panacotta or milk jelly?

February 28, 2011

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

I’m not sure what happened with my pannacotta. It seemed to set well. I followed Audax’s suggestions in his post to cool the cream mix at room temp before refrigerating and set some cream aside that was not heated, to make the panacotta extra creamy and relax the gelatine.

The panacotta was yum, and set well and creamy to taste, but there was a film of what I think was set milk, along with the settled vanilla seeds at the bottom of the glass. This didn’t taste bad or bland, but was really flavourful, like a jelly, so that’s what makes me think it was the milk. What made it separate? I don’t know. Everyone else seemed to like it. I topped it with a champagne jelly, which not everyone liked, including me, especially as I forgot to add sugar to the first bit that I put in. It was a vanilla champagne so I thought it would match the panacotta and I put in some berries. The berries alone would have been lovely with the panacotta, and I wish I’d left it at that.

I didn’t make the exact florentine recipe. It didn’t appeal to me. I’ve made florentines before and loved them, but they were made with more honey and held together lots of nuts and glace fruit, not like these plain ones in the recipe at all. I wasn’t going to make anything, but tried out an oatmeal choc chip cookie with pecans and cranberries later this month, so I’ve just included a pic of that to show I can bake biscuits!

Probably won’t make the panacotta again as I can’t figure out why it split and it seems a shame to make it when it’s not going to work well, even tho the taste was nice. An frankly, it’s just too fatty to think about, really something more of a special occasion that I would have it when I’m out to dinner, and then only once.


slurpy cool soba noodles

February 14, 2011

The February 2011 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by Lisa of Blueberry Girl. She challenged Daring Cooks to make Hiyashi Soba and Tempura. She has various sources for her challenge including,, and

I’ve always been afraid to try soba noodles, the idea of something made with something as health and ick sounding as buckwheat really didn’t lead me to think too highly of it. But I’m glad I tried them in this challange. They were so easy and fast to cook and flavor with the dressing, and very tasty and cool for summer. Slurping them up from a pool of dressing and crunchy julienne vegies was a real treat to eat, I felt like such a kid again.

The tempura I wasn’t so fond of. I’ve had tempura before and liked it,  but this batter was limp and chewy. I know tempura is meant to be chewy as well as crisp, but this just wasn’t, even though I had my batter ice cold with ice blocks in it. It’s not tempura, but next time I think I’ll make my favorite extra crisp batter for the tempura: add to a bowl of flower 1 ice cold corona, and it is crunchy crisp batter.

I will enjoy making the soba again. Here are the dipping sauces to poor over your soba once you have cooked and rinsed according to the packet. I topped my noodles with julienne carrots, snowpeas, cucumber, nori roasted seaweed, sliced ham and egg white omelette strips:

Mentsuyu – Traditional dipping sauce:

2 cups (480ml) Kombu and Katsuobushi dashi (This can be bought in many forms from most Asian stores and you can make your own. Recipe is HERE.) Or a basic vegetable stock.
1/3 cup (80 ml) soy sauce or a low sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup (80 ml) mirin (sweet rice wine)

  1. Put mirin in a sauce pan and heat gently. Add soy sauce and dashi soup stock in the pan and bring to a boil. Take off the heat and cool. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Spicy Dipping Sauce:

¾ cup 70gm/2½ oz spring onions/green onions/scallions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons (45 ml) soy sauce
2 tablespoons (30 ml) rice vinegar
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (4 ⅔ gm) (0.16 oz) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1/8 gm) (0.005 oz) English mustard powder
1 tablespoon (15 ml) grape-seed oil or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon (15 ml) sesame oil (if you can’t find this just omit from recipe.)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste – roughly 1/3 a teaspoon of each


1. Shake all the ingredients together in a covered container. Once the salt has dissolved, add and shake in 2 tablespoons of water and season again if needed.