Chef's Day Off (May, 2001)

  Crème Fraîche Panna Cotta with Strawberry Purée

The Chef

Serves six.

1 and 1/2 cups cream
1 cup milk
1/2 cup buttermilk (milk can be substituted)
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split
1 cup crème fraîche
1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
Strawberry purée:
1 pound ripe strawberries, hulled (raspberries, peaches, or blueberries can be substituted)
1 tablespoon sugar or to taste
1 teaspoon lemon juice or to taste

Cooking Instructions
Panna cotta:
Pour the cream, milk, buttermilk, sugar, and vanilla bean into a saucepan, and bring to a simmer over high heat. Remove from heat and whisk in the crème fraîche. Scrape the vanilla bean to remove remaining seeds. Pour the cream mixture through a strainer and add the gelatin to the hot mixture, stirring until it has dissolved.

Pour evenly into 6 molds or martini glasses, or into a 1-quart souffle dish. Chill to set for at least 3 hours.

Strawberry purée
Put two thirds of the strawberries in a food processor, and purée until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon lemon juice, purée again, and, depending on the ripeness of the fruit, adjust sugar and lemon juice to taste. Strain though a fine sieve to remove seeds (optional).

Unmold panna cotta onto a plate, and pour about 2 tablespoons purée around each serving. Garnish with remaining strawberries.