I've mentioned before that S is the savoury cook in our house, while I take care of all things sweet. One of his specialities is his Spaghetti Bolognese. The recipe is very time consuming, so he only tends to make it a couple of times a year. Lately I have been craving lasagna- funnily enough, neither of us has ever made one before. Since we love S's Bolognese sauce so much, we decided to use it in the lasagna. Well, let me say that S started cooking at around 12 pm, and the lasagna wasn't eaten until 7 pm. The whole process was just so time consuming! Mind you, S is a perfectionist. This is usually a good thing, but when it comes to cooking savoury food, I like to be a little more efficient! I think he finds something quite therapeutic in hand dicing vegetables into tiny little squares (that's what food processors are for, no?) I admit that I nagged a bit during the day with the usual 'when's dinner ready'? and 'how come it's taking so long'? Suffice to say that it really was worth the wait. Absolutely delicious. Not that I will be asking him to make lasagna again anytime soon...
Unintentionally, it ended up being quite the Italian theme for food that night. We served the lasagna with a big leafy green salad in a balsamic dressing, and for dessert I served a Vanilla Bean Panacotta. Honestly, it wasn't planned at all! Just a coincidence. It wasn't until after, that we put all the pieces together. Panacotta is one of those desserts that I just love- so simple, but just perfect. Unless I remind myself that I literally am eating cooked cream, I would probably want to eat it everyday.
Vanilla Bean Panacotta
from Neil Perry's 'The Food I Love'
125 ml milk
250 ml pure whipping cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthways and seeds scraped out
2 tablespoons caster sugar
8 g leaf gelatin (I used 5 g)
125 ml double cream
1. Put the milk, whipping cream, vanilla bean and seeds and half the sugar into a saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring, then gently simmer for 1 minute. Soften the leaf gelatin in a little cold water, then squeeze out. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining sugar and softened leaf gelatin.
2. Strain the mixture into a bowl and chill over ice. As it sets, keep stirring- this will help keep an even distribution of the vanilla seeds. When the mixture reaches a gelatinous appearance, similar to the thickness of thick cream, remove the bowl from the ice.
3. Stir some of the mixture into the double cream to break it down, then add back to the remaining mixture. Strain again and pour into the dariole moulds to set. Leave in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
4. To release the panacotta, pour some boiling water into a bowl and submerge the moulds half way down in the water for about 10 seconds. Gently place a small knife down the inside edge to create an air pocket and separate the panacotta from the mould. Turn the panacotta onto a plate and serve with fresh berries. Serve immediately.