fridge to set up. Ideally, they will have about 4 hours to chill before serving.

To serve, top with passionfruit sauce and diced strawberries.