Brodetto, and Vanilla Pannacotta

So yesterday I decided to treat my wife, as I do on a regular basis, in case that typical thought popped into your head. As I am currently unemployed I have become the houseboy, which is not a completely accurate description, as I do not have to perform any undesirable tasks for the mistress of the house. But I am straying way off topic right now. We can always explore this further at another time.

As much as I have spent many wonderful and fruitful hours in the kitchen, I’m not a baker nor a dessert maker, but I’d watched a guy on TV describe making pannacotta with such pleasure, that I was inspired to try making it from scratch.

Pannacotta is an Italian dessert of sweetened cream thickened with gelatin and molded. It can then be flavored with many options like brandy, coffee, fruit or vanilla, as in this recipe. The recipe called for gelatin which I have never ever used before. Dutifully I followed the instructions adding a tablespoon of cold water to the gelatin powder and ended up with a sticky ball the size of a grape inside the whisk. The dissolved gelatin was supposed to be poured, which was clearly not going to happen with this glutinous little rival. So I checked the instructions on the gelatin package, (yeah-yeah), I hear it, R.T.F.M., which says to use hot water to dissolve the powder into. Finally, I had a clear liquid that could be poured. With an immense sense of accomplishment, I could measure this warm rich vanilla flavoured liquid into some ramekin dishes, and popped them in the fridge.

I then proceeded to prepare the Brodetto.

Brodetto is Italian fish stew, and there are multiple variations on the recipe. I chose Brodetto Ancona style.

The recipe I chose called for red snapper. As there is no fishmonger in the little town where I live, I headed off to the supermarket, only to find out that there was no red snapper available. The young girl, I swear could not be older than 16, behind the deli counter assured me that the fresh rockfish that was on display is a suitable substitute. Not really convinced of that, I bought the rockfish fillets.

Once I arrived home, and a quick search on Google, I confirmed that she was, in fact, right about the Pacific Rockfish, also known as Pacific Red Snapper.

So along with fresh clams, 3 tiny lobster tails and bay scallops my first attempt at this fish stew began its life. The rockfish turned out to be succulent bathed in the tomato-rich broth with toasted yeasty Italian bread on the side for one of the servings and smothered with the stew for the other serving. The clams and scallops still held their individual flavours. This may be a peasant meal but it made me feel like I owned the sea.

I served the Pannacotta on shortbread slices, with warmed orange marmalade on top which oozed down the sides like molten lava melting the Pannacotta along its way. I believe I’ve converted my wife to a dessert lover, well at least to a Vanilla Pannacotta lover.

I am not sorry, or maybe just a little, that there isn’t a single photo, as the plates were polished off.

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