Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Labne and Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Sour Cherry compote and Granola



I am a planner… I really meticulous planner… down to the very last detail and if for some reason things do not go as planned I get pissed, confused and then pissed again.  I am very enticed by the concept of “spur of the moment” as long as it was planned… I do fully realize that it makes me freaky and inflexible, but I figure leopards don’t change their spots so it is too late to fix me now.   On top of being an obsessive planner I seem to have developed memory lapses probably due to a complete mind overload, which is my life.  So now I am the worst kind of a planner, the one who cannot remember what she planned. 
When I go grocery shopping I need to have at least an overall idea of what I am cooking or what am I looking for.  If I do not, I sometimes end up with a bazaar basket of disjointed products just because they looked good or interesting.  It is almost like coming home with a “Chopped” basket, what the hell do you do with baby bananas, sword fish wild mushrooms on the same day?  It could be fun to come up on a fly with ways to use these but I am a planner, so I stick with the planned… this means that all of these obscure ingredients sit in my pantry or fridge and grow mold, because they somehow did not fit into my intent.  I hate to waste good food, so sometimes I bite the bullet and try and come up with dishes based on what I have, not what I aimed for. 
Recently I stared at buttermilk and labne in my fridge and wondered what the hell was I thinking when I bought it.  I might have had something in mind but I couldn’t remember what it was and I mentally searched through my typical dishes that I normally use these for…fried chicken, pancakes, green-goddess dip…? None of the usual suspects were supported by anything else I had on hand, so I kept on ignoring the two jars in the fridge until the expiration date was almost upon me.  I could bear the thought of throwing something out just because it didn’t fit into my menu so I came up with a quick and easy way to use them…. Labne and Buttermilk Panna Cotta. 
Labne is a Middle Eastern strained yogurt, it similar to Greek yogurt but is tangier and unlike sour cream it is heavier in texture, almost like cheese.  Buttermilk is of course a great tangy and versatile ingredient and I sometimes substitute part of milk with it just to give something another level of flavor.
Panna Cotta is an Italian milk pudding which ideally should be made with freshest, best tasting milk and cream.  I first had it in Florence and I can still remember not too sweet desert that tasted of pure raw milk…  Since I am unlikely to find milk this good at the Stop n Shop, I went into the buttermilk and labne round.  Topped with homemade sour cherry compote and granola, it was not to sweet, decadent and a good finish to a Sunday dinner. 
Labne and Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Sour Cherry compote and Granola
Makes about 8 3 oz deserts
1.5 cup of Labne ( you can use Plain Greek yogurt as well)
2 cups Buttermilk
¾ cup of heavy cream
¼ cup of milk
1 cup sugar
3 tbs honey
2 packets of gelatin (or about 1.5 tbs)

For the Cherry compote
2 cups fresh or frozen sour cherries (pitted)
1 cup sugar
½ lemon sliced
1/3 cup of water

Whisk the labne, buttermilk and honey and set aside.  In a small sauce pan, combine cream, milk and sugar and heat until very hot but not boiling and the sugar is fully dissolved.  Whisk in the gelatin and stir until it is fully dissolved.  Pour the cream mixture into the buttermilk mixture slowly and constantly whisking.  Whisk until smooth.  Pour immediately into small ramekins, desert dishes or wine glasses and let set in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hrs or until set.  This can be done a day ahead of serving.
Make the compote by combining all of the ingredients and brining to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until the consistency is between jam and syrup.  The liquid should start coating the back of the spoon but still flow freely when chilled. 
When ready to serve, top each panna cotta with the cherry compote (at room temperature or slightly warmer) and homemade granola for crunch (you can see my recipe for healthy granola here).

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