Ever since I started thinking about St. Patrick’s Day recipes I’ve had Bailey’s Irish Cream on my mind. One of the recipes I love to make is panna cotta, an Italian custard made with cream and gelatin. It’s versatile, delicious and oh-so-easy. This recipe for Bailey’s Irish Cream panna cotta with espresso caramel is the very satisfying result of all my brain storming. It’s a little Irish, a lot delicious and sophisticated to boot. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Bailey’s Irish cream isn’t something we keep in the house; in fact this is the first bottle I ever purchased. It’s not something I order at a bar either. Still, I have nostalgia for the drink. My first experience with Bailey’s Irish cream was something to remember. I was 14 years old and staying at my grandmother’s home in St. Louis, Missouri for New Year’s Eve. As the clock ticked toward the New Year, she brought out a bottle of Bailey’s Irish cream with a flourish, along with two little shot glasses.
I was sitting in one of those big reclining swivel chairs when she handed me a glass and poured a little “nip” as she called it. The Bailey’s was strong and sweet and I had to shut my eyes and swallow it quickly just like cough medicine. I swiveled in my chair to hide my scrunched-up face as I swallowed it, rotating back into grandmother’s view with an empty glass. She was impressed with my drinking skills. I just wanted to swallow the stuff. She poured me another, and then another. That was the first time I was tipsy.
Grandmother would love this Bailey’s Irish Cream panna cotta. It’s smooth and creamy with just a little kick from the liquor. The salted espresso caramel sauce goes perfectly, with flavors reminiscent of tiramisu. This recipe is the perfec–elegant–way to end a St. Patrick’s Day meal. You can pour the panna cotta into little shot glasses, wineglasses or beer glasses to serve. You can harden the custard in a ramekin and turn them out onto plates, with the caramel sauce drizzled on top.
However you presented this dessert, it’s a delicious, boozy way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day—or any old day. One bonus I have to mention: This recipe makes enough of this crazy-yummy espresso caramel for an extra cup to save. Pour it in a little jar and drizzle it on ice cream or cheesecake or just eat it with a spoon.
This recipe wraps up my collection of St. Patrick’s Day recipes for 2014. Please check out my other recipes for some inspiration. I wish you and your family a happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Yield: 8 servings + extra sauce
Heat the cream and sugar in a heavy saucepan until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in vanilla extract.
-If you are using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds into the cream and drop in the vanilla pod. Let infuse for 30 minutes and then remove the bean. Reheat to continue..
-Lightly oil custard ramekins with a neutral tasting oil if you plan to turn out the custard onto plates.
In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water. Let sit for 10 minutes to allow it to "bloom".
Add the gelatin to the hot cream mixture and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Add the Bailey's Irish Cream
Pour the custard mixture into glasses or ramekins, dividing evenly. Chill until firm, about four hours.
In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of water and espresso powder.
In a heavy saucepan over low heat, stir remaining 6 tablespoons of water and sugar until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil sugar mixture about 8 minutes, swirling the caramel mixture until darker and bubbly.
Remove saucepan from heat. Add cream, butter, salt and coffee mixture to the caramel.
Return to heat. Boil the mixture, whisking constantly until smooth and thickened. Pour over chilled panna cotta and save remaining sauce in a canning jar for up to 2 weeks.
There was a restaurant in Salem, Massachusetts that served halibut with sherry cream sauce and I still crave it fifteen years later. They served a perfectly pan-seared filet of halibut perched on top of a bed of creamy mashed potatoes with asparagus. The best part was the intensely-flavored sherry cream sauce. Fantastic paired with any fish or seafood; this sauce is incredibly tasty.
This is the kind of sauce that can be difficult to create at home because the secret is in the stock. In the restaurant, they had an ample supply of shrimp and lobster shells, along with celery tops, herbs and onion skins available. Boiled for an afternoon, the stock was then strained and reduced with sherry and lots of cream. The result was a heady jolt of fresh seafood flavor, along with the flavors of celery and herbs mingling with sweet sherry.
Home chefs usually don’t go to all that trouble. Who has the time? With a baby at home, I sure don’t!
With a little creativity, I managed to make a pretty close approximation of the dish with easy-to-find ingredients. It didn’t take me all day and everyone loved it. I substituted a slab of roasted cauliflower for the mashed potatoes. It’s a fun way to serve this vegetable, and a great substitute for buttery mashed potatoes.
Do you have a favorite restaurant dish you would love to make at home? Please share in the comments!
Yield: 4 servings
Heat a heavy saucepan on medium heat. Melt the butter and add the shallots and celery. Sauté for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are lightly caramelized but not brown. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.
Deglaze the pan with the stock and sherry. Add the tomato paste and bring to a simmer. Continue to cook on low heat until the mixture is reduced, about 10 minutes.
Add the heavy cream and cook on low heat for 5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pat the halibut fillets dry and season both sides with salt and pepper.
Add olive oil in a skillet until shimmering. Add the halibut and cook on medium high heat until brown on the bottom, about five minutes. Flip the fillets and add the butter to the pan. Cook 2 minutes longer, tilting the pan and spooning the butter over the top of the fillets. Transfer fillets to a plate.
I have to admit; this isn’t a typical recipe for me. Chocolate cups? Strawberry mousse? I think I spent a little too much time on Pinterest last week looking at Valentine’s Day desserts. I wanted to make a chocolate mousse with champagne zabaglione, inside a freshly baked chocolate tart shell. Maybe I will someday. When it came down to it, I was tired and didn’t feel like spending hours in the kitchen while my toddler fussed…only to make a big (bigger) mess of my kitchen.
All the egg yolks too. That dessert would have a ton of eggs in it. I couldn’t do it.
Instead, I made chocolate cups, which are super-easy. I also made a fresh strawberry mousse, which doesn’t have any artificial food coloring or flavoring (yum!). Piped into the chocolate cups and served with fresh strawberries, this recipe makes a romantic Valentine’s Day dessert, or anytime dessert. You can make the mousse more interesting by substituting your favorite liquor for the water in this recipe. Try it with port, or ice wine, or even vodka. It’s up to you how boozy you want to make it.
The mousse is very light and airy. It’s creamy, too, which pairs nicely with the crunch from the chocolate cup. Serve this strawberry mousse with a glass of champagne. Chocolate, champagne and strawberries just love to be together!
Adapted from Spoonful recipe
Pour the cold water (or liquor) into a small bowl and stir in the gelatin. Allow to stand for 2 minutes. Pour the boiling water (or liquor) over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
Set aside 6 strawberries for garnish. Clean and remove the leaf-ends of the remaining strawberries. Add the hulled berries, gelatin, lemon zest and sugar into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.
In a mixing bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Set aside a few spoonful’s of whipped cream for garnish (whip in additional sugar if you want). Fold together the remaining whipped cream and strawberry mixture. If you are using chocolate cups, chill the mousse in a container before adding to the cups.
If you are not using chocolate cups, spoon the mousse directly into serving glasses. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Garnish with whipped cream and strawberries before serving.
Use disposable cups. Cut them down to the height you want them if they are too tall.
Add the chocolate to a dry glass bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds on the lowest heat setting (use the “melt” setting if you have one). Stir the chocolate. Continue to microwave in 20-30 second intervals, stirring in-between, until the chocolate in completely melted, but not too hot.
Using a spoon, add about 1 teaspoon of melted chocolate to the inside of the plastic cup. Smooth along the sides using the back of the spoon. Add another teaspoon and smooth again, running the spoon completely around the inside until completely coated with chocolate. Add a little to the bottom of the cup if necessary. You want a thin, even coating.
Chill the cups in the refrigerator for an hour, until set. To remove, peel the cup away from the chocolate, being careful not to leave fingerprints on side of the cup. It helps to hold the cup at the bottom with one finger on the top edge and one on the bottom. Chill cups again before adding mousse.
Fill chocolate cups with mousse using a spoon or piping bag.
I’m writing this blog after a succession of recipe “fails” that has me wondering if I should be writing recipes at all. They weren’t epic fails, but when you botch a birthday cake, Christmas cookies and sugar cookies within a few weeks, it’s enough to shake your confidence. Then I think about why I started Love and Duck Fat in the first place. One of the reasons was to challenge myself to learn something new. When you challenge yourself, there are usually failures involved, or it wouldn’t be a challenge.
Baking (and dessert making in general) is hard for me. Why? It requires precision. I spent years as an artist learning to embrace happy accidents, paint drips, imprecise lines and sloppy paint. This is very hard to do when you are trained from childhood to color within the lines. I learned to love imprecision because it was more beautiful, wild and freeing. Even to the viewer’s eyes. That is what I wanted to aspire to in art, and I can’t say I ever got there, but I was close.
Baking is just the opposite. It requires exact measurements, precise cooking times and a perfectly steady hand if you want your decorating to look anything close to edible. So I challenge myself with chocolate pumpkin cakes, but I am the first to admit baking is not my forte.
I am embracing my fails as learning experiences and moving on, albeit in a direction I’m more comfortable: seafood.
I was able to get my hands on a gorgeous fillet of wild Sockeye salmon, and paired it with a creamy dill sauce, black Beluga lentils and sautéed leeks. I love the color of the salmon against the dramatic black of the lentils, similar to another recipe where I paired salmon with black rice. The Beluga lentils are a little more expensive and hard to find (buy them on Amazon). They are round in appearance and glisten like caviar, thus the name. You can substitute French green or brown lentils, and the taste will be just as good.
Bring the lentils, vegetable broth, and 1 teaspoon of salt to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Add the garlic clove and bay leaf. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook on low heat for 20-25 minutes until lentils are tender-firm. Drain and return to the pan. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Keep warm and covered.
While the lentils are cooking, prepare the leeks. I like to cut them in half crosswise, and then quarter them lengthwise, into strips. Wash them well in cold water to make sure all the sand is removed. Dry well before cooking.
Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet. Add the leeks and cook on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or more, turning every few minutes. You want them to brown slightly and become very soft. Sprinkle with salt and taste.
Pat salmon dry and season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the oil or butter on medium-high heat in a nonstick skillet. When hot, place the salmon in the skillet, skin-side-down. Place a sprig of dill on each piece. Cook the salmon for 4 minutes, then turn. Cook another 2-4 minutes, depending on the thickness of each piece, and how you prefer to serve. Remove to a plate.
Pour the white wine into the hot pan. Add the minced garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the cream and cook for another 2-5 minutes, until the mixture is thickened and creamy. Add the chopped dill and lemon juice. Season with salt and fresh pepper to taste.
In the spirit of full disclosure, this post contains an affiliate link to a product I purchased and used myself. I recommend this product. If you decide to buy any of these items, I may be able to buy a cheap cup of coffee someday from the commission I receive.
This type of creamy soup recipe is perfect when it’s getting cold outside, but for us in Miami, that doesn’t happen very often. Here it is October and you would think it was the middle of summer. No changing leaves, no boots, no harvest festivals. We are still in flip flops and having swim parties. Still, food moves with the seasons and I’m in the mood for Fall. Warm and comforting, this creamy potato and fennel soup is simple to make, and delicious.
Cream of (insert vegetable here) recipes remind me of childhood, when I would pour over my mother’s 1960’s Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. The thing was well worn, with binder pages hanging out the side. Inside, you could make a creamy soup out of any vegetable if you had a blender, some chicken stock and cream.
My version is a little less fattening than most, using just a touch of cream and olive oil. The potatoes thicken the soup, so there is no need for flour or corn starch. Try to use a low starch red or yellow potato for this recipe.
Why does this matter? Waxy potatoes like these are creamier when you cook them, with a nutty, buttery flavor that will enhance the soup. Starchy white potatoes have a milder flavor and grainier texture that is better served mashed.
Some other creamy Fall veggie soups you may want to try:
In a large pot, sauté onions in olive oil or butter over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, celery and fennel. Cook for 2 minutes more. Add potatoes and chicken stock. Cover and cook over low heat until everything is very tender, about 30 minutes.
Stir in cream, season with salt and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Using an immersion blender, pulse soup until completely smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a regular blender, working in batches until the soup in smooth. Taste for seasoning and serve hot garnished with fennel fronds.
This delicious recipe pairs an elegant boneless pork loin roast with a creamy shallot and tarragon sauce. It tastes even better than it sounds and isn’t very hard to do. Boneless pork loin is not the tenderloin. This is basically a big pork chop roast. It’s an impressive cut, with a nice bit of fat on the top and lean, juicy inside.
For the past three months, I’ve been buying all of my meat and most of my eggs and dairy from Sea Breeze Organic Farm in Fort Pierce, Florida. It takes a little more effort and planning than running to the grocery store, but it’s worth it. We place our twice-monthly order by email. You can choose from nearly one hundred items; including farm fresh eggs, sour cream, milk, any cut of grass-fed beef, buffalo, lamb and goat, free-range chicken and even rabbit. They have fermented products like kombucha tea, sauerkraut and kimchee. Organic baked goods and seasonal fresh produce are also on the list. To pick up our goodies, we meet the delivery truck in a church parking lot late in the afternoon. My husband is usually the one to go on this errand because it involves waiting in line with an empty cooler to swap it out for a very heavy, full one. This isn’t the usual way to go grocery shopping in the heart of Miami, but it works for us.
What has me going back for more is the freshness and quality. Finding the best ingredients drives my desire to cook. My recipes taste better and I’m feeding my family foods raised with care and without pesticides. It’s good to know our hard-earned money is going into the pocket of small farmers instead of industrial food producers.
Back to the recipe! I paired the roast with my go-to roasted potatoes and broccoli rabe sautéed in garlic and olive oil. It was an extravagant change from our usual weekend roast chicken. By the way, keep extra sauce at the table. It was so good, my husband wanted to drink it right from the saucepan!
Yield: Serves 4
Combine garlic, tarragon and olive oil in a small bowl and stir to combine. With your hands, rub the olive oil mixture all over the roast. Place in a plastic bag and marinate 4 hours to overnight.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow to the roast to come to room temperature. Remove most of the marinade and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the roast to the pan and brown on all sides. Place the roast fat side up in the oven and cook about 30-40 minutes, until a thermometer shows the internal temperature is 135 degrees. Remove from the oven and transfer the roast to a carving board to rest for 15 minutes. Slice thinly before serving.
Using the same pan the pork was cooked in; drain any excess fat so there is about 1 tablespoon remaining. Saute the shallots on medium heat until they are soft. Stir in the garlic. Add wine, stock and any juices that released from the pork while it was resting. Allow the sauce to simmer uncovered until it is reduced by half. Reduce the heat and add cream. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes more. Add tarragon and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over pork slices and serve at the table.