Just for the record, I am the last person to sign up for an all women’s anything. Having said that, a long time ago, I read a book called the The Florabama Ladies’ Auxiliary & Sewing Circle by Lois Battle. It is about a group of poor Southern women who form a sewing club, which eventually helps them persevere in their individual lives. I could be making this up but I’m pretty sure that’s how it went down. I had originally picked up the book because I wasn’t sure if Florabama was a real place or not. Turns out it isn’t, but the book was a pleasant read. Since that day, long time ago, I have fantasized about belonging to a women’s’ club with a long, fancy, and an old fashioned name. I’m such a nerd.
Serendipitously, a few months ago, few girl-friends in the area decided to get together for a themed potluck dinner on Monday nights. I had no hand in the inception of this idea and don’t even remember being present when the discussion happened. Nevertheless, the invitation came and my old forgotten fantasy resurfaced.
The last dinner was hosted by Komal and me. The menu included some amazing stuff including, dumpling soup, Vietnamese rolls, shrimp stir fry, salad, noodles, rice, to-die-for chicken, mango ice cream with pineapple and coconut, truffles, and lots of wine and beer. My contribution was a coconut panna cotta with diced and pureed mango; my take on the Thai coconut and mango rice dessert.
We’ve had four such dinners and two more are coming up pretty soon. I can now safely say that this Monday night tradition is here to stay for a long time to come. The fun has doubled each time and we have outdone ourselves in the foods that we made and shared. Our group has no official name yet but that hasn’t hindered my interest in being a part of it. I’m sad that before long I won’t be in DC to partake in the merriment. But it has accomplished what it needed to. I’m a convert.
Coconut Panna Cotta from La Tartine Gourmande
Ingredients for 6 ramekins
One 14fl oz can of unsweetened coconut milk
1 + 1/3 cups buttermilk
½ cup cane sugar
4 Gelatin sheets (or Powdered Gelatin)
I used Mango Puree sold in cans at the Indian store, and garnished the whole thing with diced mango.
Other toppings could include honey, berries, and a berry stew.
• To prepare the panna cotta, soak the gelatin sheets in a large volume of cold water, for 5 min. For instructions on how to substitute and use powdered gelatin, please see David Lebovitz’s article here.
• In the meantime, heat the coconut milk and sugar in a pot. Do not boil but reach almost boiling point and cook for 5 min. Remove.
• Squeeze the excess water from the gelatin sheets between your fingers and add to the coconut milk. Stir until they are dissolved.
• Add the buttermilk and stir well.
• Pour this cream in small oiled ramekins. Place them in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
• Unmold your panna cotta and serve alone, or with a topping. To unmold them more easily, dip the ramekins in hot water first and run a knife around the edge. Then flip onto a plate.
I doubled the recipe to make 12 ramekins. I used one can of regular unsweetened coconut milk and one can of light unsweetened coconut milk. 2.5 envelopes of powdered gelatin set the dessert very well. I used 2 cups buttermilk because that’s all I had and used 2/3 cup cold water in which I dissolved the powdered gelatin. I poured the mixture into oiled ramekins at 7:35am and we consumed them around 8:00pm the same day. They were perfectly set. I did not unmold the dessert and instead served the ramekin on a fancy flowery plate.