Thoughts and ideas in creating the item
Using eggshells as a vessel for food is a classic concept. The picture shown is how we serve it in our dining room. We also use the same concept for catered events as a small plate station. I love the concept of using 100% of everything in our kitchen that is fit for consumption.
In the pictured item I encourage the diner to use the garnish to complete the experience, whether is a dust, flavored salt or the use of the micro greens. It’s all about the experience and creating interaction with the food.
A little history of Panna Cotta (from Italian cooked cream) is an Italian dessert made by simmering together cream, milk and sugar, mixing this with gelatin, and letting it cool until set. It is generally from the Northern Italian region of Piemonte, although it is eaten all over Italy, where it is served with wild berries, caramel, chocolate sauce or fruit coulis. It is not known exactly how or when this dessert came to be, but some theories suggest that cream, for which mountainous Northern Italy is famous, was historically eaten plain or sweetened with fruit or hazelnuts. Earlier recipes for the dish used boiled fish bones in place of gelatin; sugar, later a main ingredient, would not have been widely available as it was an expensive imported commodity. After years this treat evolved into what is now a gelatin dessert, flavored with vanilla and topped with fruit or spices, and served chilled.
Here are some recipes that are an easy foundational approach to a fun way to experience savory panna cotta used in the eggshells.
Honey Lavender Panna Cotta
- 1/2 0.25-ounce package of powdered gelatin, about 1 1/2 teaspoons
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 1 cup half and half or cream
- 1/4 cup wildflower honey
- 1 teaspoon dried lavender
- 1 cup milk ?Strawberries or other berries, to serve
In a small bowl sprinkle the gelatin over the 2 tablespoons of water and let soften for at least 5 minutes. Lightly oil 4 5-ounce ramekins with baking spray or flavorless oil. Set aside.
In a small sauce pan heat the cream, honey, and dried lavender to a light simmer then turn off the heat.
Whisk to incorporate all the honey evenly, then strain into a mixing bowl. Whisk in the gelatin. Whisk for at least a minute to make sure it is very evenly distributed and that no lumps remain. Whisk in the milk.
Pour into the ramekins, and put in the fridge to set. The panna cotta will need at least 2 hours to set; we prefer to wait at least 4, especially if the puddings will be unmolded.
To unmold lightly run a knife around the edge of the chilled pudding and invert onto a chilled plate.
Savory Fennel Panna Cotta
- One 1-lb bulb of fennel, excluding the stalks and fronds
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 cups half-and-half, divided
- 1 envelope (1 tablespoon) of unflavored gelatin powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Cut the fennel bulb into 1-inch chunks. (There’s no need to remove the core since everything will be liquefied.)
Place the fennel pieces in a saucepan and add to the pan just enough water to cover the fennel.
Bring the pot to a simmer over medium heat. Let the fennel cook gently for about 4-5 minutes until it’s tender. Drain off the water and add the butter to the fennel while it’s still hot. Transfer the cooked and buttered fennel to a high-speed blender; set aside.
To the same pot (no need to wash two pots, right?), add one cup of half-and-half and sprinkle the gelatin powder over the surface. Let the gelatin “bloom” for 4-5 minutes.
Pour the remaining half-and-half over the fennel in the blender, add the salt; liquefy, strain, and set the mixture aside.
Bring the half-and-half and gelatin in the pot to a gentle boil. Remove the pot from heat after one minute. Mix together very thoroughly the hot gelatin mixture and the strained fennel cream.
Pour the fennel cream into small containers (glass shot, martini glass, etc. — nothing too deep).
Cover the containers with pieces of plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.
Porcini Panna Cotta
- ½ oz. dried porcini
- Peanut or vegetable oil for oiling ramekins
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 tsp. tamari or soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. agar-agar flakes
- 1 cup crème fraîche
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1½ tbsp. chopped chives (optional)
Place porcini in a medium bowl and pour 1½ cups boiling water over them. Let stand until completely softened, about 30 minutes. Oil 4 small custard cups or ramekins.
Lift porcini out of soaking water, reserving water, transfer them to a sieve and rinse well under running water to remove any grit. Squeeze dry and mince. Line sieve with several layers of paper towels and strain soaking water into small saucepan. Set aside.
Melt butter in a sauté pan over mediumhigh heat. Add garlic and shallots, sauté briefly, then add minced porcini. Cook, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Stir in tamari. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
Add agar-agar flakes to reserved porcini water and mix well; let stand 10 minutes. Bring the water and flakes to a boil, stirring constantly, then reduce the heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Strain through a sieve into porcini mixture, mixing well.
Add crème fraîche and Parmigiano and mix well. Season with pepper to taste (and salt if needed).
Ladle the mixture into the custard cups or ramekins and let stand until set.
Just before serving, warm bottoms of cups in hot water, then carefully unmold onto small serving plates. (They can be reheated in a 350°F oven for 5 minutes, either in the ramekins or after unmolding them.) Garnish with chopped chives. Serves 4