Friday, November 30, 2012

Review of "Salvation of a Saint" [92]

Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino
Minotaur, ISBN 978-0312600686
October 2, 2012, 336 pages

"I love you more than anything in the world. That's why your words were like a knife stabbing me in the heart.
That's why you have to die too."
Yoshitaka Mashiba is a man who seems unworthy of  being loved. Yes, he is handsome and rich and quite successful. But there is one thing he lacks and one thing that he will do whatever he must do to get. He wants a wife who will give him a child and when she can not give him what he wants, she will be cast aside. It seems he is already working on an alternative plan to get what he wants.

So, when he ends up dead, the victim of poisoning, his soon to be ex-wife is suspect number one. Except, she was hours away, visiting her parents when he died and has an excellent alibi. Lots of motive, but no opportunity. Of course, there is his girl friend. She was the last to see him, she found the body and she had a key to his house, the perfect opportunity. But since she is pregnant with his child, she seems to have no motive. What about his business partner? Everything seems good there, but did he perhaps have a hidden reason to kill his long time friend? Or is there someone from his past that might have reason to see him dead?
But if so, how did they do it?
Somehow, someone got the poison in that coffee cup without leaving any other clues...just maybe it is the perfect crime!

The wife seem the obvious choice, but for his own reasons Detective Kusanagi, back after The Devotion of Suspect X, would like to find the murderer elsewhere..because he is just a little smitten with the wife. But his new assistant, Detective Utsumi, is not so sure. And how better to overcome her boss's concerns than to enlist his old friend, the brilliant university professor, physicist Manabu Yukawa, to help them figure it out. The challenge of a perfect crime is right up his alley! But is it possible that even if he figures out how the crime was committed, he will not be able to prove it and the murderer will get away with it. Oh, horrors!

As much as I love a gruesome mystery..and I do..this book is something quite different. Think Sherlock Holmes (Dr. Yukawa) and Watson (Detective Kusanagi) with a dash of Agatha Christie and a classic locked room mystery, all set in modern Japan. And while it is a police procedural, except for one rather neat dead body, this is more about clever conversations, careful time lines and cups of tea and coffee being served than car chases or shoot-em outs.

I saw a review..I think in the NY Times.. that called this book 'elegant' and I understand why. The characters, even the suspects, are subtly drawn and except for the dead man, quite likable. I especially like the character of Utsumi, who is an excellent balance to her sometime hotheaded boss, Detective Kusanagi. They make a very effective team.
This is a smart book and pay attention if you want any chance of figuring out not only who-done-it, but how-done-it.

Higashino is a hugely popular author in Japan, the author of 16 books, and it is easy to understand why. We mystery lovers can only hope to soon see more of his books translated into English and published here in the near future.

My thanks to the publisher and Amazon Vine for providing a copy of this book for review.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review of "Not Dead Yet"

Not Dead Yet by Peter James 
ISBN 978-0312642846
November 27, 2012, 448 pages

Back for his eighth appearance is Detective Superintendent Roy Grace and as usual, he has his hands full.

First, he is called to a chicken farm where the mutilated body of a man is found. Well, part of a body, since the arms and legs and head are missing. Was this some sort of mob hit, or a crazy serial killer..or what?  They will have to identify the body first, which is easier said than done with no head or hands, and pressure is on from above to get it solved quickly.

As if that were not enough to handle, Grace is put in charge of another situation as well. The famous singer, pop star and actress...think Madonna-like...Gaia Lafayette is coming to Grace's Brighton, England to film a movie role on location and he is put in charge of security. This could be a huge boost to local tourism, so it is very important that everything goes smoothly and the filming gets good press. But to make it worse, it seems that someone..or as it turns out maybe more than one out to do Gaia and her young son harm and Grace will be at the very center of the race to catch a very troubled fan before it all comes to a very horrible end.

As I said, this is the eight book in the series. But it is only the second that I read and let me assure you that jumping in will not be a problem, at all.  Grace is a great character and while he is dealing with some interesting personal issues in this book, more than enough background will be given to get us up to speed and involved in his story. And I must say, perhaps set up one of the storylines for the next book with a bit of a cliffhanger involving someone from his past who may be getting ready to make a surprise reappearance.

The plot is quite good, with lots of twists and turns and a few surprise revelations that will keep you guessing until the very end of the book. There are several threads that at first seem unrelated but will slowly all come together...perhaps just testing the lengths of believability a tiny bit. Happily though  not enough to be too troubling or unrealistic.

A good solid British police procedural that will give the reader hours of enjoyment and I think tempt you to join the line waiting for the next installment to see how a few things play out.

My thanks to the publisher and Amazon Vine for providing a copy of this book for review.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday...Pisa

Today we are off for a little drive from Florence to...PISA! 


The Duomo

The Bapistry always, for more Wordless Wednesday, 
check these out.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Musing Monday...Harry Who?

Hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving weekend, but back to the work week now!

Let's start by checking out this week's Musing Monday, as always from the desk of MizB at Should Be Reading....

There are a lot of books being made into movies, these days (“Anna Karenina“; etc). So, this week’s musing — courtesy of — asks… Have you ever read a book after watching the movie/television version only to find that you don’t like the book as much as the adaptation?

I am not sure if my mind is not working too well this morning or what, but try as I might to muse, I can not come up with a time I read a book after seeing the movie based on it.
The other the book, saw the movie, yes.

And that usually, but not always, works out badly for the movie.
Books can just contain so much more than a movie. What is the average length of a book if read aloud? 10..15...20 hours? It is really hard to recreate the character development, the plot twists of a book that long in a 1 1/2 or 2 hour movie.
But the movie being better than the book? Hard to believe.

 Maybe it is because I do not go to a lot of movies these days. Not sure why, because I like movies, especially seeing them in a theater. But I am on a sort of move drought.
And I am rarely a fan of the big blockbusters, often the sort based on a book. I have never seen or read the Twilight series. I have not read or seen the Harry Potter series.

Oh now, stop the exclamations of disbelief!
Stop shaking your head!
OK, actually I read the first Harry book and saw the first Harry movie and was not really taken with either. I just do not get the attraction.
{{Oh now I got them really upset.. }}

I know I may very well be in the minority with that opinion..but what can I

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Weekend Cooking...A Gingerbread Pentagon

I believe I mentioned that I am away this holiday weekend.
Yes, I know I just came back from Italy, but this time I am closer to home, just a few hours away in Washington D.C. with the Bro, the SIL, the Niece and the Niece's boyfriend.

Seeing the sights..walking and walking..doing a little shopping...eating at a few great places including at Fyre, the restaurant here at the hotel where we had a very nice Thanksgiving dinner and Rosa Mexicana, a favorite. I am sure a few photos will turn up in the future of the monuments, of our tour of the Library of Congress, the Capitol, the Air and Space and the Native American museums to name just a few stops.

But Friday started off with a festive holiday touch, the unveiling of a fabulous gingerbread replica of the Pentagon...and I can see the real one from my window.

Take a break from your holiday shopping with The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon-City, as Chef David Collier unveils his gingerbread Pentagon, a replica of the United States Pentagon for guests and the community to enjoy. This will be the first time that the Pentagon will be replicated with gingerbread. Guests are invited to opening day festivities, on Friday, November 23rd at 10am, which will include hot spiced cider, hot chocolate, and other holiday treats provided by the talented Pastry Team.

Now, I have made gingerbread men, but never so much as a gingerbread house, and I was impressed. Look, it has tiny battery run LED lights! How cute.
But I think I will stick with the cookies again this year. That looks just a little stressful, doesn't it, and unlike the Chef, I do not have a pasty team to assist me.
So here is my recipe.. which I think is quite good.
It makes a cookie that is not too hard and dry and very tasty and just a little spicy, as a good gingerbread should be.

Gingerbread Cookies 
  • 3 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour 
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature, softened) 
  • 1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed 
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses 
  • Optional raisins, chocolate chips, candy pieces, frosting 
Royal Icing
  • 1 egg white 
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice 
  • 1 3/4 cup confectioners sugar (powdered sugar) 
1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.

 2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Mix in eggs and molasses. Gradually add the flour mixture; combine on low speed. (You may need to work it with your hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.) Divide dough in thirds; wrap each third in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour or overnight. Before rolling out, let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. If after refrigerating the dough feels too soft to roll-out, work in a little more flour.

3. Heat oven to 350°. Place a dough third on a large piece of lightly floured parchment paper or wax paper. Using a rolling pin, roll dough 1/8 inch thick. Refrigerate again for 5-10 minutes to make it easier to cut out the cookies. Use either a cookie cutter or place a stencil over the dough and use a knife to cut into desired shapes. Press raisins, chocolate chips, or candy pieces in the center of each cookie if desired for "buttons".

4. Transfer to ungreased baking sheets. Bake until crisp but not darkened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Let sit a few minutes and then use a metal spatula to transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate as desired. Makes 16 5-inch long cookies.

Royal Icing
The traditional way to make Royal Icing is to beat egg whites and lemon juice together, adding the powdered sugar until the mixture holds stiff peaks.

With modern concerns about salmonella from raw eggs, you can either use powdered egg whites or heat the egg whites first to kill any bacteria. With the heating method, mix the egg white and lemon juice with a third of the sugar, heat in a microwave until the mixture's temperature is 160°F. Then remove from microwave, and beat in the remaining sugar until stiff peaks form.
Using the powdered egg whites method, combine 1 Tbsp egg white powder with 2 Tbsp water. Proceed as you would otherwise.

If the icing is too runny, add more powdered sugar until you get the desired consistency. Fill a piping bag with the icing to pipe out into different shapes. (Or use a plastic sandwich bag, with the tip of one corner of the bag cut off.) Keep the icing covered while you work with it or it will dry out.


This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Review of "Bad Little Falls" [91]

Bad Little Falls:A Novel by Paul Doiron
 Minotaur Books, ISBN 978-0312558482
 August 7, 2012, 320 pages

Back for the third time is Maine Game Warden Mike Bowditch and fans of the series will be thrilled. This may be my favorite one of the series so far.
Those of you who have not jumped on this series..what are you waiting for?!!

 Mike is a guy who tend to push the envelope, test the limits of his job and not the most popular with the higher ups in the Service. So it is no surprise that he has been transferred from the popular mid- coast to the ends-of-the-earth Maine style, the more rough and ready northern regions up by the Canadian border.

Drug smuggling is a big problem up here and the game wardens are even more unpopular than elsewhere in the state, which is saying something. Since he broke up with his girlfriend at the end of the last book as well, Mike has never felt so alone.

But he will be busy enough to keep him distracted.
A huge snowstorm moves into the region and right at the height of the storm, Mike gets called to the assistance of an older couple living in a remote cabin. A half frozen man...literally...has stumbled up to their door at the height of the blizzard, claiming his friend is still out there in the storm. When he is found, it is too late, but it is soon clear the storm did not kill him. No, his death came at more human hands, perhaps the frozen friend who sent the rescuers. And since the dead man was known to police as a major drug dealer, no doubt something illegal is probably involved.

On the personal side, Mike is getting involved with a beautiful young local woman. It might not be the best idea though...since she is the sister of the frostbitten man..and a woman with more than a few of her own issues. These include the fact that the dead man was her ex-boyfriend, she has her own drug history, and a strange little son who has a lot more secrets than a little boy should have.

I love this series for several reason. Yes, I love the location is Maine, even if this one is not set on the beautiful coast. And Mike is a great character, flawed but with a big heart. Happily, he seems to have realized his own issues with alcohol so apparent in the last book and has that more under control this time around. But while he is a smart guy, he is still often leading with his feelings, which makes for some great situations. And one of my favorite characters, his pilot friend Charley Stevens is back, along with his beautiful biologist/pilot daughter. Ok, she is engaged, but I am sensing a future love interest for Mike here ...I hope...and she is spunky enough that that should be great fun.
The plot is complicated enough to hold the interest, with a number of red herrings, well written, great location, great characters.What is not to like?

Yes, I do really like this series!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wishing a Happy Thanksgiving 
to all my readers.. 

May this weekend be a time of fun times with friends and family, 
festive feasting ....
and the occasional football game for those so inclined.

But most of all,  
let it be a time to give thanks 
for all the blessings in our lives!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wordless Wednesday...Florence, Italy

Back on the train and off to beautiful Firenze...Florence

View from one of the terraces of our hotel

They will not let you photograph the here is the copy

The Baptistry, the Duomo and the Bell Tower

The newly restored Baptistry doors.

The Ponte Vecchio bridge on the Arno at dawn always, for more Wordless Wednesday, 
check these out.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Musing Monday...My Shameful Secret.

Looking forward to Turkey Day?
Sorry, days to wait folks...
First, we must muse this week’s musing, from the desk of Miz B at Should Be Reading asks…

 Do you read the ending before you start a book? Do you ever skip ahead to read the ending? 

Oh my, must all my shameful secrets be revealed?
Is nothing sacred?
Will what happen in 1984 someday come to light?
Oooops....didn't mean to bring that up...

Seriously.. As I think I have mentioned, to great uproar before, I will admit that on occasion, I do in fact read the ending of a book.
Now, before the screams drown me out, let me qualify that statement just a bit.
Read might be too strong a word.
I glance at the ending.
It is a delicate operation.
I usually just want an idea about one thing or the other.
Does Character X survive? Do Character w and Character Z end up together? Does Character Y get their head cut off?
I do not really want to know Who Done It! No!
I do not want to know the outcome in any meaningful sense!

It is a very, very delicate balance.

Ok, so why do I do it?
Hmmm...Maybe there is only so much anxiety I can take. I must decrease the anxiety..I MUST I TELL YA! 
That could be it.
Or maybe I am just a wee bit nuts.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Weekend Cooking...Lemons Gelato

You will forgive me if I reuse this photo, won't you? I really like it. I snapped it on my trip to the Amafi coast..Sorrento included..a few weeks ago.
And if you don't know it, Sorrento is known for it's lemons, like those giant ones you see in that picture. Yes, those are regular sized bottles and those are very large lemons.

One use of those very large lemons is to make Limoncello, the delightful lemon liqueur Sorrento is known for.
"Traditionally, it is made from the zest of Femminello St. Teresa lemons, that are also known as Sorrento lemons. Lemon zest, or peels without the pith, are steeped in grain alcohol until the oil is released. The resulting yellow liquid is then mixed with simple syrup."
I actually saw recipes for making your own limoncello, involving vodka, but that seemed a little over the top.
But I was determined to post a Weekend Cooking tied into my Wordless Wednesday post ..have you checked out my photos yet. If not, I can wait a minute while you do...go ahead..
So, if not limoncello, then what?
Well, what else is Italy known for? Gelato!
So, I wondered, how is gelato different than American Ice Cream? It seems to come down to butterfat..more milk, less cream, no eggs...and air..less air in Italian, more in American. Supposedly, gelato machines move the product much slower and whip a lot less air into the final frozen delite.

Off to consult my ice cream bible, The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. If I could not make an authentic gelato, I would make do with another lemon product. And it seems I had at least four choices. I could make a granita...shaved ice covered with a fruit liquid or a sorbet...sugar, water, lemon juice frozen in an ice cream machine or a sherbet...milk, sugar and lemon juice, again frozen in the machine...or "Super Lemon Ice Cream".
 I went with the ice cream because who can turn down something called "Super"?

It is a simple recipe.

Lemon Ice Cream
(From The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz)
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 C sugar 
  • 1/2 C lemon juice 
  • 2 C half and half 
  • pinch of salt
  • Put the lemon zest and sugar into the bowl of a food processor and process until the lemon zest is very fine. 
    Add the lemon juice and process until the sugar is dissolved. 
    Stir in the cream and salt and chill for at least one hour. 
    Pour the ice cream base into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturers instructions.

    Oddly, I think I actually came much closed to my intended gelato, low air % result than I had intended.
    I have not used my ice cream maker in awhile but I had left the canister in the freezer. When I turned the freezer as low as it would go in anticipation of a power outage back during Super Storm Sandy. And forget to put it back to normal again again.
    It was very, very frozen.
    So, as the ice cream churned around, it froze rather hard rather quickly and just did not get as 'whipped' as it usually would have. I think.

    Either way it was very easy and very delicious. I had a few spare lemons, so I cut them in half, scooped out the flesh and piped the ice cream into it for a cute little treat. Aren't they cute? And look at the tiny bits of zest in there...hmmmmm..


    This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
    "Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
    Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.

    Thursday, November 15, 2012

    Review of "Suddenly. The Cider Didn't Taste So Good" [90]

    Suddenly, The Cider Didn't Taste So Good by John Ford Sr. Islandport Press, ISBN 978-1934031940 April 20, 2012, 200 pages

    Retired Maine Game Warden John Ford has seen it all. He's been shot at by desperate prison escapees, been outwitted by wily trappers, and rescued scores of animals. As a tenacious and successful warden, he was always willing to spend the time needed to nab violators of the state's fish and game laws. At the same time, though, he wasn't a cold, heartless, go-by-the-book enforcer; he usually had a good quip ready when he slipped the handcuffs on a violator, and he wasn't above accepting a lesson learned as sufficient penalty for breaking the law. Ford is also a very gifted storyteller and he writes of his adventures in Suddenly, the Cider Didn't Taste So Good, a collection of true tales, both humorous and serious, from the trenches of law enforcement, and also includes heartwarming accounts of his rescue of hurt or abandoned animals.
    What is it with me and Maine Game Wardens?
    First, there were the books by Paul Doiron, mysteries set in Maine with the central character being Warden Mike Bowditch..I am reading the third one right now and it is very good!...and now John Ford and his real life experience during a long 20 + history as a warden.
    I hear the call of the Maine woods.. ;-)

    Let me just say that sometimes fiction is actually more interesting than real life.
    This is not a bad book.
    A number of the stories are pretty interesting. Some are rather amusing. But honestly, I am not sure if if is the stories or the very direct style Mr. Ford uses to tell them, but it all comes across as just a bit flat to this reader, a bit too mundane. I kept waiting for the hit it out of the park story, the really great story, but for me, it never came along.

    I saw other reviews..and really, what is with ALL the five star reviews on Amazon?...that talked about laughing out loud as they read. OK, I giggled a few time, smiled a few, but I don't think I actually laughed. I enjoyed the book. But take into consideration my slight Maine Game warden obsession, I think I might have found this a bit more intersting than the average reader might.

    Still for Maine fans, those who like stories about fishing and hunting, especially those individuals who are not above stepping outside the law to persue those interests, this might be a book you would enjoy.

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012

    Wordless Wednesday...the Amafi Coast

    Let's take a day trip, out of Rome. We will go  down past Napoli and Vesuvius, to the beautiful Amafi coast, to Sorrento and Positano.

    the view from the restaurant where we had a delicious lunch

    Anyone for a nice cold Limonicello?

    A brief stop for a gelato and a coffee..

    always, for more Wordless Wednesday, 
    check these out.

    Monday, November 12, 2012

    Musing Monday...Book Czar of the World!!

    The world I tell ya!! {insert evil Czar laugh} Ha..ha..ha...ha...haaaaaa

    Oh my, what has come over MizB at
    Should Be Reading this week?!

    She has posted eight questions, all of which were ones offered awhile back when she asked us for suggestions, and has left to us what we choose to answer. Answer one...answer them all...whatever we like.

    Personally, I think that is just too many choices for a very early Monday morning. But what is a blogger to do?

    Well, I will start with the very best of all the questions.
    I truly wonderful question.
    OK, I might feel that way because it is

    If you were Book Czar of the world, is there one book you would like to require every kid to read? Or actually, every adult for that matter.

    Well, contrary to what that question might imply, my answer is no.
    Maybe once I would have said yes. I am not actually sure what the book would have been but I would have made a few suggestions. But...
    Take a book like Island of the World by Michael D. O'Brien, a truly excellent book that I assume the vast majority have never heard of and never read. Part of me would like to force you all to read it..but I realize it is not going to work. Not going to work in the sense of forcing you to read it because I think it is excellent and want you to love it as much as I do. Because while I will argue it is a great book, I also realize many readers would not love it. Some might hate it.

    People will like what they like.
    And I want them to read what they that they will like reading...and will read more books.
    It might depend on their age, or their life experiences, or what sort of things they have read before..or all sorts of factors. Regardless of why, I think especially for new readers or people who are not big readers, the book has to be one that meets them where they are..and them hopefully takes them just a little bit further, a little bit out of themselves. Reading anything is better than reading nothing.

    It is kind of strange to think about it (but it is the wee hours of the morning when strange thoughts might come to one's mind) but perhaps over time, if you could force a hypothetical reader to follow a reading plan, maybe you could shape their likes and dislikes and get then to agree with you, to like what are consider Great Books....but that just sounds creepy.
    No, as much as I would like everyone to think the books I love are great and that the books I hate are awful, it is not going to happen. Taste differs and ever our own taste in books might change over time. Not even for Book Czar of the World, which, by the way, sounds like a really cool job.
    Prime example...The Da Vinci Code..awful book, huge best seller.
    And for heavens sake, his name was NOT DA VINCI!

    Which I think ties into my second choice in questions, this one from Dr.Pepper Diva.

    Do you read outside your preferred genre? Has your preferred genre changed?

    I have written about it before, but I love mysteries, have always loved mysteries, will most likely always love mysteries. They are my comfort read. But I really do try to dip into the wide world of books outside that genre. And it is why I think it is important to take up the suggestions of others who love books about something I should read. I read reviews seeing if they can make the case. Maybe I will like it, maybe not, but I think we have to be open to the idea that there are great books out there we might not pick up on our own. But we do, and we like it, and we are maybe just a slightly different person for having read it.
    Don't you believe books can do that?

    Saturday, November 10, 2012

    Weekend Cooking...Panna Cotta

    I had been told that it is impossible to have a bad meal in Italy, and while I think that might not be totally true, I will say, from my limited experience, that it is hard. A lot harder than in the U.S.
    We had done some research before our trip, looking online for restaurant recommendations in Rome and Florence and Venice...and I am not sure we ended up using any of them. We got some recommendations from the front desks at the hotels, from a couple of our tour guides, a couple were places we had been to before..and we sometimes just stopped at a place that looked nice or was convenient. And most of the meals were very good.
    The lovely cured meats, the cheeses, the bread, the tomatoes, the pasta....
    And did I mention the pizza? Wow, how do they do that, the perfect crusts, crisp but not dry, the light let flavorful  sauce..awwww.

    Well, I am hard pressed to recreate many of these dishes.
    But I can try one, a dessert I had in Florence.
    We had gone for dinner to a restaurant known for it's wild boar dishes, Osteria del Cinghiale. I had the pasta with a wild boar ragu...delicious. But my supermarket seemed out of boar this week, so I will go with the dessert I had, Panna Cotta with Chocolate sauce.

    If I could upload the little video, you could see it jiggle.

    I had never had panna cotta and I always like to try some new things at times like this. Creamy, light..and that chocolate sauce was to die for.
    So off I went to look for a recipe.
    Amazing, the recipe it simple and it is quick and easy to make.
    Cream, milk, sugar  and just enough gelatin to hold it together without making it rubbery.


    Servings: 8
    • 2 tablespoons water
    • 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
    • Oil
    • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
    • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
    • 6 tablespoons sugar 
    • Zest of one lemon
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1. Place the water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Stir to distribute, and set aside to soften 2 to 3 minutes.

    2. Wipe the insides of 8 (one-half-cup) ramekins with a light coating of neutral oil and set aside. Half-fill a large bowl with ice and add enough water to make an ice bath and set aside.

    3. In a small saucepan, combine the cream, milk, sugar and lemon zest , and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Do not let it boil! Remove from heat, and whisk the very hot milk in the softened gelatin and add the vanilla extract.

    4. Set the saucepan in the ice bath  and whisk until the mixture is lukewarm. There should be no grit from undissolved sugar or gelatin.

    5. Ladle the mixture into the ramekins and chill at least 4 hours or overnight. If you're going to keep them longer than overnight, cover them with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap gently against the panna cotta to prevent a skin from forming. 

    6. About 10 minutes before serving, run a thin-bladed knife around the inside of the ramekin. Dip the ramekin briefly in a bowl of hot tap water, and then carefully invert onto a serving plate. If the panna cotta doesn't unmold right away, tap the ramekin lightly on the countertop to loosen it. If it still doesn't unmold, return it to the hot water bath for another five seconds and repeat. Panna cotta can also be served without unmolding. 

    Very easy.
    Well, except the unmolding part. Perhaps I needed more oil on the ramekins.
    Perhaps I will just take the easy way out and serve them  in the cups.
    Sounds like a plan!

    I had no chocolate sauce of the makings of chocolate sauce on hand so I went with some raspberries from my garden I had in the freezer. Add a little sugar, some lemon juice, bring to a boil to melt the sugar and let it cool. Good to go for a nice fruit sauce.

    I turned the 'bad' side to the
    Unmolding is an issue, so let's try skipping that step. 
    Pour it in a nice glass.
     Yes, I think that might be the way to go.
    I put some berries in the bottom, poured in the cooled panna cotta and then topped with some berries once it was firm. 

    This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
    "Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
    Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.