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Recipe: ispahan panna cotta

The longest day of the year just ended (well, the daylight part). I rather love the late light of the summer solstice. One year we were backpacking in Jasper National Park (Canada) on the solstice. I remember throwing disc with Jeremy in a huge field of wildflowers and green grasses that was littered with elk poop. Good incentive to NOT drop the frisbee. It was 9:30 pm and we didn’t crawl into our tent until 11:00 pm. It was still light enough to see without a headlamp. Love that.

While testing a high-altitude conversion for a cookie recipe this afternoon, I exchanged several emails with my lovely friend, Helen, discussing people’s manners – or rather the lack thereof. Face it, if you maintain a blog that gets a decent amount of traffic, you will inevitably encounter crackpot or inappropriate comments. Reminds me of the person who wanted a refund from Peabody for the cost of ingredients for a muffin recipe they got from her blog that they didn’t like. Wha?! I guess it isn’t just manners, but also an indication that the offender doesn’t reside on the Plane of Reality. For some reason, because people don’t have to say it to your face, they feel as if they can behave poorly and say stupid stupid things over the internet. So uncool.

The majority of my commenters are an incredibly funny, sweet, and caring group of people – they are so wonderful! And they respect me for the person I am. That means a lot because when you have cancer, plenty of people think this is an open invitation for their “advice” and I do use that term loosely. I appreciate how people have expressed their kind sentiments to me with, “I wish you well” or “I am praying for you” or “you are in my thoughts”. I don’t pray, but it’s okay if someone else wants to pray. However, it is not okay for someone to tell me what to believe in terms of faith. That is not only rude, but hugely disrespectful.

So what did I manage to do with all of today’s daylight? Here’s a sampling, but you can visit the photoblog for the full rundown.

i shot this in my yard

kaweah came over and licked the flower then stepped on it before settling down

the cookies worked

happy hour fare: duck crêpes

can someone identify this wildflower?

giant cumulus at sunset

To usher in this delightful season that turns our mountain environment into a fleeting lush paradise, I made a panna cotta recipe based loosely on Pierre Hermé’s ispahan macaron. The flavors include rose petal, lychee, and raspberry.

scraped vanilla bean

boiled cream, milk, and vanilla bean seeds

I had the intention of making my own rose petal syrup, but couldn’t find any organic roses. So I made my syrup with rose flower water, which was more subtle and less rosy. The cream base was flavored with vanilla bean and the rose syrup. I’ve never used vanilla bean before and when I removed the whole bean from its packaging, I smelled orchids rather than vanilla. It was lovely and transported me back to my grad student days when I used to “babysit” an orchid greenhouse.

stirring in sugar

I set raspberries and a lychee (canned) in each glass and then poured the cream mixture over the fruit. The rose syrup had a weak scent/flavor to it, but when I fished the lychees out of their can, the perfume of the fruit inspired ideas. I will have to try a lychee panna cotta next, because I think *that* is the kind of fragrance and flavor I am shooting for.

placing the fruit

pouring the cream

After letting the panna cotta set up in the refrigerator for a few hours, I poured some of the rose syrup (adding a touch of red coloring to give it a pink tint) on top before serving. I think the syrup is so delicate (i.e. weak) that I could do without it. Maybe if I get my hands on some bottled rose petal syrup, I might feel differently. However, the combination of the fruit flavors with the panna cotta was beautiful. It tastes like summery perfume, a flower garden with the texture of silk. Really enjoyable on this first day of summer!

a panna cotta based on a macaron

Ispahan Panna Cotta
[print recipe]
adapted from Creamy Rose Panna Cotta from Food & Wine

1 cup cream
1 cup milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split
1/4 cup rose syrup
3 tbsps sugar
1 1/2 tsps gelatin
2 tbsps water
1/4 cup raspberries
5-6 lychees

rose syrup
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsps rose water
1 1/2 tbsps lemon juice
red food coloring (optional)

Rose Syrup: Boil water and sugar together for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in the rose water and lemon juice. Set aside 1/4 cup for the panna cotta. Add a touch of red food coloring (optional) to the remaining syrup to create a light pink tint.

Panna Cotta: Combine the cream, milk, and vanilla bean in a saucepan and bring to boil. Remove from heat and cover for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let sit for 5 minutes. Discard the vanilla bean. Stir the gelatin, sugar, and rose syrup into the cream mixture. Place a lychee and a few raspberries in each serving vessel. Pour cream mixture over the fruit until almost covered. Refrigerate panna cotta until firm. Before serving, pour a little rose syrup over the panna cotta.

29 nibbles at “summertime”

  1. matthew says:

    Those wild flowers look similar to ranunculus, part of the buttercup family- there are loads of cultivars mainly originating in south africa and the americas. Icould be totally wrong however :P love your blog, your pohotgraphy and your food- all the best:)

  2. manggy says:

    I tryed this and it did not solidifyed. Raspberrys are hard to come by here. Who will pay for my wasted raspberrys? You? Hee. Sort of like that? You know, stupidity is so easy to detect that I’m surprised those commenters don’t catch themselves. Maybe they just get a kick out of disturbing other people. Whatever, I’m happy to highlight their idiocy with calm, measured statements.

    I checked out the photos– that Kaweah, such a model :) Looks like you had an absolute feast too! Wish I coulda been there!

    Even though I would give my left bollock for limitless raspberries (KIDDING– I wouldn’t), I’m iffy on lychees. I feel sad whenever people rave about the Ispahan because I’m not able to appreciate it. My friends also are not fans– whenever there’s a dessert with lychees in it, many of them give me their cups, and force me to eat it, so what’s left are cups of lychees with the dessert eaten around them :) But the dessert does look very beautiful and elegant– maybe you could make mine without the lychee in it, heh :) Also beautiful in an entirely different way– the cookies! I’m always happy when you’re cooking up a storm :)

  3. annie@toomuchgarlic says:

    yum, yum, yum. those raspberries look AMAZING.

  4. Tim says:

    That panna cotta looks terrific. It makes me so happy to see little specks of vanilla seeds — it’s a sign that the cook cares about what they’re doing and you know you’re about to have a great dessert. I once ate with someone who was about to send back their food because, they said, “there’s pepper in my custard!”. Oh dear :D

  5. Antonio Tahhan says:

    Jen, you’re such an artist!! I wish I knew where my grandmother got me rose essence. It’s about 100x more potent that rose water and is what I use to make rose syrups for all my Middle Eastern desserts. I’m pretty sure she brought it from the Middle East, but maybe she knows of other places that sell it.
    These panna cotta cups look heavenly : )

  6. Becky says:

    this looks wonderful and your photos are amazing – as usual. and now i want to try the macarons that inspired this recipe. i wish pierre herme had a store in the u.s.!

  7. Ginny says:

    That top shot it just stunning! Gorgeous…food looks mighty yummy! :)

  8. Graeme says:

    Intricate! I knew it’d only be a matter of time after that MeMe before we started to see the rocket scientist in you emerging. Yes, you’re a rocket scientist to me now.

    That cloud scares me. I have a mild “ominous cloud” phobia; I google image’d “mammatus clouds” and the sense of looming sense of doom they cast over everything is terrifying!

  9. Kitt says:

    Inspiring as always! I would love some of that panna cotta right now.

    Haven’t seen that wildflower before; I guess I should get to your altitude more! (If you haven’t found an answer later, I’ll look in my wildflower guides when I get home.)

  10. peabody says:

    I wanted to beat the crap out of the person who left that comment on Helen’s blog. I mean, really, what an ass.
    The panna cotta looks so very beautiful, though the wildflowers out shine it just a little. :)

  11. Laura says:

    LOL! The pic of your dog with the commentary under it right after the lovely pic of the flower she licked and stepped on cracked me up! SO typical (I have canine beasties myself).

    Oh and I agree about the internet making people think they don’t need to mind their Ps and Qs–very annoying.

  12. Pam says:

    The food is beautiful, but, the doggie wins for the cutest ever!

  13. Laura @ HungryAndFrozen says:

    That panna cotta looks and sounds utterly amazing, what a seriously cool idea. I quite like tinned lychees :) And at least not enough rose flavour is better than too much…

  14. White On Rice Couple says:

    Staring at this unidentified wildflower is killing me. I don’t have a identification book of CO to help me, only my Jepson of California. It’s hard to ID it because I need the flowers open, to see the arrangement of stamens and pistils. The picture shows good foliage features and well as the detailed white hairs on the stem. From what I can see there are six petals, but it could also be a set of 3 petals and 3 sepals. From just the foliage alone, my immediate guess would be in the Aster family, but the petals (or sepals) are not disk like nor ray like. The leaves are very Aster-ish to me, but guessing on that alone could be very incorrect. Eeek! It’s killing me!

    Jerks out there hide behind their computers and say what ever they want….cowards! It’s a shame that there are such idiots out ther who demand a refund! I hope Peabody ripped into them! They’re all a bunch of cyper cowards!

    But the panna cotta beauty is calming me down. It’s just gorgeous and refreshing. Love the lychees! I’ve got tons of fresh ones! If you want some, I’ll send em to ya!

  15. Mrs Ergül says:

    Ah, I don’t take preaching. And that’s already not nice. But telling another person which religion to follow is totally out of place. My husband doesn’t even try to convert me and if someone else tries that on me, he better watch out!

    I love the combination in your panna cotta! Lychee is more Asian while raspberry is more western. And I love both of these! But I think I will try the lychee version first cuz it’s easily available here and it doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg!

  16. cookworm says:

    I love the look of that panna cotta (not to mention the wildflowers!) – any clue on quantities to use when substituting agar for the gelatine, though?

  17. Tartelette says:

    I think it was my week to be tested. The day after that stupid comment I received, a lady was in front of me at the cash register at the grocery store and when she went to pay she was short of 50 cents or so. I had change in my hand so I handed it over to the cashier, well….all I heard was a mumble of a thank you and she did not even turn around to say it. Really, what is wrong with some people lately?!!

    So now I see the cookies…Yum! and that panna cotta…dreamy! A lychee one would be awesome for sure! I just love looking at raspberries :)

  18. Diana Banana says:

    Umm, your beautiful photos of all this food (and especially the sushi from the last post) made me really hungry, and I don’t have anything in my fridge. Since you were the one who made me start thinking about food, you should reimburse me for whatever I decide to order in for dinner tonight. I mean, it’s only the responsible thing for you to do, ya know….

  19. heather says:

    i just found your site. What beautiful pictures, and this recipe sounds delicious, too!

  20. jenyu says:

    Matthew – turns out you were right, sir! Give that man a prize! :) Thanks!!

    Mark – What I find most interesting is how the commenters perpetrate bad behavior upon me and when I reject it (either by deleting comments or stating that I reject it) they immediately act as if *they* are a victim and that I am attacking them for being (some examples) Italian, or Christian, or…??? How lame is that? No – it’s because they are either stupid, rude, or both. I can’t believe you aren’t a fan of lychees?! I am crazy about them. It’s a toss up between lychees and passion fruit. Both are just so lovely to me – especially when fresh. Ahhhhh :) I wonder which would happen first, you liking lychees or Graeme liking sushi? ;)

    Annie – thank you!

    Tim – oh my goodness! For the price of vanilla beans, that really would be sad to mistake them for pepper :)

    Antonio – you’re so sweet :) Wow, what your grandma got you sounds incredible! I think I may try an organic rose petal syrup from Italy. I can order it online and it sounds pretty nice. I am cuckoo for Middle Eastern sweets – they are heavenly!

    Becky – Oh, I wish I had the guts to give macarons a go. They are on my todo list for the summer :) I’ve never had the Ispahan macaron though, but it sounds delish.

    Ginny – thanks so much!

    Graeme – ha ha ha, I’m no rocket scientist, love. I’m just a geek :) I guess you guys don’t get these kind of clouds over GB? We border the Great Plains, so there is some dramatic and beautiful (and also destructive) weather in these parts. If you come to visit, I will protect you from the puffy clouds :)

    Kitt – Thanks for the offer! I checked my books too and it was much easier to ID once I got a look at the flowers when they were open (see the most recent post).

    Peabody – yeah, I think the flowers are prettier too. Good thing you and I did not see that person in the flesh or else there would have been some whoopass to dish out ;)

    Laura – She does that ALL the time! We have to be very careful not to point to flowers or she’ll EAT them.

    Pam – awww, thanks!

    Laura@H&F – this is true. Too much rose flavor can turn the experience south quickly.

    WoRC – ha ha! You are a true plant geek and I love it! Can I carry you in my backpack whenever I go hiking?!? :) Check out the next post for the bloomed flower pic. People who behave badly online are probably jerks on the road too, eh? Bad communication skills – no manners… You are such a dear! Don’t send me your lychees! I’ll come to So Cal and get them in due time :) xxoo

    Mrs. E – I hear ya, hon! Oh, I wish how lychees didn’t cost an arm and a leg here :)

    Cookworm – oh, I’m really sorry, but I’ve never used agar before. Since it’s about 2+ cups of liquid, I would use the standard amount of agar for that quantity of liquid and see how it works?

    Tartelette – Manners. Or maybe it’s not even manners but just the attitude that it’s good to be nice and considerate of others by default? I dunno. Thankfully the majority of interactions I have with people are good and only a few rotten apples appear from time to time. A yes, dear – these are the cookies I spoke of. Now I want to try your mojito jelly recipe!

    Diana – ha ha ha! I’ll refer you to my friend, Peabody :)

    Heather – thank you!

  21. Patricia Scarpin says:

    Well, I think you have made the Master very proud. This is a beautiful, delicate creation, Jen – I’ll be using it next time I have special guests over!

  22. Christine says:

    Jen – this is really one of the most elegant and beautiful desserts I’ve come across. I love all the components here. And the way you set the cream in the glasses is awesome. I think it was smart to use bottled rose water instead of trying to locate untreated roses. Warda, of 64sqftkitchen, gifted me a bottle of Cortas brand rose water flower (as well as a bottle of orange flower water). I also read in Alice Medrich’s latest cookbook that she preferred that brand for rosewater/orange flower water too. Both are really great – although I like the orange flower water a lot. If you can’t locate that brand in your area, let me know and I can hook you up :)

    You know, I’d love to try making this dessert sometime. I think it’d be fun to add a little gelatin to the rose syrup so that it sets a little on top of the cream.

  23. jenyu says:

    Patricia – thank you! I hope you and your guests enjoy it!

    Christine – I think I’m going to order a bottle of rose petal syrup that was recommended by the chef who sourced the original recipe. I’m curious about other recs too though. Thanks for the offer! I was also debating making the rose syrup a gelatin, but decided to let it ooze over the panna cotta when you dip in with the spoon. I still like the jello idea though :)

  24. Sophie says:

    I’m Sophie, Key Ingredient’s Chief Blogger. We would like to feature your adapted Panna Cotta recipe on our blog. Please email if interested. Thanks :)


  25. bookaholic_au says:

    A beauty. You’ve never used vanilla beans before???? They are so awesome. Our parish was given crates of the stuff recently by an indonesian village (long story), so I (or my Mum) got heaps for nothing. I soak used vanilla beans in a cup of brandy and a tablespoon of sugar to extract the remaining flavour. I then use this as a substitute for vanilla essence.

  26. jenyu says:

    BA – yup, there are a lot of uses for used vanilla beans.

  27. Cathy says:

    This recipe looks awesome, I was Googling “ispahan” and found this blog. I love these flavors in a macaron, I’ll bet they’re even better in something light and cool like panna cotta. And duck crepes? Holy smokes, Sister! I wish I could eat at your house.
    I don’t know you, but I really hope you’re doing well.

    P.S. Your flower’s an anemone.

  28. jenyu says:

    Cathy – Thanks! I’m doing great :) And yes, we figured it’s identity out after it bloomed! yay!

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