"Top Chef" recipe: Yogurt panna cotta

October 27, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A twist on a classic Italian dessert, yogurt panna cotta, from "Top Chef" contestant Marisa Churchill. She is also the consulting pastry chef for Zare at Fly Trap.

Recipe: Yogurt Panna Cotta
Serves 9

  • 1 1/4 c heavy cream
  • 1/4 c plus 1 T sugar
  • 2 sheets gelatin or 1/2 envelope Knox brand powdered gelatine
  • 3/4 c low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 c Greek-style yogurt, preferably Fage brand
  • 3/4 c truffle honey

Combine first 2 ingredients in a medium saucepan over med-high heat. Heat almost to a boil to dissolve sugar, stirring gently to help combine. Once sugar is dissolved, remove from burner.

Place about 1/4 cup cold water in a small bowl and add gelatin sheets to soften. (If using Knox envelope, soften according to package directions.) Once soft, remove from cold water and place sheets in warm cream. Whisk cream until gelatin dissolves completely. (If using Knox, simply pour mixture into cream and stir to combine.)

When cream is still warm, pour in buttermilk and then yogurt. Whisk again until liquid is uniform in consistency. Fill 9 ramekins 2/3 with liquid and place in the refrigerator to chill and solidify the panna cotta (about 5-6 hours). Garnish each ramekin with 1 T truffle honey.

Serve chilled directly from refrigerator.

Recipe: Candied Kalamata Olives

  • 2 c sugar
  • 2 c water
  • 1/2 c corn syrup
  • 3 c kalamata olives

Combine first 3 ingredients and cook in a large saucepan over medium heat until all sugar has dissolved. Add olives and cook for 30 minutes over medium heat. Cool mixture and store the olives in a mason jar in the syrup.

Recipe: Candied Kalamata Olive Biscotti

  • 5 eggs
  • 1/4 c plus 1 T sugar
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 3/4 c + 2 T flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 T baking soda
  • 1 c strained, diced candied kalamata olives

Place rack at the top of convection oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Combine dry ingredients and citrus zest in a large mixing bowl with a mixer with a dough paddle on medium speed. Add the eggs and continue beating, scraping the sides of the bowl intermittedly, until soft dough forms. Add in the olives and mix until well-blended. Divide dough evenly into 3 portions and roll each into a log. Place logs on cookie sheet and par-bake for 15-20 minutes.

On the day of serving, preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Place each par-baked log on a cutting board and cut horizontally into 1/4 or 1/3 inch slices. Place slices on cookie sheet and finish baking until dry and golden around edges (about 10-15 minutes) in a 300 degree F oven.

Serve biscotti with yogurt panna cotta.

About Marisa Churchill:
Marisa's love of cooking began early in life. As a young girl she cooked in the kitchen with her Greek grandmother. By her grandmother's side Marisa learned how to cure her own olives, make homemade breads and pastas, and how to make a wide variety of authentic Greek dishes.

In 1999 Marisa decided to turn her life-long passion for cooking into a career. She graduated from the California Culinary Academy, and later continued her culinary education in savory cooking and advanced pastry skills at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. Marisa has worked at such notable restaurants as Tra Vigne, Rubicon, The Slanted Door, LuLu, Ame, and Yoshi's . She's currently the head of recipe development for the Mezzetta product line and is the consulting pastry chef for Pampas and Zaré at Fly Trap.

Marisa's work has been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, and has also received high praise in Food Arts, Bon Appetit, and Food & Wine. She has appeared on KRON, NBC, Comcast, Tokyo tv, Bravo's Top Chef, and the Food Network.

About Zaré at Fly Trap:
Zaré at Fly Trap takes the Barbary Coast appeal of a classic San Francisco restaurant into the modern dining age. Hoss Zaré's California-Mediterranean all-day bistro menu includes influences from Zaré's native Iran and is sustainably and locally sourced whenever possible. Menu items will change frequently depending on what's in season. Favorites such as pistachio meatballs with harissa-honey-pomegranate glaze, baby octopus and calamari salad with lemon confit vinaigrette and braised single-bone short ribs with foie gras-truffle oil bone marrow represent the bright, sometimes rich, flavors and authenticity of Zaré at Fly Trap's cuisine. Consulting pastry chef and former Bravo Top Chef contestant Marisa Churchill has tapped into her own Greek roots for inspiration in desserts that marry classic Mediterranean ingredients to Bay Area sensibilities.

On the wine list crafted by Chris Blanchard, master sommelier and former wine director at Redd in Napa, Calif., Mediterranean varietals predominate in order to perfectly favor the restaurant's theme. A generous selection of half bottles is also on offer to encourage exploration and multiple pairings throughout the course of the meal. In the spirits department, Reza Esmaili shakes up a singular cocktail list divided into two sections: Barbary Coast-style drinks and Mediterranean-style creations.

The restaurant is open continuously Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-midnight; Saturday, 6 p.m.-midnight; the bar is open Monday-Saturday, 6 p.m.- 1 a.m. The restaurant is closed on Sunday. Zaré at Fly Trap is located at 606 Folsom St. (at 2nd St.), in San Francisco, Calif. For reservations, visit www.zareflytrap.com or call (415) 243-0580.

For more information, visit www.zareflytrap.com.


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