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Fennel Panna Cotta with Grilled Strawberries

For the panna cottas:

Nonstick oil spray, for preparing ramekins

1 bulb fennel, including feathery top

3 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup whole milk

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon honey, preferably lemongrass honey

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 grinds freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons licorice-flavored liqueur, such as anisette or sambuca

1 tablespoon powdered plain gelatin softened in 1/2 cup cold water, or 4 sheets gelatin soaked in 1/2 cup cold water

For the strawberries:

3 cups medium strawberries, washed, blotted dry and hulled, reserving 8 berries with stems for garnish

1 cup sugar, plus 21/2 tablespoons

1 vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise

1 cup chilled heavy cream

For the panna cottas: Lightly coat eight 6- to 8-ounce ramekins with the nonstick cooking oil spray and set aside (disposable foil cups are okay to use). Refrigerate a large stainless-steel mixing bowl until well chilled.

Cut feathery tops off the fennel bulb; chop enough of most delicate fronds (about 1/2-inch lengths) to fill 1/2 cup and set aside. Cut bulb in half from stem to root end and then cut into very thin slices. Place sliced fennel, the heavy cream, milk, sugar, honey, salt and pepper in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to ensure that sugar has dissolved, then remove from heat and let mixture steep for 15 minutes. Strain, discarding solids. Add the liqueur and softened gelatin and stir until gelatin has completely dissolved. Divide reserved, chopped fronds among ramekins,