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Goat Cheese Panna Cotta with Beets in Lemon Gelatin (no cook)

Courtesy of Chef Oonagh Williams of Royal Temptations

Beet Gelatin

I make sweet panna cotta and got the idea for a savory version from a recipe from Wilson’s Farms in Lexington MA, one of my favorite places for fresh fruit and vegetables.  I like that this recipe can easily be adapted for as many people as you need to “cook” it for.  This makes life so much easier when you are either trying out a recipe or there are only two of you at home. I will eat this as a dinner with salad, as a side with fresh salmon, or garnished with shrimp or smoked salmon, even spread on bagels. This is not that strong, hits-you-in-the-mouth goat cheese taste.  If you can tolerate goat cheese, use an unsweetened milk substitute for the half and half and leave out the sour cream/yogurt.  It will still be good.

If you cannot tolerate goat cheese then use an unsweetened milk substitute for half and half and ignore the sour cream/yogurt.  It will still be good.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup half and half  (richer fat content than whole milk, but not as rich as single/light cream)
  • 1 tsp. sour cream (I use lite or else plain yogurt)
  • ¼ cup mild goat cheese at room temperature
  • ½ tsp. gluten-free gelatin
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 1 Tbsp.finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives or green of green onions (If you use green of green onions, choose very thin green onions.  The thicker and therefore older the green onion, the stronger the raw onion flavor, even from just the green leaves.)
  • Pinch of salt and white pepper so no black flecks are visible.

Directions:

  1. Warm half and half in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl, add goat cheese and stir until goat cheese is totally melted.
  2. Sprinkle gelatin (looks like fine sand when dry) over water in a small microwave safe bowl, stir in and leave to stand for 2 minutes. It will now look like a lump of rubber. Microwave for about 10 seconds until gelatin is totally melted and liquid is clear yellowy color.  If gelatin is not completely melted it will set to rubbery bits in the panna cotta.
  3. Stir in sour cream, fresh herbs, salt and pepper then gelatin. Pour into lightly oiled (oil on paper towel) ramekins (small custard cups, suitably shaped teacups, mugs, containers that will allow panna cotta to be turned out, i.e. no weird shapes) and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. While goat cheese layer is setting, make the beet layer.
  4. If you are heavy handed measuring gelatin, then the panna cotta will be tougher and rubbery.  Just enough makes a lovely creamy custard.  It goes well as an appetizer, salad or side dish with grilled steak or chicken.

Beet in Lemon Gelatin (jelly)

My Aunt Noìrin used to make a salad with lemon gelatin (jelly) and cubes of cooked beet, less chance of the beets (beetroot) falling on clothes and floor and staining everything.  Nowadays, gelatin/jelly seems to be totally artificial so I made a simple syrup, plus lemon juice and zest to set the beets.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz.  (about 3 golfball sized beets) cooked red beets cut into small cubes, roughly half an inch or smaller. You can buy beets in a can just in salt water but I haven't tried them.  Please don't use pickled beets as they will overpower.
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. gelatin
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • Zest of ¼ lemon (less if you like less tang but remember the syrup is sweet but not sickly)
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped chives or green of thin green onions
  • 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp. fresh dill if you like it or have it.

Directions:

  1. In a 4 cup bowl or jug, heat water, sugar, lemon juice and zest until sugar is totally melted.
  2. Add salt and pepper to taste, plus chives, parsley, dill.
  3. Stir beet into lemon mix so each piece is mixed in. I now leave this until goat cheese is set, then dissolve gelatin in the 1 tbsp water as in #2 in panna cotta directions. If you want to just make the beet jelly on its own, then add gelatin now with beets, spoon into container and refrigerate.
  4. Carefully and evenly divide up the lemon liquid/beets on top of the set goats cheese layer.
  5. Refrigerate until firm. Eat anyway you want.
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