Sunday, 30 June 2013

Elderflower Panna Cotta

 The BSG, Dad and I enjoyed The Rolling Stones’ Glastonbury set yesterday evening from the comfort of the sofa: with a great view, warm, dry and utterly relaxed in the knowledge that a trip to the facilities wouldn’t require a 45 minute commitment. I may have mentioned before that the BSG is allergic to camping, so this may be the closest we ever get (though I am working on the tipi boutique hotel idea. If a bunch of 69-year olds can headline a festival then I figure I’ve got some time)…

In the festival spirit (and because it is that time of year in Norfolk) we spent the morning in the hedgerow foraging for elderflowers. To reach the lofty, dinner-plate sized ones we had the added bonus of my dad, who you could say was the human equivalent of a cherry-picker. We divided the haul of foamy flowers; half went into making a cordial (for which the recipe is here) and the other half was destined for our pudding: elderflower panna cotta.

elder3  elder2

What emerged after the setting stage resembled something you might encounter in the murky fathoms of a frozen Siberian lake or the farthest reaches of space. This is because I didn’t have any ramekins... Appearance aside, it was Jagger-smooth, fragrant and nursery-food comforting, backed by its band of sweetened mashed strawberries and slices of yellow peach. When it’s not quite warm enough for ice cream, this is rock and roll, with extra flower-power.

Elderflower Panna Cotta

Serves 6

10 dry elderflower heads (choose the perfectly creamy, open ones – and ABOVE waist height for obvious reasons)
1 large pot (600ml) Double Cream
300ml natural Greek yoghurt
2 tablespoons caster sugar (or to taste)
Leaf gelatine

Shake off any stubborn residents from the elderflowers and place them flora-down in a bowl (there will be smaller bugs within but these can be strained out later). Avoid rinsing them as this will lose flavour.

Heat the cream and sugar in a pan until the granules have dissolved and the cream is just starting to scald. Pour the warm cream mixture over the elderflower heads and cover the bowl with cling film, then go and do something else for a couple of hours (like, say, watch Laura Robson battling through to the next round at Wimbledon)…

Strain the cream mixture through a j cloth and sieve into a clean measuring jug. Whisk in the yoghurt so that the liquid makes a pint. Follow the instructions on the gelatine packet for a pint of liquid (mine was four sheets), soaking the leaves in water for a few minutes. Meanwhile, gently heat the cream mixture in a saucepan until warm. Squeeze out the gelatine leaves and stir into the cream until dissolved. If any bubbles have formed, you can tap these out now.

Line your ramekins or container with clingfilm and pour in the cooling mixture. Refrigerate for a couple of hours until set. Turn out onto a plate and slice if necessary.

PS: there were all kinds of analogies swimming around my head about elders and betters while I was writing this post - dads and Rolling Stones and all that - but for some reason none of them caught. Suggestions on a postcard please…


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