• Cauliflower "Panna Cotta" With Beluga Caviar

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    • 3 x oysters (or possibly 1/4 c. oyster juice)
    • 1/2 lb cauliflower with stems trimmed cut large florets
    • 2 Tbsp. butter
    • 1 c. whipping cream Coarse salt to taste
    • 1 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin divided Freshly-grnd black pepper to taste
    • 1 ounce Beluga caviar - (to 2)


    1. Oyster juice is used for the layer of jelly covering the "panna cotta." To make it, shuck the oysters and carefully reserve any juices from them. Strain the juice through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl and add in the oysters. Pour 1/4 c. of water over the oysters and chill them, covered, for several hrs or possibly overnight.
    2. Cut the florets of cauliflower vertically through the stems into 1/2-inch slices. Spread the cauliflower proportionately in a 3 1/2-qt saucepan and add in the butter and 1 1/2 c. of water or possibly sufficient water to come just to the top of the vegetables (they shouldn't be submerged).
    3. Simmer over medium heat till the liquid is reduced by about half and the vegetables are fairly tender, 20 to 25 min. Add in the cream and simmer to reduce the cream and completely cook the cauliflower, another 30 min. The contents of the saucepan should measure 2 c..
    4. Blend the cauliflower and cooking liquid in a food processor till completely smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer or possibly a chinois. There should be about 1 1/2 c. of the puree. Add in salt to taste.
    5. Sprinkle 1 tsp. of gelatin over 1 Tbsp. of cool water; stir and let soften, 1 to 2 min. Hot half the cauliflower puree over medium-low heat till it barely simmers. Stir in the softened gelatin till dissolved, about 2 min. Stir in the remaining puree.
    6. Spoon about 2 Tbsp. of the "panna cotta" into the bottom of each small serving bowl and chill for at least an hour to set. This can be done several hrs ahead.
    7. Remove the oysters (throw away them) and strain the juice. You will need 1/4 c. of oyster juice.
    8. Place the remaining 1/2 tsp. of gelatin and 2 tsp. of water in a small metal bowl set over a pan of warm water. Stir constantly to dissolve the gelatin. Remove the bowl from the heat and add in the oyster juice. Stir again to be sure which the gelatin and juice are completely combined. Add in about 3 grinds of pepper.
    9. Place the jelly in the refrigerator and stir occasionally till it has thickened to the viscosity of salad oil and the bits of pepper are suspended in the liquid, about 1 hour.
    10. Coat the tops of the chilled "panna cotta" with 1 tsp. of the jelly, rotating the bowls to ensure an even coating. Return to the refrigerator to set, 30 min.
    11. Before serving, garnish the top of each "panna cotta" with a "quenelle" of caviar: Lightly drag the edge of a tsp. across the caviar, collecting it in a smooth shape resembling a football. This may take some practice to get right. If it's too much trouble, no one will complain about a simple 1-tsp. mound of caviar.
    12. This recipe yields 12 servings.

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