Bring the tastes of Italy to your own home with this fantastic summer dessert recipe by Paul Ainsworth. The chef offsets the creamy richness of the iconic Italian panna cotta with the fresh flavours of strawberry and mint, dressed in deliciously smooth olive oil.
Southampton-born Paul Ainsworth got his break courtesy of Gary Rhodes, whom he worked for three years. After that, he moved to Gordon Ramsay's organisation, working first at his flagship Royal Hospital Road restaurant and then with Marcus Wareing at Petrus.
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Begin by preparing the panna cotta. Combine the milk, sugar, cream, and vanilla pod and seeds to a pan and gradually bring to a simmer. Stir the mixture continuously, making sure the liquid doesn't stick, until the sugar has fully dissolved
600ml of double cream
150ml of milk
75g of caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, split and de-seeded
Add a little white chocolate to the pan of vanilla cream and stir in until it has all melted smoothly into the mixture, repeat until all the chocolate is dissolved
100g of white chocolate, chopped, plus extra to serve
Soak the gelatine in a small bowl of cold water until softened, then squeeze out any excess moisture and add it to the pan. Stir until the gelatine has fully dissolved, then pass the mixture through a sieve to remove the vanilla pod and ensure the cream is silky smooth
2 1/2 gelatine leaves
Allow the mixture to cool but not to set fully, whisk and then pour into the moulds. Refrigerate the moulds (making sure they are level) and leave the panna cotta to set for up to 6 hours
For the strawberries, remove their stems and cut into evenly-sized quarters. Carefully mix the strawberries with the icing sugar in a bowl - taking care not to crush them - and leave to one side until required
1 punnet of strawberries, fresh
2 tbsp of icing sugar
Mix the lemon zest and the olive oil together to form a dressing, then drizzle over enough to coat the strawberries in a small layer. Add the sliced mint leaves and a pinch of rock salt as required
1 lemon, zested
3 tbsp of olive oil
6 mint leaves, large, sliced
1 pinch of rock salt
When ready to serve take the panna cotta out of the fridge and briefly dip the moulds into a bowl of hot water to loosen the mix away from the sides. Carefully turn the mould upside down onto the serving plate to remove the panna cotta and place the strawberries in a circle around the outside. Drizzle a little of the strawberry juice around the plate and grate over some more white chocolate. Serve immediately
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