The sky finally opened up recently, bringing with it some much need relief from the heat. The rain came hard and the cool air blanketed the area. We always sit outside, or inside near a window when it turns to stormy conditions, and enjoy watching the rain, but especially so after this long drought. We pick a spot under cover and sit back and enjoy the breeze and light mist and the show on display. It’s been unusual around these parts, hot and dry with our grounds taking on unusual levels of punishment. So on this particular day the rain was welcome.
We moved out of the city a few years ago and into a smaller town surrounded by local farms and a tremendous amount of green space. It was a decision based on a variety of factors but having easy access to trails and local farms was certainly a key. And so far I’ve taken full advantage of all the options within a short drive. It seems every block I pass has a sign for fresh berries and corn right now. We’ve become spoiled by it as of late, so that the early departure of strawberry season was a minor inconvenience. It came sooner and left not long after.
I’ve come to realize that the harvest we’ve come to expect just won’t be happening this season. The varieties are smaller and aren’t quite as juicy as seasons past. We missed strawberry season and there aren’t enough raspberries to go around. And before they finish for good, and after a good rain, I decided to head to the farm near us to pick some. Before it’s too late.
I was out in the sun, albeit a bit softer than the usual force of heat it produces, and picked my first couple of pints of raspberries. I was the only one out there in a sea of berry shrubs, orchard trees and corn fields. It was quiet, the only sounds from the occasional breeze that pushed the corn fields about. If my grandmother was alive she would have loved that moment. It reminded me of her ability to revel in the silence. And her surroundings.
When I arrived back home I thought about all the things I wanted to do with those raspberries. I washed them and ate my share before deciding on a tartlet. With that rain and drop in temperature came the perfect chance to turn the stove on for the first time in some time. I worked the raspberries into a fresh raspberry coulis, keeping them as whole as possible to retain as much juice as possible. I worked on the panna cotta and let it sit through the night to retain its shape and turned pate sucree into the base for the tartlets.
The result was perfect. The only thing lacking was a good a rainfall to watch on the porch.
From my kitchen to yours,
Raspberry Panna Cotta Tartlets:
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 sticks of butter, cold, cut into chunks
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1. Using a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, salt and baking powder until mixed. Add butter and pulse into it resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add eggs and pulse into the dough starts to come together, roughly 30 seconds. If it’s too dry, add a tablespoon of water and pulse. Remove and divide the dough in half and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
- 2 cups raspberries
- 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- Cook raspberries, sugar, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until juicy, about five minutes. Pour through a fine sieve over a bowl, pressing down with a spoon to force out all the juice. Transfer to a container and refrigerate. Reserve until later.
- 2 tsp. powdered gelatin
- 3 tbsp. water
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup creme fraiche
- In a bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let soften for 10 minutes. (alternatively, follow directions for gelatin on pack and skip this process)
- Prepare an ice bath. Using a medium saucepan, bring the cream and sugar to a simmer, stirring often. Add the gelatin mixture and continue to cook over a medium-low heat, stirring until the gelatin and sugar have both dissolved. Remove from heat and whisk in the creme fraiche. Pour into a bowl and set into the ice bath. Let cool fully, stirring from time to time. Divide mixture among 4 ounce ramekins, filling half way. Refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours or overnight.
- Place 6 tartlet rings on a parchment-lined baking pan. Divide the cold dough into 6 pieces. On a lightly floured surface , roll out each dough until 1/8″ thick. Gently press each piece into the tart ring. Trim the excess dough flush. Place in fridge for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375F degrees. Once cooled, pierce the bottoms of the shells all over. Line the tarts with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Place in the oven and let bake for 15-18 minutes, or until edges are golden. Remove weights and parchment paper and continue baking for 10 minutes, or until golden. Remove and cool on a wire rack. Remove from tartlet rings.
- Dip the ramekins in warm water and run a small knife around the edge of the panna cotta. Gently slide inverted into a tartlet shell. Top with fresh berries and raspberry coulis. Sprinkle crushed pistachios over top. Serves 6.