entertainingfoodFood & Drinkin the kitchen withkristina gillrecipes

in the kitchen with: alex van buren

by Grace Bonney

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This week’s recipe for Mint Panna Cotta with Strawberries and Balsamic Vinegar comes from freelance food journalist Alex Van Buren. Though strawberry season may have passed for some of you, they’re readily available in most grocery stores and the mint panna cotta is lovely all on its own. (If you like, try substituting persimmons — or something else fantastic that you can share with us on the column!) –Kristina

About Alex: Alex Van Buren, a Brooklyn-based freelance journalist, editor and recipe tester, is a former staff food writer for Time Out New York and research editor for Martha Stewart Living. She has written for Gourmet.com, Salon.com, In Style, Martha Stewart Weddings, Everyday Food and Edible Manhattan, among other publications. She is the co-author of the new-this-year book Clean Plates N.Y.C, and about a million years ago she edited pop culture titles for Da Capo Press. Alex is working on starting a food-related nonprofit in her spare time.

[Photos by Jennifer Causey]

CLICK HERE for the full post and recipe after the jump!

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Why Alex chose this recipe: Mario Batali’s recipe didn’t need tweaking, but I love mint, and this visual — emerald green with the ruby berries drenched in balsamic — makes people swoon a bit. There’s nothing like a silky panna cotta to make you want to pick up a plate and lick its entirety. My late granny’s vintage Rosenthal china is showcased here; it is the only item in my faux-retro-styled studio I truly hold dear. Photography by Jennifer Causey.

[portrait by Jenene Chesbrough]

RECIPE:

Modified to fit Alex’s tastes, original recipe from Mario Batali and Epicurious.com.

Mint Panna Cotta with Strawberries and Balsamic Vinegar

Makes 6

* 2 tablespoons water

* 1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin

* 2 cups whipping cream

* 1 1/4 cups plain goat’s-milk, whole-milk or Greek yogurt

* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* Eight large sprigs of mint (with 3 to 5 leaves on each), stems left intact, plus six tiny sprigs for garnish (Optional)

* 1/2 cup sugar

Strawberries

* 2 1-pint baskets strawberries, hulled, thinly sliced

* 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

* 1 tablespoon sugar

* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

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Preparation

For panna cotta:

Pour 2 tablespoons water into small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over water. Let stand until softened, about 15 minutes. Whisk 1 cup cream, yogurt and vanilla in large bowl to blend. Mash mint, including stems, for 1 minute in mortar and pestle or in large bowl using spoon. Heat remaining 1 cup cream, mint and 1/2 cup sugar in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves and cream comes to simmer. Allow to simmer for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add gelatin to cream mixture, stirring to dissolve gelatin. Cool for thirty seconds. Remove mint sprigs using slotted spoon or pour through small strainer or colander. Mix hot cream-gelatin mixture into yogurt mixture in bowl. Divide mixture among six 3/4-cup ramekins, using about 1/2 cup for each. Refrigerate desserts uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

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For strawberries:

Toss strawberries, vinegar, sugar and pepper in large bowl to combine. Let stand 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. Unmold each panna cotta from its ramekin: Run a paring knife around the top inner edge of ramekin, then dip bottom of ramekin in a bowl of boiling water for 10 seconds. Invert ramekin onto serving plate. Holding ramekin tightly to plate, shake firmly to release panna cotta. Spoon strawberries over or alongside panna cotta. Place each sprig of mint in palm of hand; slap with other hand to release aroma. Garnish each dessert, and serve.

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Adapted recipe printed with permission of Epicurious.com

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