Low-fat sugar-free panna cotta with raspberry compote

In my earlier post I shared a recipe for a heavy cream based panna cotta topped with mango coulis. Now, I will show you how to make a healthier version of this delicious dessert. It is great for people on diets and those looking to avoid sugar. It is actually a diabetic friendly recipe too.

Panna Cotta with blackberry compote (Serves 4)

  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons Splenda (or sugar substitute)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 packets powdered gelatin
  • 5 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 cups fresh blackberries
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch

Heat the milk, heavy cream and Splenda in a saucepan on medium heat. Once the sugar is dissolved, stir in the vanilla extract and gelatin. Remove from heat and set aside. Lightly oil four custard cups with cooking spray. Divide the Panna Cotta mixture into 4 prepared cups. Refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours. 

In another saucepan, heat the blackberries, 2 tablespoon Splenda and lemon juice. Bring to boil, then simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes till the blackberries dissolve into a paste. Slowly whisk in the corn starch and cook for 1 more minute until just blended. Remove from heat and cool completely before serving.

Before serving, remove the panna cotta from the bowls and transfer to serving plates by turning the bowl upside down. Pour generous heaps of the blackberry compote over each panna cotta serving. Garnish with mint sprigs and fresh blackberries. Serve and enjoy!

If you like this recipe, consider making a small donation to our nonprofit organization, Go Eat Give.

Panna Cotta two ways

mango panna cotta

This Easter I decided to experiment with a couple of panna cotta recipes. If you are not familiar with panna cotta, it is a light Italian pudding commonly found at Italian restaurants. The basic panna cotta is made with milk or cream, sugar, gelatin and vanilla. Fruit toppings are then added to enhance the flavor and presentation.

I tried two versions of the panna cotta and both of them turned out to be delicious. If you are looking for an easy to make dessert to serve on warm summer nights, these are your go-to recipes. Prepare the night before and serve chilled for best results.

Panna cotta with fresh mango coulis (Serves 4)

This recipe for the base has been adopted from David Lebovitz’s web site. I used fresh mangoes I found at my local farmer’s market. For this recipe, you want to use ripe mangoes that have a lot of pulp and flavor.

2 cups heavy cream
mango panna cotta1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 packet powdered gelatin
3 tablespoons cold water
1 cup fresh mango pulp, from 2 mangoes

Heat the heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan or microwave. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
Lightly oil four custard cups with cooking spray.
Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.
Pour the very warm Panna Cotta mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
Divide the Panna Cotta mixture into the prepared cups

2 tablespoon sugar
1 packet powdered gelatin
1 tablespoon dark rum

Cook the mango pulp with the sugar on low heat in a small saucepan until sugar is dissolved.
Add the gelatin, rum and a pinch of chili powder and continue to cook for 2 more minutes stirring continuously.
Take off from heat and allow to cool completely.
Divide the mango coulis equally over the prepared cups. Chill until firm, at least four hours or overnight.

Read more for Low-fat sugar-free panna cotta with blackberry compote

If you like this recipe or other recipes on our web site, please consider making a donation to Go Eat Give

Sami’s organic lamb lasagna

Over the past few years, I have stayed away from lasagna, even though I love it. Reason being I was trying to heat healthy when given the option, and avoiding red meats. But when my friend, Sami brought over a large pan of her homemade organic lamb lasagna, I gave it a try and was hooked! A slight twist on the traditional Italian classic but retaining all of same textures and balances. It was the perfect combination of tender meat, not too tangy sauce, al dente noodles and the right amount of cheese. Everyone loved it!

With Fall around the corner, this is a comfort dish that will keep your entire family satisfied. Also, it makes good leftovers.

Sami purchases meats and vegetables from local farms that deliver to your door every week. Gegorgia Organics has a list of them where you can search by zip code. You pay a flat fee and state what size basket you would like. Some places require a weekly pickup. It makes a huge difference in the flavor, if you use organic vs. regular ingredients.

Organic Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground lamb or goat (grass-fed beef ok too)
  • 1.5 onion, chopped
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 (29 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 12 dry lasagna noodles (whole wheat better)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 pint whole ricotta cheese
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup choppsed fresh parshley (I used 2 tablespoons dried parsley since I didn’t have fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. In large skillet brown ground meat, onion and garlic. Mix in basil, oregano, brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Can make this ahead of time.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees using convection setting. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add lasagna noodles, and cook until al dente; drain. Lay noodles flat on towels, and blot dry.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, ricotta, Parmesan cheese, parsley and 1 teaspoon salt.
  4. Layer 1/3 of the lasagna noodles in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Cover noodles with 1/3 ricotta mixture, 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese and 1/3 of the sauce. Repeat. Top with remaining noodles, ricotta mixture and sauce. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.
  5. Spray foil w/ nonstick oil and cover the whole thing. Bake 40 minutes; take foil off and bake for another 15-20 minutes (watch carefully so it doesn’t burn). Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

If you like this recipe, consider making a small donation to our nonprofit organization, Go Eat Give.

A taste of Italy a casa mia

The Italian language club, Ciancia met at my place last night. I have to say it was one of my most memorable evenings. Not sure if it was because of the wine, the food, or the conversations, or a combination of all of the above.

I prepared some wine and cheese platters, antipasto, penne arrabiata and fettuccini with white truffles. A good friend had gifted me a jar of fresh white truffles for my birthday, which I decided to use on this special occasion. I made a simple sauce of butter, cream, salt and pepper. Then I tossed it with the fettuccini and grated parmesan. Finally, I shaved the truffles on top and then gently tossed the pasta before serving.

People from all walks of life gathered in interest of a mutual passion for Italian food and language. The linguistic skills ranged from zero to native, so you could join in a conversation of your aptitude. Each person was required to bring a bottle of Italian wine, a dish or pay $10. We had an upside down moussaka, penne with meat sauce, salads and endless bottles of red and white wines.  

The grand finale was my home made Gelato in three flavors – chocolate, mango and maple-walnut. I could not find a recipe for mango Gelato anywhere, so came up with my own. Needless to say, it was over before you knew it!

The crowd was very diverse and eclectic. We talked about everything from food, travel, music, living abroad, volunteering, to spiritually and business. I feel like I made some really good friends who share many mutual interests.

We wrapped up the evening at midnight, by when my feet were desperately asking for some rest. I went to bed with the lingering sweet taste of truffles in my mouth.

[oqeygallery id=7] 

Mango Gelato Recipe

Make the plain base and refrigerate overnight

Peel 2 ripe large mangos, take all the pulp out into a bowl. Cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, add all the mango pulp and 1 cup of the plain base in a blender. Blend until the mango is completely pureed and no chunks are remaining. Whisk into the rest of the plain base. Churn in ice cream machine for 30 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Pizza with Pizzazz

Instead of going out with friends for dinner, this Saturday night, I decided to host a pizza party at home. It wasn’t your typical order delivery and drink beer, rather a more mature and sophisticated pizza party for refined adults.

I bought fresh ingredients including pizza dough and toppings to make two different kinds of pizzas. The guests got a hands-on lesson in pizza making and were in the kitchen making pizza. We talked and cooking over a bottle of Chianti, making the evening more enjoyable and relaxed.

The first one we made was an eggplant goat cheese and pesto pizza. First, we sliced 1 medium eggplant into ¼ inch slices and lightly fried them in olive oil, until brown on both sides. Meanwhile, we finely chopped 3 cloves of garlic and rolled out our pizza dough onto a pizza stone. We first coated the sides of the pizza dough with olive oil, and then sprinkled the chopped garlic on top. The fried eggplant slices were arranged in a circle so that the entire surface was covered. This went in a 375F oven for 15 minutes. While we waited, we made a quick pesto using Knorr pesto sauce mix. Just followed the directions on the package. We then sprinkled the sauce over the pizza and added about 3 oz crumbled goat cheese. Now it was time to let it bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the crust was golden brown.

The second pizza was relatively simple as you didn’t need to cook the toppings. We used multi-grain dough to make the base. This time we used Knorr’s four cheese sauce mix and spread it evenly on the rolled out dough. We first baked the pizza throughout for 30-40 minutes until golden brown on the edges. For the toppings, we sprinkles ½ cups finely chopped purple onions, 2 tablespoon capers and 6 oz sliced smoked salmon. (You could even add fresh arugula leaves to it if you like.) This was our smoked salmon pizza.

Both pizzas were significantly different from each other and what you traditionally eat at pizzerias, but were delicious! The guests enjoyed it, learned something new and had a memorable dinner experience. It’s another example of how you can makeover a regular family meal into something with more pizzazz.

Making Gelato at home

Making Gelato at home takes time and commitment. It is not difficult, but needs some advance planning. Here is a basic recipe to make your own Dulce De Leche Gelato.

The first step is to make a base. This can be plain (which will be used in most flavors) or chocolate.

1. Combine 2 cups milk and 1 cup heavy cream in a saucepan, with a cooking thermometer attached. Place over medium-high heat and cook stirring occasionally, until it reaches 170F.

2. Meanwhile, with an electric mixer, whisk 4 egg yolks and 2/3 cup sugar, until mixture is thick and pale yellow.  Temper the eggs by adding the milk mixture one soup spoonful at a time, while whisking constantly.

3. Return the custard to the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 185F. At no point the custard should bowl or form skin on the top.

4. Pour the custard through a mesh strainer into a large bowl. Let cool at room temperature, then cover and refrigerate overnight. At this point, your freezer bowl (if using one) should be kept in the freezer overnight.

5.The following day, blend half of the custard mixture with ½ cup of Dulce le Leche (I use Nestle) but you can make your own with condensed milk. Blend until smooth, then whisk in the remaining custard. Pour into the ice cream machine and let it churn for 30 minutes (or as directed by your particular machine).

6. Warm ½ cup of Dulce le Leche in a microwave safe bowl. Drizzle it over the churned Gelato and let it churn for another 5 minutes. Transfer to an air tight, freezer safe bowl. Freeze at least 4 hours or overnight.

7. Enjoy with a cookie, over a dessert or by itself!

Tips on making homemade Gelato

          I have been making my own Gelato from scratch since last summer. It is a two-day labor-intensive but very rewarding process.  I have a new appreciation for it now that I am making my own. First thing I learned was Gelato is relatively healthier than ice-cream. Whereas ice-cream is made with 100% cream, Gelato is 1/3 cream and 2/3 whole milk. Also, one of the ingredients for Gelato is egg yolks, so it is not a strict vegetarian dessert.

Gelato making process is very similar to that of custard. In fact, some places in U.S. serve Frozen Custard, which is a similar concept.

It tastes best fresh but needs to be consumed within a week of preparation. Obviously, if you add preservatives and store in commercial refrigerators, different rules would apply. In casa mia, Gelato è servito fresco.

Gelato can be made at home in small batches only. I have a small machine that makes 2 Quarts max. I usually make 1 Quart at a time which fits comfortably in the freezer bowl and the storage containers. It serves 8-10 scoops.

I use only fresh ingredients – no frozen fruits, or pre-ground nuts. You can definitely taste the flavor of the ingredients. Occasionally, I do cheat and use grated coconut flakes or dulce de leche from a can. I have also tried alcohol in my Gelato and it tastes goooood!

Lastly, ice in Gelato is bad. When I go quality testing (for fun) at other Gelato shops, my two pet peeves are – creaminess and iciness. The texture of the Gelato should be creamy (like Greek yogurt) but not thick like ice cream. Often, you can taste bits of ice particles in the Gelato (a drawback of the kind of machine you are using for churning or freezing), which is a huge turnoff. I am in love with Gelato, not Sorbetto!

My next post will give step-by-step instructions on how you can make your own Gelato at home.

Chateau du Sucheta

On March 20, my neighbor Daniel Sklar wrote: Sucheta served a lovingly prepared three-course meal for four. 

She began the evening with an aperitif of red wine.  Her husband, Dipak, served as sommelier.  She expertly had on hand a nicely chilled non-alcoholic cold duck (a type of sparkling wine made from Visit SmileyCookie.com!burgundy and champagne) for the non-drinkers.  This was a nice touch.

A tasty salad was served as the first course.  Fresh baby spinach leaves were mixed with baby carrots, golden raisins, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, dried cranberries, and shredded cheeses.  The salad was tossed with a dressing made of apple vinegar and three cheeses.  A sliced avocado, ripe and of just the right softness, was added to give a wonderful creaminess to the starter.

The second course was a Sucheta specialty:  homemade roasted butternut squash ravioli.  A filling of pureed butternut squash, mascarpone cheese, parmesean cheese, and cinnamon was prepared.  Next, fresh pasta was made with semolina, rolled out with a pasta maker, and used with the squash filling to make individual ravioli.  The ravioli was cooked quickly in boiling water, drained, and immediately served with a light sauce of sage-infused olive oil and toasted walnuts.  Scrumptious!

The third course was a homemade chocolate mousse tart served a la mode with homemade dulce de leche gelato.  The bittersweet chocolate was a perfect compliment to the flaky crust.

The verdict:  elegant, tasty, and fully satisfying.  Sucheta has done it again!

 

My Eats featured on Tiny Green Mom

Tiny Green Mom has featured my recipe for Caponate Pasta Bake in her month long series of healthy recipes for the entire family. The blog is very informative for parents who are interested in a green lifestyle and latest organic products, amongst other things. Make sure to bookmark it.

I made the pasta last night for a Ciancia (Italian conversation club) get-together. It’s very healthy, flavorful and easy to make. Ciancia members meet once a month and each of us brings an Italian dish or wine to share, while we try to practise our language skills, network and meet friends. The next meeting will be at my place where I plan to make an assortment of Gelatos! If you have a favorite flavor, let me know and I would make sure to post the recipe for you…