Squash Panna Cotta w/ Cranberry Compote & Walnut Tuile

One of the great things about the food blogging community is the wonderful people you get to meet, and today was no exception. I had the pleasure to meet with a few bloggers over a late lunch organized by Stacey from stacey snacks, whom i thank a million for her generosity. Lupa was such a great spot for the occasion.

The guest of honor was Peter from Kalofagas who’s visiting from Toronto and taking a big bite of the Big Apple this week. After some friendly food blogger chit-chat we decided to take him hostage and we’re now asking the online community to pay-up a ransom of 10,000 peanuts in exchange for his safe return to Toronto. Peanuts can be Fedexed directly to me and will be shared with Giff from The constable’s larder, Rachel from Bacon and rhubarb, Claire from Colloquial Cookin’ and of course Stacey from Stacey Snacks who were all accomplices in his kidnap. They make great lunching companions as well.

We’re keeping Peter the Greek at an undisclosed location until further notice and will be feeding him cubes of feta cheese and kalamata olives, because we’re really not that cruel. I’m such an amateur that I didn’t even take any pictures so you’ll have to visit the blogs of the persons aforementioned to see more.

I know there’s more pumpkin recipes on the internet than fat molecules in Paula Deen’s arteries, but hey! One more fried butter ball won’t hurt, right? In this case – and healthy in comparison – a Squash Panna Cotta offset with the best cranberry compote on the planet (the same one i serve with my turkey at Thanksgiving) and a crispestest walnut tuile, eva’! Simple, good, and in the spirit of the Holiday season.

Crispetest is a new word. I just invented it. It’ s mine! You can keep the recipe though.

Squash Panna Cotta w/ Cranberry Compote & Walnut Tuile

~adapted from a recipe by Daniel Boulud in Daniel’s Dish~(serves 8)

For the panna cotta:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Four 1/4-inch thick slices peeled ginger
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 strip orange zest
  • 2 star anise
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 lbs kabocha or butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 -inch chunks
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin

For the cranberry compote:

  • 3 cups fresh cranberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • Two 1/4-inch-thick slices peeled ginger
  • 2 star anise
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 strip of orange zest
  • Pinch of salt

For the walnut tuiles:

  • 3 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/4 sugar
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

To make panna cotta: Combine the milk, ginger, vanilla-bean, cinnamon, orange zest, star anise, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, cover, and let infuse for 20 minutes.

Strain the milk. Return to the same saucepan and add the squash. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and poach until the squash is very tender, about 20 minutes. Add the sugar, stir until dissolved, and remove from heat.

Transfer the squash mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a 4 cup liquid measure; discard the solids. Add more cream if necessary to equal 3 1/2 cups.

Sprinkle the gelatin over 2 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan; let stand 5 minutes to soften. Add 1/2 cup of the squash puree to the gelatin. Warm over very low heat, stirring until the gelatin dissolves. Stir into the remaining squash mixture. Divide the panna-cotta mixture among eight 4-ounce ramekins or fancy pants spheric molds. Refrigerate overnight.

To make the cranberry compote: Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and cook 10 to 15 minutes over medium heat, stirring, until the cranberries start to lose their shape and most of the liquid has evaporated.

To make the walnut tuiles: Whisk together the butter, corn syrup, sugar and walnuts in a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly against the surface of the batter. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350F. For each tuile, drop 1/2 teaspoon of the batter onto the baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between each drops. Press the batter lightly with your thumb until each drop is about 1 inch in diameter. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until the tuiles are thin, lacy and golden brown.

Wait one minute and using a small offset spatula, remove the tuile from the baking sheet and place them on that bottle of cheap zinfandel vinegar you got as a gift last year. Let them cool and store in an airtight container in a cool, dry environment.

When the compote is ready, scrap onto a bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Discard the ginger, vanilla and spices before serving.

To serve: To unmold, run the tip of a small knife around the edges of the panna cottas. Dip the ramekin halfway into a bowl of hot water for 5 to 10 seconds. Dry the bottom and invert onto a plate. Garnish with a spoonful of cranberry compote and a tuile.


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  • Giff

    it was great meeting you and the gang! I do have a photo to post – hoping to find time tomorrow evening

  • ila

    oye, so beautiful! thanks for the neato trick with the tuile… i never knew what those were called, so i called them ‘lacey cookies’. i think i just grew a new brain cell today.

  • Manggy

    Nooo! I want pictures now! 😉 Now I’m suddenly afraid to announce exactly when I’ll be in New York (don’t flatter yourself Manggy!). Peter’s a lucky guy!
    Hmm… Between a fried butter ball and the squash panna cotta, I choose the latter. But that choice was too easy! Very elegant, Zen-man… I’m loving the demisphere :)

  • The Short (dis)Order Cook

    It was awesome meeting you and I’m compiling my peanut recipes. I give Peter extra olives since I don’t like them myself.

  • doggybloggy

    beautifully done as usual mister zen – I feel a tuile kick coming on…

  • Stacey Snacks

    you made this as soon as you left Lupa last night, right?

    wine makes you a better chef!
    great meeting you yesterday.

  • T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types

    I was immediately taken by that “sunny side up” look. Pretty incredible!

  • Anali

    I guess I need to start buying some peanuts for Peter’s release! Sounds like you all had a great time in the NYC. ; )

  • Meghan

    this shows your amazing talents! i love this…

    P.S. I’m so jealous of your meetup… I’ve been a fan of Peter’s, especially, for a long time.

  • TavoLini

    Very cool! The tuile reminds me of a pringle in shape–what a neato trick 😀

  • My Sweet & Saucy

    That was so not a nice joke about Paula Dean…I mean doesn’t everyone use sticks and sticks of butter! Haha…anyways, once again you have put a lovely twist on a popular dessert…love it!

  • Colloquial Cook

    Peter says he’d rather stay kidnapped – sorry guys, but please by all means keep sending in those peanuts and kalamatas. Thank you for him (and us).

  • Mike of Mike’s Table

    When I saw that first photo, I thought you were serving a raw egg yolk which seemed like a very bizarre dessert. But now having read through the whole post, wow. And now I need those hemisphere molds! The whole thing is beautifully presented–a welcome change from the usual, not so exciting looking panna cottas out there

  • Tenina

    and it is this sort of stuff that makes you my idol…great desserts, wit and good looks, what more could a gal ask for?

  • Darius T. Williams

    Why does everything you do look soooo great?

    AND you get to hang out with great bloggers. Geeze. I envy you!


  • Rosa’s Yummy Yums

    A delightful and refined dessert! Really pretty too!



  • foodhuntress79

    Wow, meeting up with the bloggers! How cool is that? I don’t know any blogger outside the sphere it makes me downright nervous to step into reality because the blog alter ego is totally different. Zen Chef, remember me when you’re famous! Haha.

    Panna Cotta always go great with compote and something crisp to bite. :)

  • Cindy. Lo.

    That tuile looks so yummy,
    I wanna take a big bite of it..
    But my unpleasant wisdom tooth has been causing troubles…
    I can only look at all the crunchy things and keep my mouth shut…
    Good thing there’s panna cotta on the side!

  • Tenina

    You have been tagged my friend…visit my latest post to figure it out…kinda fun, if not a little time consuming!

  • Adam

    Nice job all around Zen Man. The tuile look wonderful, and I really dig the cranberry compote. You took simple cranberries and turned them rockstar style :)

  • Kirstin

    I’m thinking that because the pancotta looks like an egg yolk, I could eat this for breakfast and not worry about overloading my sugar count for the day. Can you do this with lunch too?

  • Jan

    LOL at everyone having to send peanuts! Bet you all had a great time.
    We want pictures – we want pictures!!

  • glamah16

    I hope Peter behaved and dressed appropiatlty.He’s great! Loving your Panna Cotta.

  • Chicopea

    a brunch with no pics? shame on you zen! We don’t even know what you had to drink and I doubt it was just water 😉

    You did redeem yourself a bit with this panna cotta. kudos-kudos!

  • peter

    These look wonderful. I made pumpkin panna cotta for Thanksgiving last year- maybe I’ll try these this time around.

  • Peter M

    Zee Zen Chef, it was my pleasure to meet you and the other NYC area bloggers during my stay there.

    Nothing better than breaking bread with friends and laughing over some good wine.

    I will be formerly logging a protest with Amnesty International as the feta served to me during my kidnapping was Bulgarian and the olives from a jar…some kind of poor Jerry Lewis joke? lol

  • Heather

    That panna cotta looks like an egg yolk. That’d be a cool dessert too – you could have a coconut cream for the “white”.

  • Emily

    What a perfect dessert for autumn! You rock. 😀

  • Clumbsy Cookie

    Your pannacotta looks like a bubbie! That’s why you made it, wasn’t it? Just kidding, it’s a wonderful dessert!

  • Manger La Ville

    I was noticing your ramekins that you put the panna cottas in. I was wondering where you get them. I love the shape.

  • cakewardrobe

    Have a lovely Thanksgiving Zen! Your earlier post is triggering my craves for ravioli! I have so much on my plate that your images (now mine) will be torturing me until I can actually make them. XOXO

  • Swans Samplings

    Wow, looks so detailed and delicious!

  • Cakespy

    OMG! I have always wanted to see tuile-making in action. This is awesome…and it looks like it came together so deliciously. Daaaaamn.