Saturday, January 3, 2009

Islandhopper Dons an Apron...

... and makes Pannacotta.

A few years ago, all I wanted to be was a domestic diva. Martha Stewart, pre-federal charges and prisondom, was my role model. I bought color coded chopping boards, planted basil on my window sill, and stocked up on every dried spice available to man. I remembered winning a baking contest when I was 10, and so I thought I had a promising future in the kitchen and I was going to be my own barefoot contessa.

I was so happy and proud when I made my first adobo. Nora Daza taught me. She did not teach me math so I did not know how to adjust the recipe for 10 for just the two of us. So for two weeks, all we had was adobo, the last serving of which as adobo flakes in a sandwich. But it was pretty good.

And then one time, I took a recipe from my Cooking for Two cookbook and substituted pork chops for lamb chops. It was a disaster. Energetically chewing the rubbery meat, my husband tried to say something so he complimented the uhm, the coca cola I served with dinner. Kitchen trauma. Ego catastrophe.

As somebody who thrives on compliments, I don't deal well with failure. So I threw away my Martha Stewart poster and with teary eyes said, I will never cook again. I cast out my culinary aspirations. Onion bulbs started sprouting plants inside the kitchen. Our first tank of LPG lasted 2 1/2 years. Far longer than some marriages do.

This domestic diva retired prematurely. Once in a rare while I whip up some puttanesca or throw a no-brainer salad. Sometimes, when I'm too lazy to wear a bra and eat out, my husband trusts me with simple dishes. Or I heat leftovers. I have successfully made Kalbi Chim and Osso Bucco once. And one birthday of mine, I did a whole production number, from scratch, by myself of a full course dinner that ended with scrumptious lava cake. No one died. It temporarily restored my self confidence, but generally, I stay out of the kitchen.

But once in a while, mostly when I'm watching Nigella, I think of that abandoned dream and of that souffle, and I think maybe it's not too late to be a culinary queen. And maybe someday I will be one.

But those dreams will have to stay in the back burner longer, because we're moving in with my mother in law. And she is the domestic goddess in the family. Not just because it's her kitchen, but because she's really, really good. So good, I cannot bear the shame of cooking by her side. And so I realized I would not be holding a spatula for a long, long time.

So, when we were discussing our Italian themed lunch last New Year's day, I raised my hand to say I will make the pannacotta.

I know, I know, long story. And all I wanted to share was this recipe:

1/2 liter fresh milk
1/2 liter whipping cream
2 packs of Knox unflavored gelatin
6 tbsps. sugar

Mix all ingredients and boil. Pour into dish. Set.
Top with mangoes or peach slices. Or strawberries. Or chocolates. Use your imagination.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Boil until sticky. Cool. Pour on top.

--end of recipe--

Note: This does not travel well. Look at picture below; this was how it looked after a 15 minute drive to venue. I had to fix it to do a quick fix, but I was not able to restore it to its original perfection. So, my tip is if you're going to transport it, to do the topping wherever you'll serve the dish.