Friday, October 26, 2012

Buttermilk panna cotta for young and old

As I write this, I’m watching Two Greedy Italians on tv, the travelogue/cooking show with Antonio Carluccio and that Gennaro guy (Jamie Oliver’s mate). This is right after watching Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals.

You really notice the contrast between the two shows, with Jamie emphasising healthy fast food (calories per portion are shown for each recipe), while the 2 Italians get stuck into massive meals of cured meats, cheeses and barrelfuls of sauce-laden pasta. (But ooh, look, the 2 Italians are in a gym, sniggering at a muscleman. Oh, now they’re back to talking about porchetta…)

It made me think about how, why and when we decide to eat a certain way. Is it a generational thing, with the younger gen being more aware that what you eat now is going to have a bearing on your later years? Does the older generation think, ‘bugger it, I might as well enjoy life while I’ve got a couple of years left’?

I’ve always been wary of stuffing myself until I burst and believe me, the older you get the easier it is to a) eat more, b) put on weight and c) despair at how hard the weight is to shift. The different focus of the 2 tv shows has made me feel that a) I’m not that old (yet), b) it’s not too late to improve my eating habits, and c) I want to get to the age when I can say ‘bugger it, I might as well enjoy life while I’ve got a couple of years left’.

Here’s a recipe that’s deceptively light, tangy and luscious – just be careful you don’t have too much of it.

Buttermilk Panna Cotta
serves 4

2 tblsp warm water
2 tsp gelatine powder
1 cup reduced-fat thickened cream
½ cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups buttermilk
Fresh or canned cherries (or other fruit), to serve

1. Place the water in a cup and sprinkle over the gelatine. Stir gently until the gelatine dissolves.

2. Meanwhile, place the cream and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour in the gelatine mixture and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and mix in the vanilla and buttermilk.

3. Pour the mixture into serving glasses and refrigerate for 3 hours. Top with fruit before serving.

recipe adapted from fast, fresh, simple (Donna Hay).

Looks like a laboratory, doesn't it?
One of the disadvantages of not having enough matching serving glasses.

This is quite a 'sloppy' panna cotta, so it can't be unmoulded onto a plate.
Never mind, just spoon it straight from the glass, it tastes just as good.


  1. I think I'm beginning to slip into the "bugger it" category. Not that I only have a few years left. I'm just going through a lazy phase.
    The other half occasionally makes buttermilk panna cotta and, to be honest, I prefer it to the regular variety. Berries go perfectly with it!

  2. I need to be more consistent in my views and should be thinking more like Jamie Oliver I guess..
    Having said that, I love to have those meals where you just enjoy the dish, the ingredients and the company, without worrying about tomorrow..sigh, it is indeed a balancing act.
    Buttermilk panna cotta sounds like something I would love. I really enjoy tangy desserts :)

  3. My grandparents both lived to be 95 and they never thought about what they ate in terms of it being healthy or who knows. I try to eat healthy 90% of the time and the other's all about dessert. Love this panna cotta!

  4. This looks so good, I've always found regular pannacotta to be too rich for my palate! I think you can eat pretty much anything you like as long as it's only little portions!

  5. Food should be enjoyed, rather than consumed with guilt, anxious calculations as to the number of calories that it contains, and subsequent regret.

    Food with any amount of fat or sugar can and should be enjoyed, provided that it isn't consumed in excess. The problem arises when there is a perceived need to consistently eat until stuffed to bursting to feel satiated. If rich foods are eaten in small quantities, or in large quantities but infrequently (i.e. stuffed to bursting, but that is almost the sole food for the day) then there should be no problem, at least so far as weight is concerned.

    I would much rather adopt that approach - to enjoy foods as they are meant to be - than to try and devise atrophied simulacra of rich foods so that I can satisfy a need to gorge at every meal. I would much rather savour a small quantity of charcuterie than stuff myself with some tortured reduced-fat, aerated, gelatinised, artificially-sweetened dessert, to then probably feel guilty anyway.

  6. I never realised how simple panna cotta could be. I've book marked this and I'll be soon on my way to make this. Thank you for sharing xx

  7. Love the little jars you've used. So cute!

  8. I love Jamie AND Gennaro and Antonio. They are all so lovely and have such heart.

    Interesting, the cultural/age contrast, isn't it? I reckon Jamie's recent focus on calories is due to public demand. As a chef (and def as a cookbook author) he has shared his fair amount of gut busters. But I think his philosophy is to eat as much real, fresh food as possible to make room for the indulgences that are so worth it in life.

    As for Antonio Carluccio in particular... he's old school in that beautiful way that seems to leave him guiltless about his waistline. Sometimes I wish I was like that (and then I snap back into it) :)