The Chef in the Hat

The Chef In The Hat is Thierry Rautureau, the talented force behind Loulay Kitchen & Bar and Luc restaurants, bringing a French twist to the best of Pacific Northwest cuisine.

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New Recipe: Orange Panna Cotta with Pomegranate Sorbet

Panna cotta ("cooked cream" in Italian) is a deliciously versatile recipe. Here the dessert gets added aroma and flavor from orange, both fresh zest and exotic orange flower water, which is available in gourmet food shops and in the pastry section of well-stocked grocery stores. Its "cousin", rose water, would also be a delicious flavoring for this panna cotta, use just 1/2 teaspoon, as its flavor is more pronounced. Sometimes I add a bit of softened gelatin (1/2 of a gelatin sheet or about 1/2 teaspoon powdered gelatin) to the warm pomegranate syrup, pour it onto the base of the serving plates, and chill to set, forming a striking miroir (mirror) effect on which to serve the panna cotta.

The tuile cookies used here for garnish should be formed in the classic round shape and cooled over a rolling pin, creating an arched shape which will hold the small quenelle of pomegranate sorbet for serving.


Panna Cotta

Ingredients

2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges (about 2 tablespoons)
3/4 teaspoon orange flower water
3 gelatin sheets or 3 teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder
2 teaspoons Grand Marnier (optional)

Pomegranate Sorbet
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 cups pomegranate juice 

Pomegranate Syrup
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/2 cup pomegranate juice

Garnish
Tuile cookies
Crème anglaise
Pomegranate seeds

Combine the milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla beans in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to help the sugar dissolve. Stir in the orange zest and orange flower water, then take the pan from the heat and set aside to infuse for 30 minutes.

Lightly oil 8 1/2-cup ramekins or other small dishes with canola or other neutral oil.

If using gelatin sheets, break them into pieces and soften in a bowl of cold water, 5 to 10 minutes, then drain. If using powdered gelatin, sprinkle it over 1/4 cup cold water in a small dish and set aside to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the softened gelatin to the warm cream, stirring until it is thoroughly melted. Strain the cream mixture through a fine sieve into a medium bowl, running the vanilla bean halves between your thumb and forefinger to remove as many of the tiny flavorful seeds as possible. Stir in the Grand Marnier and ladle the mixture into the prepared ramekins. Let cool to room temperature, then cover each dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the pomegranate sorbet. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to help the sugar dissolve. Add the pomegranate juice and transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Set the bowl in a larger bowl of ice water to quickly cool, then refrigerate until fully chilled. When cold, pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer the sorbet to an airtight container and freeze until ready to serve.

For the pomegranate syrup, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to help the sugar dissolve. Add the pomegranate juice and simmer over medium heat until the syrup is reduced slightly, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. Take the sorbet from the freezer and let it sit on the counter for 15 to 20 minutes (or in the refrigerator for about 1 hour) before serving.
To serve, warm the bottom of one of the ramekins with a dish towel warmed in hot water. Set the ramekin upside down on a chilled plate and shake to help unmold it. Repeat with the remaining ramekins. Set a tuile on top of each panna cotta and form small quenelles shape (football shape) of the pomegranate sorbet, setting them on top of the tuiles. Drizzle the pomegranate syrup and crème anglaise around the panna cottas, scatter a few pomegranate seeds over the sauce, and serve right away.

Makes 8 servings


Tuile Cookies

Tuile cookies can be made in a wide variety of shapes. Circles can be served flat, or in a curve reminiscent of the roof tiles for which the cookies are named. To form them this way, lay the baked, still-warm cookie rounds over a rolling pin until cooled and set. You can also lay the warm cookie over an upside-down small ramekin or another small dish, gently pressing the edges down around the dish while still pliable. When cooled, this will give you an elegant, edible serving dish in which to serve mousse, ice cream, or just fresh berries with a dab of whipped cream.
Circles can be formed free-hand. For more elaborate forms, such as stars, leaves, or crescents, make yourself a simple template. Use the large plastic top from a yogurt or other similar container (trim the outer rim from the lid), or even plastic sheets purchased at an office supply store, washed before using. Use the tip of an Exacto knife or small scissors to carefully cut away the desired shape from the center of the plastic, then spread the tuile batter within this template. A small offset spatula is the best tool for maintaining a thin but even surface across each cookie.

Ingredients

2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted

Whip the egg whites in a large bowl until frothy, then gradually add 1/4 cup of the sugar and continue mixing until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites form soft peaks. Combine the butter and the remaining 1/4 cup of the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat at medium speed until well blended. Run the back of a knife blade down the length of the vanilla bean halves to scrape out the tiny vanilla seeds and add them to the creamed butter. Fold in the egg whites followed by the flour, folding just until evenly blended. Refrigerate the tuile batter for at least 1 hour before baking.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a heavy baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

Use an off-set or another flat spatula to spread the tuile batter in the desired shape on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the edges are just beginning to turn brown and the centers are firm, 5 to 7 minutes. Use a metal spatula to immediately lift the cookies from the tray and lay them over a rolling pin to cool (or transfer to a wire rack to cool flat). When the cookies have cooled enough to set, transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining batter. Store in an airtight container until ready to serve. Tuile cookies are at their best baked just a few hours before serving, though the batter can be made a day in advance.

Makes 3 to 4 dozen cookies (depending on the size and shape)
From: Rover's Cookbook by Ten Speed Press