An Exquisite Lemongrass Panna Cotta

Looking for a new exotic and delicious dessert to serve at your next meal? Seek no further than this aromatic Lemongrass Panna Cotta, an Italian dessert with an Indonesian twist.

How is your summer going? OK technically summer the season just started but I bet your social calendar is already in full swing! I know mine is as I seem to not have a weekend in town until end of July and on that weekend I am hosting an out of town guest. So I had no choice but to go look in my old recipe archives. You know those recipes we made but never got around to posting (because of the pics, sorry not the best)? Well you are in luck because I have been holding out on a goodie with this Lemongrass Panna Cotta. It’s a perfect sunny light dessert with an exotic twist!

Lemongrass Panna Cotta

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

SRC: Creamy Coconut Bread Pudding

Today is my group’s reveal day for the Secret Recipe Club. What is the SRC? Basically you are assigned a fellow participant’s blog by the organizer and then you pick a recipe of your choice from that blog and make your version of it. But it is a secret, you cannot reveal whom you picked and what you made until the established posting date and time.

Over the last few months I have often read blogs of the lucky few who got the The Heritage Cook as their SRC match. So when I saw I was the lucky one to recreate one of Jane’s recipes I was ecstatic. Where to start! There are so many recipes on her blog it is mind boggling. It really took me a long time to finally settle on one recipe. More about that in a bit.

Jane is an avid cook, baker, and passionate foodie. She says she fell in love with cooking when she got her first Easy Bake Oven.I so remember having one too! Ah the memories. Jane was also heavily influenced in the kitchen by her wonderful grandmother Mimi. I wish I lived where Jane live: in the San Francisco Bay Area. I have been to San Fran 3 times in my life since one of my best friends lived there for a while. I spent about a month in total there living like a tourist and a local while I stayed at my friend’s place. Jane sasy she has a wonderful selection of some of the best fresh ingredients, such as heirloom, organic, and sustainable crops that grow all year long. My favorite quote from her: “try a new recipe and if it doesn’t turn out, we can always order pizza! “

So what on earth would I settle on as a recipe. I decided to go with Jane’s Creamy Coconut Bread Pudding. I LOVE bread pudding and the more original the flavor the better. What really got my attention here was the lemongrass. The flavors reminded me of an old recipe I made once for a Lychee, Coconut and Lemongrass English Pudding. It was a challenge of steaming the pudding and I used the version where you needed suet or the such. Hated the crust part but loved the filling.

Ξ Creamy Coconut Bread Pudding Ξ
adapted for the hot and lazy person

6 cups of 1-inch cubes of white bread (with crusts)
2 cups half-and-half
1-1/2 cups shredded unsweetened dried coconut
1 (13-1/2 or 14 oz) can unsweetened coconut milk
4 tbsp prepared minced lemongrass
Pinch of salt
6 large eggs
1/2 cup shaved palm sugar or packed light brown sugar


Butter an 8-inch square baking dish. Put the cubed bread in the prepared baking dish.

Whisk the half-and-half, 1 cup of the coconut, the coconut milk, the lemongrass, the salt, the eggs and sugar in a large bowl. Slowly pour in the half-and-half mixture, whisking constantly.  Pour the mixture over the bread and push down all the bread with a spoon to submerge it. sprinkle with the remaining toasted coconut. Let stand for 1 hour or up to overnight in the fridge covered.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until set and the edges start getting a bit brown. Spoon the warm pudding into bowls and serve immediately.

I did a lot of modifications to the recipe. Now the original recipe looks amazing and is probably much creamier and flavorful than my version because I did not toast the coconut or bread and I did not make the custard. With the crazy hot temperatures there was no way I was going to slave over a hot stove and hot burners in my zero-air-circulation tiny kitchen. I mean it is 29 C/ 84 F in my kitchen right now. So I did a quick version, my usual bread pudding technique, with all of her ingredients. I keep frozen finely chopped lemongrass in my freezer so I used that instead of stalks of lemon grass. I left the lemongrass in the mixture as I like the taste and this way the mixture would infuse as it cooks. I am very happy with my quickie version and recommend it if you don’ t have as much time or convenience either.

5 Star Makeover: Thai Butternut Squash Chilled Soup

The 5 Star Makeover group is back this month with a very season appropriate type of dish: chilled soups. Who would want to eat a hot soup during a heat wave? Not me. And I was pretty sure neither would my guests I received this past Saturday night, at the end of a heat wave.

Funny enough the menu consisted of what were suppose to eat 3 months ago when we all rented a cottage together for a weekend. A couscous (coming soon) and a squash soup never saw day from lack of time. I took the ingredients home to freeze until we could all meet again. Our warm squash soup of the winter seemed inappropriate so I found a cold soup that fit the main ingredient. I forgot to take a picture of the soup with the fried cubes of pancetta I added…totally not a Thai thing but it worked perfectly.

hosted by 5 Star Foodie & Lazaro Cooks!

Ξ Thai Butternut Squash Chilled Soup Ξ

1 stalk lemongrass (2 tbsp)
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1-inch piece ginger, roughly chopped
3 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
2 tsp red curry paste
1 tsp palm sugar
2 kaffir lime leaves
2 tsp fish sauce
1 (14.5-ounce) can coconut milk, light or regular
1 lime, juiced
Salt, to taste
1/2 cup cilantro leaves

1. Slice and mince the lemongrass stalk.

2. In a large pot add the lemongrass, stock and ginger. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the lemongrass and ginger out and return to the pot.

3. Add the butternut squash, red curry paste, sugar, kaffir leaves and fish sauce to the stock, and simmer until the squash is cooked for about 1 hour.

4. Remove from heat and blend the soup until smooth in a food processor or an immersion blender. Return to heat and add the coconut milk, lime juice and salt. Chill soup completely. Garnish the soup with cilantro and if you like some cubed pancetta.


East meets West Arancini

Arancini is an Italian specialty, from Sicily to be precise, dating back to around the 10th century. The word Arancini actually means “little orange” as the traditional fried rice ball are very round and resemble small oranges. You will find many recipes online giving you the supposed original version but as any Italian family can attest, every Italian mother or grandmother has her own secret recipe.

I have taken the Arancini concept and ran with it to create a very modern, fusion style rice ball. Instead of an Arborio rice I used short grain brown rice which has a mild nutty flavor. The Parmesan was replaced by a stronger, full bodied sheep’s milk hard cheese called Pecorino Crotonese. And finally we find in my recipe a seemingly odd herb combination, rosemary and lemon grass, which actually marry very well in small doses.

I shaped my Arancini smaller then normal. I made patties about 2 inches wide making them the perfect size for an hors d’oeuvres or a snack. Once they are prepared you can refrigerate leftovers and bring them for lunch at work or on a picnic. In other words they are completely portable, hence this recipe is my entry for the the USA Rice Federation Brown Rice Blogger Challenge with the theme of best portable recipe made with brown rice.

Ξ East meets West Arancini Ξ

1 1/3 short grain brown rice
3 1/4 cups water
1 cup Pecorino Crotonese cheese, grated
1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup butter
lemongrass, chopped fresh or dried

In a pot bring the water to boil. Add rice to pot, bring to a low simmer and cook for 30 minutes covered. Once the rice is ready spread it out on a large plate to cool. It is important to break up the rice clumps with a fork or shamoji (flat rice paddle) once in a while, as it cools enough to handle with your hands.

In the mean time combine in a bowl the brown rice, cheese, rosemary, egg, salt and pepper. Mix everything well with a wooden spoon. Shape into rice balls about 2 inches wide, in your hands or with a small mold. Put them on a plate and in the fridge for about 30mins to firm up.

Take out rice balls from the fridge and pour flour into a bowl. Heat oil and butter in a skillet to 350F (180C). Coat lightly each rice balls with the flour and gently shake off any excess.  Fry rice balls in small batches, about on 4 minutes each side, turning them only once, until they are golden brown. Place the fried rice balls paper towels to drain the excess oil.

Serve with a sprinkle of lemongrass to give a zesty, lemony zing.

Makes 14 Arancinis

I hope you will enjoy my entry for the contest. If I may be so bold to pass judgment on the rice balls, I have to say they were out of this world, melt in your mouth, all cheesy and buttery happy explosions with just a delicate hint of the rosemary and lemongrass. For centuries we argued whether tomatoes and pasta actually came from Asia or Italy. In this recipe the East meets the West perfectly in agreement.

To learn more about rice and its nutritional facts please visit the USA Rice Federation website.

Bakers Challenge: Lychee, Coconut and Lemongrass British Pudding

The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet. Now I did not find suet but basically this recipe will…

turn this into this

Wow, this was something I never had made before and I knew it would be a different experience. Esther proposed 2 types of pudding: one with crust a bit more like a pie and one sponge type more like a cake. I knew right away I wanted to try the crust type since I did not know this version existed. Now what about the filling?

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →