I have found heaven in a jar: truffle caviar called Perlage di Tartufo. It was just one of the delicacies I picked up at this weekend’s Epicure Imports sale. The ‘caviar’ is made in Spain using the molecular gastronomy process developed by Ferran Adria of spherification. Tiny beads of truffle juice are made to look like caviar and they have a similar mouth feel to roe, but aren’t fish eggs. Best of all they are a lot cheaper at around $30 a jar, available from Chef Shop. The flavor is pure black truffle with a briny undertone. As you pop the lid off this little jar the aroma is what gets you excited. We are talking aphrodisiac, sex in a jar – BIG turn on. I could eat this straight from the jar with my finger! Oh boy is it good – pure decadence as the tiny beads pop open on your tongue and release even more of their truffle flavor.
A little goes a long way and we shall be topping our boiled eggs with the caviar for extra special eggs on Easter morning.
We are big fans of soft boiled eggs with soldiers in our house – I like to cook the eggs for just under 5 minutes to make sure the white is cooked but the yolk is still runny. Topped with a little truffle caviar is a mixing of two perfect worlds – or maybe that’s three – eggs, caviar and truffles.
Minty was intrigued when I presented her with this today. She loves truffles and will have them on pizza and pasta or in scrambled eggs but she wasn’t convinced that there weren’t fish eggs on her soft boiled egg. A few tiny pearls of black goodness were all that were left on her egg at the end of breakfast so I presume this is another gourmet treat to add to her long list of likes.
Cooking from The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden for the Mother Forkers I decided to mix things up a little and think outside the box. I mean we couldn’t have a dinner dedicated to the wonders of Spanish cuisine without giving a nod to el Bulli now could we?
In for a penny, in for a pound – I decided to use the most expensive spice in the world and one that appears a lot in Spanish cooking: Saffron. My quest for making the perfect panna cotta continues. I adapted Amanda Hesser’s simple easy panna cotta recipe from her New York Times Cookbook, reduced the sugar, increased the salt a tad and infused the cream with the all important Spanish saffron and then topped each little individual serving off with a dollop of the caviar.The saffron imparted not only the delicate flavor but all a beautiful yellow to the panna cotta. The savory nature of the truffle caviar was a perfect juxtaposition to the rich creamy panna cotta.
Saffron Panna Cotta with Truffle Caviar
Adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century by Amanda Hesser
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
Generous pinch of Spanish saffron
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cold water
1 envelope powdered gelatin
1 2/3 cups buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 jar truffle caviar, Perlage di Tartufo
1. In a medium saucepan heat the cream, saffron and sugar over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
2. Meanwhile in a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let it bloom for 5 minutes.
3. Stir the bloomed gelatin into the warm saffron cream until dissolved.
4. Stir in the buttermilk and salt. Remove from the heat.
5. Pour the mixture into a jug through a sieve, to remove the saffron. Fill 12 mini votive glasses. Refrigerate and let set for at least 2 hours.
6. To unmold glasses, let sit in a bowl of hot water for 2 minutes and then turnout onto a plate. The panna cotta should easily slide out – if it doesn’t return to the hot water for 30 more seconds. I prefer to serve the panna cotta straight from the votive glasses.
7. Let panna cotta stand at room temperature for 1 hour before serving and then top with 1/2 teaspoon of the truffle caviar and serve.