A short post, because work is brutal, life is brutal and weather is brutal. If memory serves me well, this was the coldest P-day weekend in close to twenty years that I've been in this country. We stayed inside all the time, and now that the clock is ticking and it's time to go back to work, I feel robbed of the long weekend.
On Saturday, the heaters were about to explode, I could hear the steam hitting the pipes relentlessly, but it was not enough to defeat the cold.
On Sunday we resorted to wearing coats and caps inside the apartment, and doodling spring flowers in a rain-dance-like act of desperation to get the chill out.
"Perhaps the chill will put us into the state of hibernation," Miss Pain said, "and we can wake up in the spring."
It was so cold that I forgot that Sunday was the V-day. And now, not only that I am robbed of the P-day weekend, I am robbed of the V-day too.
On a positive side, I finally took care of all the citruses I piled up in an attempt to secure good luck for the Chinese New Year. I made an intoxicatingly perfumed pink grapefruit panna cotta first; it was somewhat inspired by Chef Thomas Keller's Cauliflower Panna Cotta with Beluga Caviar, from his French Laundry Cookbook. And yes, I know that cauliflower and pink grapefruit have nothing in common, but I love the precision of Chef Keller's instructions, and that recipe really made me understand panna cotta. I also made David Lebovitz's kumquats marmalade. I've been eying it for a while, and it came in handy, taking care of my pound and a half of kumquats and four remaining Meyer lemons.
On a negative side, do you have any idea how long it takes to pit and slice a pound and a half of kumquats? It was a project that consumed almost the entire long weekend. And now that I've given it some serious thought, it's not the cold that robbed me of the P-day, it was the kumquats.
Double Delight Pink Grapefruit Panna Cotta
There are two sides to each grapefruit, the juice and the zest, hence there are two parts to this pannacotta. The soft (and unmoundable, do not attempt) center is made of grapefruit juice, cream and mascarpone, the zest goes into the light, almost liquid jelly that coats the dessert. Hence the double delight. To serve, garnish with a slice of grapefruit, tangerine, orange zest or mint leaf.
for the pannacotta
* 3/4 cup whole milk
* 3/4 cup heavy cream
* 3/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice (juice from one medium-sized pink grapefruit)
* 3/4 cup mascarpone
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1/4 vanilla bean
* 3 sheets of gelatin
for the jelly
* 1/2 cup water
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 3/4 of a gelatin sheet
* zest of one grapefruit, grated on a microplane
* 10-12 1/3-cup bowls or ramekins
First make the pannacotta. In a heavy-bottom saucepan mix milk, cream and sugar. Cut the vanilla bean in half, scrape the seeds and add to the mixture together with vanilla bean. Over medium heat bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer for about a minute or two until the mixture slightly thickens. Remove from the heat, cover and let the mixture steep for about half an hour. Strain into a bowl.
Pour grapefruit juice into a small bowl and add gelatin. Soak for about two to three minutes until gelatin is very soft -- there should be no hard sections. Stir the juice and the gelatin into the warm milk mixture until dissolved. Slowly whisk in mascarpone. Pour the mixture into the ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for about four hours, before adding the jelly on top.
When ready to add the jelly, in a small saucepan mix the sugar, water and grapefruit zest. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer, and simmer for about five minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat cover and steep for about two to three hours. Strain and return to the saucepan. Keep warm. Soak the remaining half sheet of gelatin sheet in cold water for about two to three minutes until gelatin is very soft. Squeeze the excess liquid from the gelatin and stir into the warm syrup. Place the syryp into refridgerator and stir occasionally until it has thickened to the consistency of cooking oil. Coat the tops of the chilled pannacotta with jelly, rotating the bowls to ensure even coating. Cover with plastic wrap and return to refrigerator for a couple of hours or up to one day.