I told you I would get back to you after I tried out a couple of recipes from My Berlin Kitchen, and here I am! You didn't think I forgot, did you?
First up, the ragù. In the book, Luisa warns you that any cook time of less than 5 hours simmering this sauce isn't really worth it. I can see why she says this. I started my prep after lunch, and my whole house smelled moderately awful until at least 3pm (though I should probably add the disclaimer that we are not big meat-eaters and very rarely pork eaters--this recipe requires 1 pound each of beef and pork). Thank goodness it was a reasonable temperature outside, so I could open the windows and back door. My wee girl kept wondering aloud what that horrible stink was, and I pretended not to know. Not appetizing. Then, around the 3 or 4 hour mark, something changed. The smell changed for sure. I didn't taste the ragù early on while it was distinctively fragrant, but I'm betting the flavor made a huge leap forward too. At the 5 hour mark, it smelled almost sweet and definitely delicious. The flavor was great, far greater than the sum of its parts. In addition to being easy to cook, it's a solid basic sauce, good on pasta or lasagna or frozen for future use. I'm glad we stuck it out, but I will remember next time to prep on a weekday when my eaters are not at home during the early stages. My oh my.
Next, the buttermilk panna cotta. I knew this had to be made before I even finished reading that chapter. Luisa wrote about the glories of a cold drink of buttermilk on a hot summer day. I bet most people I know would screw their noses up at this idea, but my husband wholeheartedly agrees. He has tried repeatedly over the years to sing the praises of buttermilk in hopes I might adopt it too. I love to cook with it, but drink? Not so much. This dessert seemed a perfect match for both of us, and it was! Cream, vanilla beans, and buttermilk cooked and cooled to perfection. The texture of creme brûlée (minus the burnt sugar shell). So smooth, cool and absolutely delicious! The perfect summer dessert for grown-ups (our girls tried it but couldn't get past the buttermilk tang). We loved it with and without the berry topping Luisa recommended. Yum.
Have you tried and loved any new recipes lately?