This is a very quick hello so this space doesn’t go too quiet while I ride out the business that September is turning out to be and count down the days until I have time to test all the recipe ideas clogging up my iphone notes and black moleskin notebooks.
If you follow me on instagram, you will have seen that I was lucky enough to spend a week in Italy during the summer, more specifically in Sorrento, to celebrate the wedding of two dear friends.
Sorrento, at least once you leave the main tourist hubs behind, is as beautiful as you would imagine that rugged stretch of coast to be. And thanks to my friend David’s meticulous research we totally lucked out with our airbnb which featured a gloriously large pool, stunning views over Capri and a massive outdoor barbecue. But I must admit I was possibly more excited about the big fig tree on the property, its branches already heavy from the weight of the ripening fruit. It was still somewhat early in the season so despite my best efforts all I managed to collect was a small bowl of figs. But those were nonetheless as sweet and jammy on their own as I remembered them and even better when paired with fresh buffalo mozzarella.
But while decent figs are relatively easy to come by even here in Brussels (although most of them are the purple variety and are imported from Turkey), what is more difficult to find (and what I get even more excited about) are fresh fig leaves. I have spoken about my love of them before (fact: I currently own 3 fig-scented perfumes) so I made sure to pack some fig leaves into my suitcase. My friend Marc was somewhat bewildered and made me promise to share whatever I was going to concoct with them. So when my friend Fred decided to organise a last minute barbecue a week ago I decided to use those leaves for a fig leaf panna cotta paired with some barely sweetened roasted figs. And since that panna cotta was a huge success with people going back for seconds and thirds I wanted to quickly share the recipe.
Fig leaf panna cotta
Note: Fig leaves have an intriguing aroma (and flavour) that is all their own. The closest comparison I can think of is coconut with a hint of green tea and some fruity undertones. If you cannot get hold of fresh fig leaves, ideally blemish-free and from a tree not right by a busy road, I hear blackberry leaves are equally delicious for this. You can serve the panna cotta as is or alongside some roasted figs (count 1 fig per person, cut into quarters, sprinkle with a little bit of sugar and roast in a 180 degree oven for 30-40 mins).
5-6 dried fig leaves
2.5 leaves of gelatine
Heat the cream till it starts to steam. Take off the heat and whisk in the sugar followed by the crumbled up fig leaves. Cover and set aside to infuse for 30 minutes.
Strain and discard the fig leaves.
Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes.
Reheat the cream until it starts to steam. Stir in the gelatine until it dissolves. Distribute the panna cotta evenly between four ramekins large enough to hold at least 125ml of liquid.
Place in the fridge to set for 3-4 hours or overnight.
To serve, briefly dip the ramekins into a bowl of hot water then carefully invert onto a plate. If using, serve with a few roasted fig segments and some of the fig juices from the roasting pan.