Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Festa Italiana

I just heard about the wonderful Festa Italiana being hosted by Maryann of Finding la Dolce Vita and Marie of Proud Italian Cook, and thought I would send my two recipes for savory panna cotta and biscotti their way.

This is also my entry for the Royal Foodie Joust, presided over as always by The Leftover Queen. The three magic ingredients for the March Joust are shallots, orange citrus, and edible flowers. See my original post with complete photos here.
Voting is still open until March 7, btw, you can vote for my post on the Leftover Queen forum.

My idea was for a savory panna cotta flavored with lavender and shallots, with an orangey, caramel-y sauce. Recently WF was "sampling" a delicious triple-creme cheese with a wonderful fig and nut conserve poured on top and served with crackers: the perfect combination of savory, creamy-smooth, rich, sweet, salty and crunchy. That's exactly what I wanted for this dish, which is intended to serve as an appetizer/first course. (Of course, DC and I ate it for lunch, but after taking photos, we couldn't let it go to waste, now, could we?) To go along with my panna cotta, I developed a recipe for Black Pepper, Lemon, and Walnut Biscotti, to give some crunch and spice to the smooth, rich, eggless custard.

Here is my original recipe for

Lavender-Shallot Panna Cotta with Caramelized Oranges and Burnt Orange Sauce With Black Pepper, Lemon, and Walnut Biscotti

2 T dried lavender flowers
1 c. heavy cream
2 t. unflavored gelatin powder
5 T freshly-squeezed lemon juice, preferably meyer lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon (preferably meyer lemon)
1 c. whole milk
4 oz. fresh chevre (goat cheese), softened (such as Cypress Grove Purple Haze)
2 T + 1 T finely minced shallot
1 T minced chives

For the Lavender-Thyme Burnt-Orange sauce and Caramelized Oranges:
2 large oranges (I used Cara Caras)
3/4 c. freshly-squeezed orange juice (from about 2 lg. oranges)
Grated zest from 2 lg. oranges
1/3 c. fresh lemon juice, from about 1 1/2 lemons (I used Meyer lemons)
1 t. dried lavender flowers
1 vanilla bean
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
Fresh ground black pepper
pinch of salt
2 T water
1 1/2 t. light corn syrup
1/2 c. sugar

Now, it's time to make the Caramelized Oranges and the Lavender-Thyme Burnt Orange Sauce for the panna cotta.

Oranges in their bath of lavender-thyme burnt-orange syrup

And look how pretty these candied flowers are!

Serve the panna cotta with the caramelized oranges and lavender-thyme burnt orange sauce, with some Black Pepper, Lemon and Walnut Biscotti on the side.

Lavender-Shallot Panna Cotta with Burnt Orange Sauce and Caramelized Oranges

A silky and savory panna cotta celebrates the flavors of ...

See Lavender-Shallot Panna Cotta with Burnt Orange Sauce and Caramelized Oranges on Key Ingredient.

Black Pepper, Lemon and Walnut Biscotti

Savory, slightly sweet biscotti made with cracked black pepper, lemon ...

See Black Pepper, Lemon and Walnut Biscotti on Key Ingredient.


  1. wow, karen, that's quite a creation! i think it's a fabulous contribution to the festa, and i could go for some right now. talk about refreshing. :)

  2. Those are just beautiful!!! I would feel a little guilty eating them. But I am sure they taste incredible. :)

  3. Yum, and I am like you on the cabbage rolls, I do not care for custard like desserts, hubby is crazy for them, but this sounds right up my citrus alley and what a gorgeous presentation you have done! *clapping* I am about to go read some more of your stuff thanks for coming over to my corner of the blog sphere!

  4. I loved this Panna Cotta as your Joust entry and it's definitely a great dish for the IFesta Italiana.

  5. SOOO creative, its just gorgeous!! Your idea was spectacular. I wish I had an ounce, just an ounce, of that creative juice!! Its gorgeous, Karen!

  6. It's so pretty!! You did a wonderful job from top to bottom. The flavors are scrumptious and the presentation gorgeous!!

  7. Savory panna cotta?? You're brilliant! The presentation is absolutely divine, and those flowers..!! Mmm!

  8. Grace, Julia, E, Natasha, Donna, Reeni, & Jesse--

    Thank you so much for your kind words! I had a lot of fun creating this dish-- and Donna, you have MORE than an ounce of creativity! I always, always, laugh when I read your posts.

    It really did taste good, too! :)

    Thanks again, everyone!

  9. Such a pretty dessert! Thanks for joining our table at the festa!
    Maryann xox

  10. Karen, How gorgeous! Almost to pretty to eat. Almost! Thanks for joining us once again!
    xox, Marie


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