Tag Archives: healthy

Heart-healthy panna cotta

It figures I’d start the low-fat, low-sodium posts with a dessert.  Those of you who know me in real life are aware I don’t do deprivation well — particularly when it comes to sweets.  So yes, dessert was the first thing I tried to transform.

The good news is, I think I’m on the right track.  I would almost serve this to guests — ALMOST.  It is still very much a work in progress, but I can assure you of this: it is a welcome substitute for the non-fat yogurt and jam we’ve* been stuck with lately.   I’ve basically started with a low-fat panna cotta recipe, which replaces the typical cream and sugar component of the dessert with low-fat milk and yogurt, and transformed it into something more exotic.  Does it work? Well — as I said before, almost. I would use pineapple or bananas instead of strawberries (or at least saute the strawberries with a little bit of nice balsamic or brown sugar), steep the basil in the coconut milk as opposed to liberally adding slivers of it to the dessert, and would skip the black pepper (which I will not mention in the recipe, of course) in favor of vanilla or toasted coconut.  Beyond that, though, it actually does seem worthy of dessert, which is exactly what I was going for.  If you want to make it a little creamier, you can either use full fat coconut or low / full fat yogurt.  But then you might as well use real cream, no?

If you prefer, you can also use regular milk. I’ve done this as well, and it works. It’s just a little less exciting.

Forgive the photos, which sort of remind me of faux foodie glamour shots. It is 11 pm and my nice camera lacks battery power, so I’ve decided to improvise.

* Err… well, James has. Until yesterday, I had my private stash of Girl Scout Cookies. Shhh, don’t tell!

Low-fat strawberry basil panna cotta

Serves 4.

  • 1 c. low-fat coconut milk
  • 1 c. non-fat greek yogurt (Fage or Skyr are the best)
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin (have yet to try this with agar agar for the vegetarians out there, but if I get around to it, I will report back. If you try it out and it works, leave a comment!)
  • 2 t. honey
  • 3 basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 6 strawberries, cut into small chunks

Sprinkle the gelatin over the coconut milk, and let stand for a couple of minutes minutes.  Heat briefly over a medium-low burner, stirring rapidly, until the gelatin dissolves.  Add the honey, and stir until that also dissolves.  Remove from heat. Stir in basil chunks, and set aside.

Evenly distribute strawberry chunks between four ramekins or small bowls.  Pour coconut milk mixture over the strawberries.  Chill mixture for a couple of hours, or until the mixture has firmed.  Serve cold, either in the ramekins or turned out and topped with some sort of decadent berry sauce (which I have yet to make).

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Filed under coconut, dessert, strawberry, Uncategorized

Reflections on 2008

Well, it was a bizarre, fantastic, and somewhat surreal year, and it’s going out in proper New Haven style.  (What, you don’t know what that is? Well … Think biting, icy snow and freshly made pizza, with the slight char on the crust. Happy New Year, right?).  There were a lot of firsts: buckwheat baguettes, cheese making, voyages to Australia and beyond, campfire cooking, and milestones of a more personal sort.  Next year promises to be even crazier, believe it or not, with the end of graduate school, a wedding (with our own homemade / homegrown food!) to pull off, jobs to find (somewhere, somehow) and still more travel to far off, exotic places. Well, maybe, anyway.  Hopefully we’ll finally make it out to Arizona for the Grand Canyon hike we keep talking about, with a possible side trip to Pizzeria Bianco, because that’s just how we roll.  The pizza will come first, of course.

Tomorrow, though, the silly resolutions kick in.  Here are a few food-related ones from my list for the year, just for good measure.  (Do you have any this year? Leave a comment!)

  1. Don’t die from James’s camembert experiments (oh yes, there will be a guest post. If we survive.)  I should add — I have faith. They actually look pretty good. I guess we’ll find out soon enough…
  2. Knife skills, baby.
  3. Make more green things.  Preferably things that James will eat.  (You know what the secret is?  Bacon.  If you add it, even in minuscule quantities, he will eat.)
  4. Learn to make simple, amazing dishes for parties that don’t require me to hide out in the kitchen. This will come in handy for our wedding, as we’re cooking everything ourselves.
  5. In honor of the financial crisis: more cheap eats.

And with that, I leave you with something to kick of the most typical of resolutions: Broccoli soup, a la Gordon Ramsay.

Easy Broccoli Soup

Cost: Cheap

Difficulty: Easy (as if the title didn’t tell you already)

Serves: 2-4 depending on what you serve it with. It’s really a starter, but is freaking amazing for lunch with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Splurge a little and buy good broccoli for this. As this recipe requires all of three ingredients, you must do it. Spend the extra dollar for the pretty fresh organic stuff (or farmers market stuff, you lucky warm climate bastards).  You will need a blender, unless you are more ambitious than I am.

  • 2 heads of broccoli. Cut the florets off and save the stems for some other project (broccoli slaw, anyone?).  Just a tip: look for closely packed, fresh florets. This means the broccoli is fresh. You want fresh broccoli.
  • 2 pinches salt, plus more to taste.
  • water
  • olive oil, plain yogurt (optional)

Fill a medium pot with water (until it’s ~2/3rds full).  Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Once it’s boiling, add a pinch of salt, add the broccoli florets, and add another pinch of salt. Stir quickly and cover. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the broccoli is lush and green and can be pierced with a knife but has not turned to mush.  In other words, if you drag a sharp knife through the broccoli, against the side of the pan, it should take a little pressure to get it through. When this happens, take the broccoli off the heat, and drain, BUT KEEP THE WATER. You will need it.

Place the cooked broccoli florets in the blender.  Add some of the reserved broccoli water until the water comes up to about half the broccoli height in the blender. Cover, throw a towel over the top of the blender, and hold.  Pulse gently a couple of times, to keep the water from shooting out and scalding your hand, then blend until it’s a nice puree.  Taste and adjust the salt, and maybe add some pepper or cayenne if you’re into that sort of thing.  Pour into a bowl and decorate with either the olive oil and yogurt, a bit of cheddar cheese melted on toast (my favorite), or nothing at all.  Serve immediately.

Variation: Do a mix of broccoli and cauliflower for an even creamier texture. It won’t be quite so vibrant, but I think the mix of flavors would be nice.

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Filed under bacon, quick meals, side, soup