first strawberries

some time between the Chelsea Flower Show and the first week of Wimbledon, the strawberries on our allotment begin to turn a lovely ruby red, ready to be picked ....
..... and sure enough, here is the first bowlful picked the other day.
The first strawberries are so eagerly awaited and picked with such excitement, that it seems best to eat them just as they are.
However, sometimes it's nice to have them with something a little creamy and the Italian dessert, panna cotta fits the bill.

The British are usually champions at all things pudding, but I have to admit that in this case the Italians seem to have won out.
The nearest thing we Brits have to panna cotta is blancmange, which is really like a thick cold custard and seems to be very much the poor relation.
I hope I'm not offending any blancmange lovers, but I'm not really a fan of this sixties mainstay of school dinners, with its lurid colour and thick, leathery skin.
 Nor is mr digandweed, in fact he still shudders at childhood memories of it and has an aversion to 'wibbly wobbly' desserts of any kind !
 So much so, that I had difficulty in persuading him to try what he called ' an italian version of blancmange'.

However, after the first creamy, smooth mouthful, he was won over and declared it to be an altogether different experience.

Panna cotta is very easy to make.
It translates as cooked cream, although the dessert is not really cooked but rather set with gelatine.

Here is the recipe I used, adapted from The Forager's Kitchen  by Fiona Bird :

350 ml full fat milk
250 ml double cream
40g caster sugar
3 small sheets gelatine
1 tsp vanilla paste

Soak the gelatine sheets in cold water for 3/4 minutes until soft.
Heat the milk, cream and sugar until the sugar has dissolved.
Squeeze excess water from the gelatine and add to the milk mixture.
Stir over a very low heat until the gelatine has dissolved.
Pour the mixture into 4 x100ml ramekins or moulds and refrigerate until set.
Dip moulds briefly in warm water to help loosen and turn out onto a dish.

p.s. the black speckles on my photo are the vanilla seeds which for some reason all sank to the bottom!



  1. I love panna cotta & yours looks wonderful, my strawberries are a week or two off ripening yet.

  2. Looks delicious, as usual. Home grown strawberries are a real achievement - the slugs always love mine

    1. Thank you. Slugs are a problem. I cover the strawberries with netting which traps some of them and I put on my gloves and scoop the others up with a trowel! Ugh!

  3. I've never tried making it but it does sound delicious.

  4. Beautiful and delicious! I've just picked my first strawberries and can't wait to have them with a drop of cream.

  5. Love strawberries. I could eat an entire punnet!

  6. Love pannacotta, our strawberries are mostly finished now, I'm just leaving a few for the birds.


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