Thursday, July 2, 2015
VEGAN PANNA COTTA WITH MIXED BERRY COULIS
Over the next week or so my family will be celebrating two rather big days: the first being in honor of this country we call home and the second, a birthday for my first born baby, now entering into the BIG 5th year. Similar to loving the act of celebrating the birth of a person, I cherish that we pause as a country one day a year to reflect on the freedoms we enjoy, most without much thought on a regular basis. In light of many of the devastating events that have occurred within these borders over the last month or so, I think it is vital to remember we live in a land founded on the dream of a better future. It is more important, now more than ever, to continue to heal the brokenness hidden within the cracks of the land and souls of the people.
And I think it's essential that on this day, this fourth of July, we take a moment to say:
Hey, we live in a country where we are able to make choices, and mistakes, and differences and this is awesome. We live in a country where we vote and have discussions and debate and give our opinions and this is an incredible gift and responsibility. We live in a country of wealth and land and beauty and have the ability to give freely and help and pray and sit in wonder. We can choose our faith and schools and doctors. We can follow our dreams and have opportunity even when it all falls apart. We can travel and be welcomed home. We have big problems and small but we also have amazing minds and courageous voices who are working tirelessly to encourage us all to do better - to care more about others and the world around us. We experience pain and heartache and beauty and joy, sometimes all in a matter of minutes, and we have the people around us to walk with us through it all.
I'd say this is worth celebrating. For one day I encourage us to hang up the political chatter and lay down our nasty online grenades. To surround ourselves with the people we love and drink champagne and eat dessert and big green salads and enjoy the fruits of our land. To find a body of water to swim in for hours and remember to say thank you because clean water isn't something to take for granted. I urge us to stay up late and watch the sunset or admire the fireworks. I challenge us to be present and pause and, rather than thinking of all the ways we and this country fall short - all of the destruction and damage and heartache we've caused - to instead remember the ways we've given and changed and healed and shown the world we are kind and compassionate and work for all to experience the freedom we do today.
And then I hope we enter into July 5 with a new sense of unity and humbleness and the drive to leave exclusion and segregation in history, exactly where it belongs. Be brave and share a message of love. Take courage and look at the darkness within the confines of your own soul. Let's face our own demons in an effort to bring a little more peace to this world. And may we pause and give thanks - celebrating summer and freedom, grace and redemption.
Happy Independence Day, friends.
A few years ago I was introduced to a coconut milk version of panna cotta and fell for it immediately. I love the creamy texture, the light dessert taste, the summer of it all. So in thinking of a special treat for this upcoming country-wide holiday, I immediately went to this. It's simple, light, and a lovely way to end a meal.
If your curious about tigernuts [and why their not actually nuts!], head over here.
For the Panacotta:
1 c. tigernuts [I've used Gemini as well as Tiger Nuts]
2 1/2 c. room temperature water
OR substitute 4 cups of any milk of choice [thicker milks work best like coconut milk]
1/4 - 1/2 c. pure [local if possible] maple syrup, adjust to fit your taste
1 vanilla bean, scraped [check out this video for instructions] or if you come across a dry bean, toss the whole thing into the blender
1 - 2 pinches of sea salt
a large pinch of cardamom powder
3 tablespoons pure gelatin
Place silicone muffin cups on a small cookies sheet or serving platter. You can also us small glass bowls or jars as well.
Note: If the idea of making your own nut milk sends you into a mild panic, check out this video first. It will hopefully dispel all your fears and insecurities!
Place whole tigernuts in a blender and cover with water until the liquid reaches the three cup mark [this is approximately 2 1/2 cups of water]. Blend on high for a minute or until the liquid is white in color and very smooth. Place a nut milk bag in a glass bowl or four cup measuring cup in the sink. Carefully pour the nut milk into the bag. Gently lift up the bag and twist at the top to make sure none of the liquid squirts out. Once the top is secure, squeeze the bag slowly [all the while hold the top of the bag tightly closed] until all of the liquid has been pressed from the pulp. Set pulp aside and rinse out the blender.
In a small saucepan very slowly warm the milk to just higher than room temperature [warm to touch]. It is really important to watch as heating it too much will cause it to gel.
Return the warmed milk to the blender container and add syrup, vanilla bean seeds, salt, and cardamom to the milk. Blend on medium. Turn blender speed to low and slowly pour in the gelatin powder. Blend on low for an additional thirty seconds or so.
Pour this liquid immediately into the silicone muffin cups or greased glass bowls. Place in the refrigerator for about two hours - overnight. To speed up the process you can put the panna cotta in the freezer for about thirty minutes or until it is firm but be sure to remove before it freezes.
For the Coulis:
I'm taking a bit of a liberty [in honor of the holiday of course!] calling this coulis, as most traditional coulis' are strained. I prefer it a bit chunky so I skip that particular step but you could run the cooked berries through a blender and then strain the pulp if you choose.
4 c. of berries of choice, fresh or frozen [I used equal parts strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, and sour cherries]
juice of 1/2 a lemon or about 1 T. of fresh juice
pinch of sea salt
1/4 - 1/2 c. pure maple syrup or raw honey, local if possible [adjust to taste]
In a medium size stainless steel pot, warm berries over medium-low heat. Cover and allow to soften into a jelly like consistency, stirring frequently. Once the berries have become very soft, gently smash any whole berries with a fork or immersion blender. Add remaining ingredients and stir. Cook over low heat for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.