The picture, ugh. Sorry. It was fantastic and really beautiful, trust me. Panna cotta, like puff pastry, is one of those desserts with an undeserved reputation for extravagance. We should all be making panna cotta all the time until the recession/depression ends because it tastes luxurious and isn't. Even using the most expensive local organic milk and cream (Straus), the ingredients to make six servings cost me $4.39. That's roughly 75 cents for a dessert they sell for $12 at glitzy big city restaurants. It'll be plated prettier and gussied up and someone else will do the dishes, but the panna cotta itself won't be any better. Impossible.
Panna Cotta (adapted from Anne Mendelson's Milk)
1. Lightly oil 6 ramekins using a neutral-flavored oil.
2. Put 1 envelope of gelatin in a saucepan and stir in 1 cup milk, 2 cups heavy cream (preferably not ultra-pasteurized), 2/3 cup sugar, and a pinch of salt. Bring just to a boil and remove from heat. Cool slightly. Stir again. Pour into the ramekins and chill until set.
3. When you're ready to eat, bring a saucepan of water to a simmer, dip the bottom of each ramekin in the water for a few seconds. Run a knife around the edge of the cream, invert on a dessert plate, and shake until it comes loose. Serve with a fruit sauce.*
See how easy?
*I cooked down some frozen strawberries with water and sugar, then mashed it all up, hence inelegant photograph. Tasted wonderful.