THIS WEEK Celebrity Chef from Ready Steady Cook & Master Chef Steven Saunders, proprietor of The Little Geranium in La Cala asks Michele to make a dessert for a special wedding!
It’s not every day we get asked to do a wedding outside the restaurant but recently some lovely Norwegian clients asked me if we would cater for their special day after eating several times at The Little Geranium. They told me that they had never expected or experienced food like ours on this coastline and it inspired them to get married over here rather than in Norway!
We were flattered but it was a Saturday evening and we were already fully booked when they asked me. I would have to call in some favours and one of them was to ask my wife Michele to run the event which was to be held in Puerto Banus in a magnificent eight bedroom designer villa with breath-taking views of LaConcha mountain.
The other favour I called came from Salvador my friend and business colleague at El Torreon restaurant in La Cala. He lent me three fabulous waiting staff.
An outside event takes a lot of planning and a wedding is a seriously important event that we wanted to make feel more than special.
A little short on chefs for the prep of the wedding, I asked Michele: “Could you make the dessert?”
Now Michele is no chef! She is an excellent ballerina, dance/pilates teacher but when it comes to cooking I wouldn’t say it was a strong point!
However she was on Come Dine With Me a couple of years ago (not really a cooking show!) she didn’t win, she came second, but I know if she puts her mind to it, she could cook.
“Sure I will have a go,” she said. The bride and groom had chosen a Pannacotta for dessert which should be creamy, smooth and blancmange-like. It can be flavoured with anything really, but usually coffee or vanilla.
The words pannacotta are Italian and mean cooked cream. This was going to be a vanilla pannacotta with fresh berries celebrating the delicious summer berries we have over here. So we created this simple recipe with three or four ingredients.
I got in late that night after work and opened the fridge. Wow! They look amazing I said! It was simple she said, you should write a book based on three or four ingredients like this recipe, quick, easy and delicious. Michele was very proud of herself and as I pushed my fork into the pannacotta it was surprisingly rich, creamy and smooth, packed with vanilla seeds and cutting through the smooth lushness was the slightly tarty taste of the blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. It had all the right wobble too, I was impressed.
“Not too sweet,” I said. “Exactly as it should be,” she said, “creamy but not oversweet you get the sweetness from the fruit”. Has Michele had a brain transplant from dancer to chef overnight?
The wedding couple Stine and Elvind absolutely loved the day, despite the storms and rain and Michele added her little touches of hearts, lanterns, candles and little flowery lights everywhere to create a beautiful ambience to the occasion.
“We are blown away,” the bride said, “by the attention to detail and the pannacotta was the best we have ever had!”
Well done to my excellent team, Michele, Danielle, Jamie, Taryn and Manuel for making it such a success. Our Geranium team is available for the next lucky happy couple and I am sure they will be having the pannacotta too! Lol
Here is the recipe for you to try.
Ingredients for pannacotta (makes six small moulds)
250 ml thick cream
50 ml of milk
4 flat tablespoons of caster sugar
2 leaves of gelatine
2 vanilla pods with seeds removed
a few drops vanilla essence
6 small sprigs of fresh mint for garnish
Ingredients for compote of berries
1 punnet of blackberries
1 punnet of raspberries
1 punnet of strawberries
1 punnet blueberries
4 heaped tablespoons of caster sugar
4 tablespoons of Cointreau or other similar liquor
Method for panna cotta
- Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for between 5 & 10 mins until soft
- Warm up the thick cream in a saucepan and add the milk and the sugar
- Stir well until the cream has dissolved all the sugar ( about 5 mins)
- Add the vanilla seeds and the vanilla essence and keep stirring
- Squeeze the water out of the gelatine and now add it to the cream mix
- Finally pass the mixture through a sieve into a clean jug
- Pour the mixture into little moulds and add the raspberries to each, allow to setflat in the fridge.It will need at least 6 hours maybe more. Best to make it the day before.
For the fruit
- Cut blueberries and strawberries in halves but leave the raspberries and blueberries whole
- Wash in cold water in a colander
- Tip the fruits into a bowl and add the sugar and mix well in.
- Add the liquor and stir gently in
- Allow to sit in the fridge for at least 6 hours.
- Turn the panna cottas out of the moulds. (I use a blow torch on the base and then ease out with a small knife.) You can also use a pan of warm water dipping the base of the panna cotta to ease them out.
- Place them onto the presentation plate ( easier on one plate in centre of the table)
- Spoon the fruits around and garnish with fresh mint sprigs
Note …You can drain off the fruit liquid a few hours before serving and then reduce it down in a saucepan. Then when cool you can use this to dress the fruits which will give it shine and more flavour.
You can email Steven for any questions or bookings at:
Steven Saunders FMCGB
The Little Geranium
La Cala de Mijas (Behind the Town Hall)