Kitchen Therapy


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Hot Chocolate Panna Cotta

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This is the perfect summer dessert when you’re over summer and looking forward to cooler weather and the foods that go along with cooler temps, like hot chocolate!
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie’s recipe tasted heavenly to me. It was cold, silky smooth and refreshing. At the same time there was no mistaking the flavours of a good hot chocolate.
It’s still summer in Australia and we have had temps that have sat around 30 degrees celsius (that’s mid to high 80’s in fahrenheit) or above, pretty much every day this month. It’s starting to wear thin! I’m ready for some diversity, a little bit of cool weather, maybe throw in some rain! Dorie’s recipe felt like it fit perfectly with where I am at. Hinting of cooler weather pleasures but satisfying the need for food that is still  cold and refreshing.
What we have been taking advantage of this summer are the long days. Going for walks at 7 and 8pm at night along Manly beach. The tourists have gone home for the day and the ocean breeze is a welcome relief. And it’s a great way to walk off all the desserts I’ve been enjoying from Baking Chez Moi!

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I am looking forward to reading what everyone else in the group thought of this dessert.
We decorated our hot chocolate panna cotta with cream and raspberries to make it look pretty for our dinner guests.
So the following day I made it again and I have to say, it doesn’t look as pretty, but I preferred it like this. The hot chocolate flavour was clear and the texture reminded me of the puddings my mum used to make for me when I was a little girl back in Yugoslavia.

 

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2012 – Resolutions and Peach Jelly and Vanilla Panna Cotta

I am a sucker for New Beginnings.
A Fresh Start.
Hope and Possibilities.

To me, a New Year is like buying a new Journal.
The pages are crisp, clean and waiting to be written on.
I get butterflies in my stomach in anticipation.

I love setting New Year Resolutions.
(I forget most of them by mid January).
But my goodness I love setting them!

So with New Year’s Eve approaching, I was not going to let my favourite time of year slip by me in a blur of busy-ness!

I have been wanting to do the Bondi to Bronte walk for a few weeks now.
So I convinced my husband and kids a 7 km, cliff walk, was exactly what we all needed!
The cliffs, the ocean, the crashing waves, it all feels so… cleansing!
But at the same time it’s Bondi beach.
It’s fun and exciting and a place where anything can happen!

So as we walked from Bondi beach…

Past the Bondi Icebergs…

And made our way to Bronte…

Where we stopped and had lunch…

I FELT the frustrations, the regrets and the limitations I had wittingly and unwittingly imposed on myself and exposed myself to.
The hurts, humiliations and embarrassments.
The worries that kept me up at night.
The people that let me down (again and again) as I turned a blind eye.
And those that were always there and I shamefully took for granted.
I didn’t run away.
I wanted to!
But that’s not what today was about!
Today was about new beginnings and making resolutions.
And I couldn’t get to the fun part until I worked through the messy bits.

On the walk back I thought of all the good stuff of 2011.
The achievements, successes, joy and love.
I tried to pinpoint what I was doing around the times that I felt at my best.

I also starting to think about a story I read by an author (no idea who it was). They said one year they set themselves one resolution. To not tell a lie. Sounds simple! But this one little resolution led to the dissolving of friendships and relationships and incredible turmoil. In hindsight, they said they could see it was a necessary step to finding what they’re about in this life.

So rather than making my usual list of resolutions, I too have only picked one resolution for 2012.

To be PRESENT.

Science has now confirmed that our mind can change the brain’s circuitry and change the connections our brains make. We filter input in our own unique way based on the life experiences we have had. As a result we can get into a rut, making the same choices again and again.
Choices that are familiar and comfortable but not necessarily good for us.

Being present means we remain open to ourselves and others.
It means, when stuff comes up for us, we don’t react in our usual ways.
It means sitting with unpleasant feelings, like uncertainty and vulnerability, without reacting.
And when the need to run, fight, please, or plead subsides, we have clarity.
We are open to the present moment without judgement.
We are open to all the possibilities of life.

And what could be more exciting than that?

A clean slate to write on for 2012.

We came home and made this Peach Jelly and Vanilla Panna Cotta.

I saw this dessert in Issue 6 of the Donna Hay Magazine a few years back.
It looked so festive and elegant I couldn’t resist it.
I have been making it every year since.
It’s become tradition.
We all look forward to it.
As the panna cotta sits on the stove cooling, we stand around, chatting and dipping our spoons into the silky smooth mixture.
We all look forward to it.
For our family this dessert signals the holiday season is here.

PEACH JELLY AND VANILLA PANNA COTTA
(pretty much as it appears in Issue 6 of Donna Hay Magazine) 

Peach Jelly

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
3 peaches, halved and stoned
1 tbsp gelatine
1/3 cup raspberries

Vanilla Panna Cotta

2 tbsp gelatine
1/3 cup warm water
3 3/4 cups single or pouring cream
1 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. To make the jelly, place the water, sugar and vanilla bean in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the peaches and allow to simmer 3-5 minutes or until soft. Remove the peaches, slip off skins and set aside. Place 1/4 cup of the peach liquid in a bowl, sprinkle over the gelatine and set aside for 5 minutes. Add the peach and gelatine mixture to the remaining peach liquid, stir and simmer for 2 minutes or until the gelatine is dissolved. Remove the vanilla bean. Place the peaches cut side up in a well greased loaf tin, sprinkle with the raspberries and pour over the liquid. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.

2. To make the panna cotta, sprinkle the extra gelatine over the extra water and set aside for 5 minutes. Place the cream, icing sugar and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the gelatine mixture and simmer over low heat for 4 minutes or until the gelatine is dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Pour the panna cotta mixture over the set jelly and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight. Invert and slice to serve.