Last week, Mom flew in all the way from Texas for an all-too-rare visit. Usually Dad comes too, but he stayed home this time. Although we missed him, this visit was just for the girls.
We had quite a week together, full of shopping, cooking, eating, and more shopping! We hit every store we could think of, some of them twice. It was a ball trying on dresses and shoes and snapping up great tableware bargains. Of course, for me, the best shopping trip was to the farmers market. I would rather squeeze the tomatoes than squeeze my feet into the trendiest shoes of the moment.
But the most fun we had together was in the kitchen. This time, we ate in more than we ate out, and we spent an entire day in the kitchen cooking our farmers market booty. Mom had never had rhubarb before, so I made a pretty dessert of Ginger Panna Cotta, Rhubarb Mousse & Rhubarb Gelée Verrines. I put her to work shaving asparagus into paper-thin slices with a vegetable peeler for a Shaved Asparagus Salad. She complained and complained that shaving asparagus was absurd, that I was enslaving her—Mom can be a quite drama queen that way, but all the asparagus was done within 15 minutes, and the salad turned out great. And just for the record, I’m never a drama queen like that. Never. I’m sure my husband would agree.
The only disappointing thing about Mom’s visit is that she couldn’t stay for Mother’s Day. It would have been really nice to celebrate her in person. Mom, I miss you already! Thanks for everything, Mom, thanks for being you, and may your Mother’s Day be as sweet as you are.
And here’s wishing a happy Mother’s Day to all moms!
Ginger Panna Cotta, Rhubarb Mousse & Rhubarb Gelée Verrines
1 ½ cups milk
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon gelatin
2 ½ cups heavy cream
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 tablespoons grated ginger
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound rhubarb, diced
2 ½ cups water
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean
8 sprigs mint, for serving
Measure ½ cup of the milk into a small bowl and slowly sprinkle over 2 ½ teaspoons of the gelatin. Combine the remaining 1 cup of milk, 1 ½ cups of the cream, ¼ cup of the sugar, and ginger in a small saucepan. Heat to a bare simmer. Whisk in the gelatin mixture and vanilla extract and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Chill over an ice bath until just beginning to thicken. Divide among 8 dessert cups. Refrigerate for about an hour, or until set.
Combine 2 cups of the water, the remaining 1 cup of sugar, rhubarb, and cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and add both the pod and the seeds to the pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, or until tender. Let cool slightly, discard the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean, and puree in a food mill using a fine disc. Let cool to room temperature and divide evenly among 2 large bowls.
Measure ¼ cup of the water into a small bowl and slowly sprinkle over 2 ½ teaspoons of the gelatin. Place the bowl of gelatin over a small pan of simmering water and heat until melted. Stir into ½ of the rhubarb puree. Whip the remaining 1 cup of cream to stiff peaks. Stir 1/3 of the cream into the rhubarb mixture, then fold in the remaining cream. Divide among the dessert cups. Refrigerate for about an hour, or until set.
Measure the remaining ¼ cup of water into a small bowl and slowly sprinkle over the remaining 2 teaspoons of gelatin. Place the bowl of gelatin over a small pan of simmering water and heat until melted. Stir into the remaining ½ of the rhubarb puree. Chill over an ice bath until just beginning to thicken. Divide among the dessert cups. Refrigerate for about an hour, or until set.
Top each with 1 of the mint sprigs and serve.
Makes 8 very generous servings. Can be made up to a day ahead of time and kept covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator. Also good topped with bits of candied ginger.
This verrine recipe evolved from another dessert I like to make—ginger panna cottas topped with rhubarb compote. To make it, simply prepare the ginger panna cotta layer as directed in the first step of the recipe. Cook the rhubarb as directed and let cool to room temperature, but don’t puree it. Top the ginger panna cottas with this rhubarb compote and serve.