Summer Dessert with Strawberries

Richard whips up a creamy, cool summertime dessert

On this episode of Culinary Nunnsense we are taking advantage of summer strawberries. While shopping the other day, as soon as I walked in to the store I could smell the delicious scent of strawberries. My nose lead the way and a BOGO sign caught my eye. Once home, I thought what can I do with 2 pounds of fresh Florida berries? Some I washed, sliced and enjoyed as they were, but for the other pound it was time to apply a little Culinary Nunnsense and whip up a creamy summertime treat.

Panna Cotta, which means cooked cream, is a simple dessert that combines milk, cream and sugar. Originating in Northern Italy, where cream is plentiful, the dessert was sweetened with local berries and honey. Early recipes included a step which required boiling bones in order to make collagen, which then turns to gelatin. Don't worry, there will be no boiling bones in this recipe.

I do not do a lot of desserts or baking. Dessert recipes are too specific in measurements and timing. I like cooking by numbers - kind of like painting by numbers. I want the freedom to experiment, to explore, to have some Culinary Nunnsense.

Strawberry Panna Cotta
3 cups sliced strawberries (1 pound)
1 3/4 cups well-shaken low-fat buttermilk
6 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin, from less than 2 (1/4-oz) envelopes
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream

Blend strawberries, buttermilk, and sugar in a blender until very smooth, then pour through a very fine sieve or a colander lined with cheese cloth, into a medium bowl, pressing hard on solids. Discard solids.

Sprinkle gelatin over milk in a small bowl and let stand 1 minute to soften.

Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add gelatin mixture, stirring until dissolved.

Whisk cream mixture into strawberry purée and pour into molds. Chill molds, covered, until firm, at least 8 hours.

To unmold, dip molds in a small bowl of hot water 2 or 3 seconds, then invert panna cottas onto dessert plates and remove molds. Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes to soften slightly. Or eat directly out of the have to clean it anyway.

Add sliced berries to decorate and enjoy

Six ingredients, about and hour to make and another hour or so to set. Yes it's that easy. Go ahead get some berries, try a berry blend, add some vanilla bring in your own Culinary Nunnsense and you too will say, when it comes to a creamy, cool summertime dessert there is Nunn better.

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