Saturday, June 27, 2009

Lemons, lemons, lemons

Picture 5

I dreamt of Italy last night. Again. What is it about this country that gets you hooked? Sure they have all that glorious nature, wonderful, exuberant people, pizza, gelato, opera, unforgettable sunsets over the Colosseum, etc... but I have traveled to lots of exotic, remote corners of the world (getting almost crippled by the weight of my backpack, a.k.a. my best friend), saw incredibly beautiful things, met all kinds of people, and ate my way across several continents and none of these places trigger as many nostalgic emotions as Italy does. And things ought to get better, as far as my daydreams are concerned anyway. Memories get better with age. They get wrapped in this strange fog like filter. You know, like the ones they use to make new photos look old. You look at them, immediately see a story there, and in your mind it all plays out in slow motion. But I digest, as Joey Tribiani so eloquently put it.( If you don't know who Joey Tribiani is, you should probably stop reading this blog). What I wanted to talk about here are lemons. Amalfi lemons, to be precise. These ubiquitous little gems that litterally fall on your shoulders when you take a stroll on the notoriously narrow roads of the Amalfi. You can't escape the scent of lemons here, they're everywhere. In the air, in your pasta, in your salad, in baba al limone or that hornlike little thang Italians call sfogliatelle. What surprised me the most was that it's mostly the zest of lemon that is used, rather than the juice.
So in keeping with tradition, I made this lemony panna cotta today. Not a traditional one, as this version is made with buttermilk and lots of lemon zest, making it lighter and tangier than the usual panna cotta made with cream. And because strawberries are in season, why not serve your panna cotta with some honey-lemon strawberry salad?
Finally, if you're ever in the Amalfi region please, oh please have some lemon granita for me. And maybe a shot of Limoncello. Or two.Thank you.

Buttermilk panna cotta with honey-lemon strawberry salad



750 ml buttermilk
100 g sugar
zest of one organic lemon
3 1/2 gelatin leaves, softened in cold water

1 cup sliced strawberries
1/2 tsp mild honey
juice of half a lemon

In a medium saucepan combine buttermilk with sugar and lemon zest. Bring to a slow simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Do not boil. Squeeze out excess water from gelatin and add to buttermilk mixture. Stir to dissolve completely. Strain into 4 cups and refrigerate at least 6 hours.
For the salad combine all ingredients and spoon atop panna cottas.
Serves 4 of you or 1 of me.


Junglefrog said...

I totally love lemons too (and Italy by the way) and this lemon pannacotta sounds absolutely wonderful. I will definitely have a lemon granita for you if I go to Amalfi... :)

Gaby said...

I love panna cotta, but have never made it myself... I think I might have to try this asap!

Chef Fresco said...

I've never made this either but it look awesome!

April said...

This looks great! I love panna cotta and the additions of lemon and strawberries sounds so refreshing for the summer.

Ash said...

I am a HUGE fan of lemon and this looks especially good!!
I did the whole backpacking thing, and so far the place I miss the most is Melbourne's foodie culture!! So amazing!

Antonella said...

Hi Cherie, I am happy for you. Did you like Rome and all hidden corners of Italy?

What you brought with you in canada from Italy? :)

Sorry, Now I remember that I should write you for more tips :(

Sha said...

Not a traditional panna cotta but an amazing version! I will make my own buttermilk and use the lemons I can find... That looks refreshing and tasty with the lovely strawberries... Perfect combination of associations!

Danielle said...

Great presentation and photos! Gotta try this!!

CookiePie said...

LOVE panna cotta, LOVE buttermilk, love strawberries. Perfect dessert!

lauresophie said...

nice recipe! I just love lemons it might be a really fresh recipe

Miss Yu said...

Cherie, this looks divine! We will meet soon! -M

Cherie said...

Thanks for your comments. This is a very popular dessert with everyone around here, so I'm glad you all liked it.
Antonella, I brought back a few food magazines, a bottle of homemade Limoncello and a pair of handmade leather sandals from Lecce.
Yes, Miss Yu,I will see you soon!

Anonymous said...

It all looks so delicious. I so wish I had a lemon tree. I use at least two lemons a day....