This is an easy recipe that comes together in minutes. I was inspired by two beautiful mangos, sitting on a platter in my kitchen. I also drew inspiration from Josh Lewin’s list of indispensible Indian ingredients. A nice prelude to his upcoming Bread & Salt dinner, you should go if you haven’t dined with Josh and Katrian yet. Or even if you have. Thinking about the ingredients I love and the items on hand, I put this panna cotta together.

Roses and a Queen

 

Culinary rosebuds figure in the cuisines of ancients Romans, Persians, Indians all use them and rosewater is distilled essence of rose is a favorite ingredient in baking. Gulab jamun is an Indian sweet of fried balls of sweetened condense milk drizzled with rose scented syrup.

Cardamom, those little green pods in the photo, are a wonderful addition to both sweet and savory dishes. Known as the Queen of Spices you might be surprised at the diversity of ways you can employ cardamom. Along with rose, it’s a component of ras al hanout the complex spice blend that gives tagines of North Africa their unique fragrance. It appears in rices, curries, puddings and cookies.

Cardamom is in the ginger family the aromatic pods have notes of camphor, eucalyptus and pine. Hand-harvested and air-dried, it’s nearly as costly as saffron. It’s native to India’s Ghat Mountains and Sri Lanka. In India one of the first foods babies are fed is cardamom-scented rice. Try dropping a pod or two in the next pot of rice you make or substituting cardamom for cinnamon in cookies. coconut chai panna cotta 2

Coconut Chai Panna Cotta

Panna cotta literally means cooked cream. It’s an easy dessert, especially well-suited to dinner guests and warm weather. Why? It needs to be made ahead of time! Panna cotta is a favorite of mine as it’s easy to make dairy-free. In this version I use a combination of canned coconut milk as you find in Asian markets and coconut based milk alternatives you find in regular grocery stores.

Chai spices are warm and often contain cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg. Here’s a lovely story and recipe from my friend Raghavan Iyer.

A note about vanilla sugar: Have you ever used whole vanilla bean? It’s wonderful and the great thing about the fragrant pods is that you get dual use from them. Usually recipes will ask you to scrape the sticky middle out of the pod – but don’t throw away the pod itself! Drop it into a jar of sugar and put in the cabinet. In a short time, you’ll have vanilla sugar. Use one bean, whole or scraped to 2 cups of sugar.

Ingredients:

  • 1 14 oz can coconut milk, divided
  • 1 packet gelatin (you could also use agar agar for a totally vegan version)
  • ~ 1/2 C milk substitute (like So Delicious Coconut Milk)
  • 1/4 C vanilla sugar (or regular sugar + 1/4 tsp vanilla)
  • 6 dried rosebuds (culinary)
  • 8 green cardamom pods
  • 1-2 TBSP chai spice (here I used the last of my Arvinda’s blend)

Directions:

  1. Reserve about 1/2 C of cocunut milk in a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over it, whisk to dissolve.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring remaining coconut milk/milk subst (to fill 2 C measure) just to boil with with sugar, chai spice, rosebuds and cardamom pods. Do not scorch, reduce heat to medium.
  3. Stir until sugar has dissolved and milk has become infused with the spices, just a few minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, whisk in the dissolved gelatin (which will look like snow-white mashed potatoes at this point.)
  5. Strain into small cups. Decorate if you wish with rose petals, chill.

coconut chai panna cotta 1

Serve with slices of fresh, ripe mango.

 

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Find out why BostInno said we’re one of 5 social clubs in Boston that you must join!

The Oyster Century Club

Tasting our way through 100 varieties of oysters with prizes for milestones along the way. (Congratulations Larry Yu for winning the first one!)

To get the ball rolling, the first 10 members to join will receive autographed copies of the definitive Oyster lover’s book: A Geography of Oysters. Rowan Jacobsen’s guide includes tasting notes on over 100 types of oysters, clever descriptions of oyster lovers by type (The Shrinking Violet, The Brine Hound, The Connoisseur…), recipes and regional guides.

For OCC© members who reach 100 varieties, there will be a certificate of the accomplishment suitable for framing.

We’ll use the hashtag #oyster100 on Twitter. We’ll snap our photos and share our slurps on Facebook. We’ll give each other a heads up when favorite oyster bars feature special oysters not to be missed. Belons in town? Tweet it and let us know!

  • Bookmark this page for updates.
  • Buy your Oyster Century Club© Tasting Sheet (see sidebar)
  • Make a date for an oyster bar near you, buy some oysters to shuck at home, or plan an oyster tasting party!

FAQs

Why oysters? Why now?

I love them – you love them. I began to wonder how many I’ve tried. I wanted to share the love and to create a fun event to christen the new website. 

Do I have to get the oyster bar to sign my form? Must I have it with me when I dine out?

Please be considerate of your servers and shuckers. If you can get someone’s initials without disrupting their work, by all means, do. It will be fun to see later how many you had here or there and to remember the evening. If everyone’s too busy or you forgot your form: simply snap a pic and Tweet it with the #Oyster100 hashtag, then make a note that you’ve done so.

As we mount a midden of spent shells, we might get distracted. To keep our focus, we will have special prizes/incentives for benchmarks along the way as well as special guest posts and recipes.

In order to be eligible for the prizes you must document tasting via your form.

Do I have to live in Boston to play along?

No! You can join and track your tasting adventures from where ever you live!

Can I include varieties I taste at home?

Of course! We have discovered that the seafood counter at Whole Foods – Charles River Park is a great place to find fresh oysters to enjoy at home. See what’s available at your local Whole Foods Seafood counter.

How will you know if I’ve really tasted all 100?

Well obviously, this is an honor system, but I’m sure I can count on my fellow fans of bivalves to be honest, right? Your form will be filled out for prizes and I’ll be seeing who’s tweeting with the #Oyster110 hashtag.

Is there really such a thing as merroir?

Of course! Consider the vast majority of East Coast oysters are Crassotrea virginica but how different a Wellfleet tastes as compared to a Chincoteague. Just as the Chardonnay grape has a different expression when grown in the soil of Burgundy versus California, so does the environment of the oyster contribute to its flavor. Salinity of the water, the tides, the water temperature, the microorganisms the oysters feed on and filter from the water — all these factors contribute its profile.

Do grilled or broiled oysters count?

I suppose I’d have to say yes. It would be interesting to see if the flavor of one oyster variety versus another would be apparent through the grilling/broiling flavors.

Great! I’m in – what do I do now?

Get your tasting form (Paypal button sidebar). I’ll send your very own Oyster Century Club© tasting form once payment’s been received. Tweet your membership with the #Oyster100 hashtag.

Come back to this site where I’ll also be sharing recipes, oyster lore, fun facts along the way. Share your oyster experience and if you post, let me know and I’ll link back to you and tweet your post, too.

I’m also lining up a few very special guest posts and of course, I’m tasting, tasting. (Umamis and Cotuits most recently.)

August update Oyster Century Club posts and updates.

 

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Are You a Member? 5 Boston Social Clubs You Need to Know About | BostInno

July 8, 2014

We are delighted to be one of five Boston Social Clubs, BostInno singled out for “must join” status! We welcome all new members and have some exciting events on the horizon. Come slurp and sip and laugh and learn with us! We’ll tell you why the old “R” month rule is passé and share favorite […]

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Aw Shucks Slurps & Sips Class: Hashtag Schwag Winner

June 17, 2014

Our sold-out Oyster Century Club© Slurps & Sips class was a hit! Sixteen oyster lovers became Oyster Century Club members and shared their favorite spots to enjoy oysters, as well as questions. I demonstrated how to buy, store and shuck at home, shared oyster facts and trivia, and we paired our oysters with three different […]

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Aw Shucks! Slurps and Sips Event at Whole Foods Market June 5

May 19, 2014

<< Click anywhere on graphic to go to registration page!>>

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Food Allergy Awareness Week: Dining Out – Advice for Restaurants, Tips for Diners

May 14, 2014

15 million Americans have food allergies, and these numbers continue to rise. Restaurants ignore this issue at their own peril and that of their customers. In my experience, the vast majority of people in the hospitality industry do care about helping their guests have an enjoyable experience. Landing a guest in the hospital is not […]

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Food Allergy Awareness Week: Summer Camps & Safety

May 12, 2014

  Did you know this week is Food Allergy Awareness Week? With up to 15 million people in the United States affected by food allergies, it’s time to learn a little more about this potentially deadly medical condition, and how to live with them if you or someone you love is diagnosed.   In honor […]

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What to pack, how to prep when you’re a food-allergic traveler

May 1, 2014

The thrill of travel is my siren song. I used to dream of filling a passport before it expired. Never happened, but I did manage to get to many great places. Machu Picchu, Xi’an, Tulum. Life can throw you one curveball after another, some good, some not so good. Layoffs, pink slips, food allergies. My […]

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Tuscan Garlic & Herb Salt

April 17, 2014

Herbs and Spices can enliven your cooking with out added fat. Simple herb salts like this one can play well with lamb, beef, chicken and pork. It’s also terrific on roasted potatoes. Mix it into softened butter or olive oil to roast a chicken or sprinkle over barley. You’re getting the picture, right? True utility […]

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Fifteen Million Reasons – - Why I’m Speaking at the 1st Annual Food Allergy Conference

April 11, 2014

Doing my part – in June – speaking at the first annual Food Allergy Research & Education conference in Chicago.   Here’s the conference schedule and my speaker page.       That’s right, 15 million Americans are living with food allergies. That’s 15 million reasons to get educated about keeping people with food allergies […]

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