Wednesday 28 June 2023

Wednesday 28th June - a 94th birthday lunch

and the easiest desert I've ever made!

The birthday lunch went well - my brother drove over from his house (3 hours away - good job he likes driving), collected my dather and we had lunch, the four of us, in the garden. 

They arrived very late, with unfortunate consequences for the beef and the brocoli, but completely understandable.  Although my brother was with my father in plenty of time, one of the things he brought was a memory stick with about 50 pictures from the 1970s, when he was living in the Far East, and of course they had to be watched before the came over. We've been given a copy for ourselves and I am looking forward to seeing them.

Particularly poignant, because of course my mother was alive then, and my aunt, and they were both so pretty and glamorous.  

Menu; beef Wellingtons from Marks and Spencers - won't buy again, they were ok, and very 'special occasion' but... Beef gravy from M and S was very good.

Broccoli, roasted aspagus, boiled Jersey Royal potatoes.

Wine - a very pleasant Fleurie, one of my father’s favourites

Desert; home-made panna cotta, strawberries (with or without cream and sugar), cheese; a chunk of cheddar and a triangle of brie oozing off the board 


After which we chatted for a while, and the sun came out, and the heat and the second glass of wine meant that it was time for my father to be taken back to his flat and have 'a little sleep', and my brother to set off back home.

I was always a little nervous of making panna cotta, but I trued it 2 weeks ago for the first time and so far it's been the simplest thing;

4 leaves of Dr Oetker gelatine will set a pint of liquid, according to the packet. I have tended to make half a pint using 2 leaves. Both time this has given me a rather solid set; so more liquid would have better.  

The first time I used 50/50 double cream and milk, sweetening with vanilla sugar. The second time I used 50/50 Greek yoghurt and a mixture of one shot of strong espresso coffee and milk. (I don’t think I'll repeat this experiment, or at least, not coffee flavour)

Today's was perfect; I used 50/50 cream and a Polish panna cotta cream liqueur given to us a thank you for looking after next door's cat. I made this up to about 6 fl oz and used 1 sheet of gelatine. The liqueur is very sweet (think baileys) so I didn't add any more sugar. 

Method; soak gelatine exactly directed on the packet.

Gently warm the liquid you plan to use; a Pyrex jug in the microwave worked for me. You want it hotter than warm but no where near simmering or boiling. 

Retrieve the now soggy gelatine from the cold water and dissolve it into the hot milk/cream mixture. Make sure it us completely dissolved with no bloody bits.

I pour it into small coffee cups; a generous half pint will fill 4-5. The 6 fl oz quantity filled 3 little cups.

Cover with cling film and allow about 3 hrs to chioland set. I serve them in the cups rather than attempting to turn them out.

It does mean I can make a delicious dessert for the two of us whenever we like.

No pictures of them; they've all gone!

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