When Carole told me she was coming, she asked if there was a cooking school close to where I lived. “Mom wants to send us to cooking school,” she wrote.
My sister took care of my mother every day in very trying conditions. When mom died there was a small inheritance and I insisted that Carole take my share as well. She did the job I couldn’t have done and it was the right thing for me to do. She saved some of that money so mom could send us to cooking school. Isn’t that clever? We had the BEST day.
We’ve got several cooking schools in our area but there are a few top ones that I’ve been dying to go to. Last year at the Real Food Festival I watched chef Cameron Matthews cook and I was mesmerized. He took that food to a different level after showing us all how to trim a full sirloin and cut it into steaks. He says it’s much cheaper to do that then buy steak by the piece and you get better beef.
Cameron is the executive chef at The Long Apron Restaurant and Cooking School at the Spicers Clovelly Estate in Montville in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast. He’s a talented chef, he’s immensely funny and he’s very serious about using top quality local food. He’s also not impressed by food bloggers who are celebrities with no food training at all. I love it when people tell us honestly how they feel, especially when they explain their reasoning.
He said chefs with years of experience who’ve done all the hard work to learn their craft, be inventive and consistent get an ordinary payday after working really long hours. Along comes a blogger who goes on one of the cooking shows and becomes an instant success earning squillions of dollars – and it hurts. ‘They don’t have to learn traditional techniques, food safety, kitchen management or anything else and they’re stars while those of us who’ve really put the work in go virtually unrecognised.’
When he said it like that and seeing all his fantastic food, I could understand the frustration he felt.
The class was all Italian and the first thing we made was panna cotta. I’d eaten it before but I’d never made it. It’s very easy to make and only a few ingredients are required. I followed the directions but I didn’t cool the mixture long enough before pouring it in the moulds. That’s why you see the vanilla seeds on the top. If you chill the panna cotta before pouring it into the moulds, the seeds will stay in suspension.
Whatever – it was fantastic! I gave John a bite from my first fail. I unmoulded two of them too soon and they collapsed. He thought the panna cotta was “all right.” All right means really good. That’s the best it gets around here.
Then for dessert I gave him another (fully set) and when he was finished he said, “Do we have any more?” He ate another! Remember, John doesn’t like dessert but this panna cotta isn’t too sweet, very vanilla-ey, perfectly wibbly wobbly (technical term) and the texture reminds me of something you’d make for the gods. Seriously. It’s creamier than cream. If that’s possible.
Cameron told us to buy plastic dariole moulds because they’re easier to squeeze and unmould. You have to order them from a restaurant supply company and mine haven’t arrived. I wanted something red white and blue for the 4th of July so I used rice measuring cups and some small plastic storage containers. My mother always told me, “Make do or do without,” and these made do.
This photo was taken by our friend Martin Duncan at the Noosa Food and Wine Festival “drinks after the show”. Yes, Cameron is that tall and yes, I’m that short. I can’t remember what I was laughing so hard about but it wasn’t that the beer was resting on my head!
- 330 ml milk
- 470 ml cream
- 120 grams icing sugar (confectioners sugar)
- 3 sheets of gelatine, bloomed
- 2 vanilla beans (or you could use vanilla bean paste)
- Lightly brush dariole moulds with an unflavoured oil.
- Soak gelatine sheets in a bowl of ice water until soft.
- Split and scrape vanilla beans into the milk and heat to warm, 80C / 175F
- Take off heat and let the beans infuse into the milk for 30 minutes.
- Remove beans and stir in sugar.
- Squeeze gelatine sheets and add to milk and stir well.
- Add cream and stir mixture over ice until cool so vanilla seeds stay in suspension rather than falling to the bottom (like mine did)
- When mixture begins to set up, pour into oiled dariole moulds and place in refrigerator for several hours.
- To unmould, lightly press the side of the panna cotta and it will come away from the side of the mould. Turn it out onto a serving dish.
- Garnish with fruit, coulis or anything else you like.
Carole left this morning, leaving behind her granddaughter’s violin. All sorted and it’s on its way to the states too. I felt a bit sad all day for the 4th of July so I made this red white and blue panna cotta to remind me of where I come from even though it’s an Italian dessert and my heritage is French. heh
Joanne T Ferguson says
G’day Maureen, HOW special, true!
Sharing this cooking class thanks to mum with Carole too!
I miss the July 4th celebrations when I lived in the USA…
Other “unexpected” memories happen each year on the day!
Looks to be Best Panna Cotta Recipe Ever…
Glad that you and Carole could spend your priceless, special time…nothing would have been better..
Thanks, Joanne. I remember the silly parades with dogs dressed up and kids wearing costumes and the old fire trucks and people waving flags. Then it was the watermelon and the seed spitting contests. Maybe I’m just really old. 🙂
Fran @ G'day Souffle' says
Isn’t it wonderful having a custard-like dessert that doesn’t require eggs? I’m glad you had the courage to show us the collapsed panna cotta so that we can learn what can ‘go wrong’.
the final ones looked great, Fran but there are dangers in plopping them out too early 🙂
Happy 4th of July! Love this beautiful and delicious looking dessert. I would love to go to cooking school.. you’re sister is a lovely lady. 🙂
I kinda like the vanilla seeds on the top! They are making the panna cotta look lovely. I am bookmarking this recipe coz it looks beautiful and sounds delicious. Thanks for sharing.
It’s a fantastic and easy recipe to follow.
Lisa the Gourmet Wog says
Your opening paragraph gave me goosebumps, how precious and priceless. What a lovely gift 🙂
It was such a wonderful day. The weather was perfect, the setting was gorgeous and the food… holy cow, the food was out of this world. Wait for the next recipes from our Italian cooking class 🙂
What a fun idea to go to a cooking school, and perfect bonding time with family! Panna cotta is pretty freakin’ awesome:-) This recipe looks like a true winner, and the berries all tucked around the dessert look beyond delicious! Yum, Hugs, Terra
I love panna cotta and this one looks great! I haven’t made it in years and this post has inspired me. Love the red, white, and blue for 4th of July. Have a great holiday!
Hey Bill, lovely to see you. Not many of us celebrating 4th of July in Southeast Queensland Australia but there will be some! 🙂
Denise Browning@From Brazil To You says
What a beautiful panna cotta — so full of vanilla bean. I so wish it was me that was digging my spoon in it. Happy 4th of July, Maureen!!!
What a great thing to go to cooking school with your sister! So nice. And this panna cotta is so nice, too. This is one of those things we rarely make – just don’t think to. And I don’t know why we don’t, because we know how great it is, and it’s been on my to-make list for the blog forever! Yours looks great, and so festive. Happy 4th, and thanks for another fun post.
You must try this, John. Seriously. I wouldn’t tell you if it wasn’t so. 🙂
These photos are awesome! I have always wanted to go to cooking school. Your panna cotta still looks great even though it collapsed a bit. This is one of those desserts that intimidates me, but I would love to try and make it because it looks scrumptious.
Only the first ones collapsed.. the ones that were fully set (although still wibbly wobbly) were perfect 🙂
This looks so yummy and perfect for the 4th of July!
Lovely post to commemorate the 4th of July, happy 4th my friend 😀
This dessert looks heavenly!
Choc Chip Uru
Fran @ G'day Souffle' says
Isn’t it great to have a custard-like dessert that doesn’t require any eggs! I’m glad you had the courage to let us see your collapsed panna cotta moulds so we can be aware of potential hazards!
What a neat gift…I’m sure you’ll think of your dear mother every time you make panna cotta. And that has got to be the loveliest version I’ve ever seen…all decked out for th 4th of July, too! xo
it was a perfect day and one I’ll never forget
What a gorgeous cooking school!!
It was great fun! If you ever have a cooking class, I’m coming!! 🙂 I’ll rent out the dog or sell my car or something!
Neat tip on chilling the panna cotta before pouring it into moulds so that the vanilla beans stay suspended! He sure is tall..
He sure is but all that tallness holds heaps of culinary information 🙂
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
I so enjoyed our meal at The Long Apron and how fabulous that they do cooking classes too! And John is just like my husband. “It’s ok” is code for awesome 🙂
You should arrange for them to invite you to a class, Lorraine. It’s the best day!
Anne ~ Uni Homemaker says
Wow, I can’t take my eyes of it. Looks amazing and I love that specs of vanilla beans on top. Looks absolutely scrumptious Maureen!
Hotly Spiced says
You and your sister sound like you have a terrific relationship. I’ve made pannacotta but in metal moulds and yes, it’s always nerve-wracking wondering if they are going to come out! I’ll take his advice and get some plastic ones. Sorry you have been sad this Fourth of July. You understandably must be feeling a long way from home. I disagree however that bloggers just pop out of no where and become celebrities stealing the limelight from those who deserve it more. In every industry there are those who strive and work hard and are very competent at what they do but yhey make a modest living. Then there are a few who pop out of no where having not done the hard yards and seemingly have less talent yet they are famous and making a fortune. Just look at who’s on screen and those in the music industry. This phenomenon is not exclusive to chefs and bloggers – it’s just life xx
Lizzy (Good Things) says
What a very special day at the cooking school… I bet your mom was looking down and smiling! I like the sound of wibbley wobbley panna cotta… a favourite dessert at our place (as a treat). Love the image of you with Cameron.!
InTolerant Chef says
I’m glad you and your sister could have such a great day together, and the pannacotta is delicious however it looks! I know what Cameron means, every person who’s had 2 seconds on MKR or MasterChef suddenly has a celebrity cooking class or cookbook deal, and they have no experience at all. It is certainly frustrating at times!
First, let me say what beautiful pictures you have taken!!. Looked like such a great class. The picture of you with a beer on your head makes me want to hear your infectious laugh, and slap that naughty boy for doing that to you! Panna cotta was on my dessert menu always when I worked as a chef because it is just that…so simple but so good. I could eat as many as John for sure. I have to agree with Charlie, these days anyone can shoot to fame anytime , its the luck of the draw. I am sure some of those bloggers have worked hard too.
David Crichton says
Thanks for sharing the good and bad of panna cottas. I love the idea of them, but always end up disappointed with them. Probably because they are too set, and I’d just prefer some interesting ice cream. I think the secret, as shown, is to have them just set. So maybe one or two my collapse, the perfect result will be we’ll worth it though.
Claire @ Claire K Creations says
Oh Maureen he makes you look like a midget 🙂
What a wonderful idea of your sisters and a special day.
I would have given John a run for his money eating these!
What a great way to celebrate the 4th……..cooking, eating, and love. I learned more about your family from this story than any stories you have shared thus far. What a loving generous family you all are.
Wish I could have been there to have a taste of that Panna Cotta.
Bam's Kitchen says
Happy 4th of July weekend to you and your family. Cooking school is a fantastic way to enjoy your holiday and a delicious panna cotta. I love how I can see all the specks from the vanilla. I tried to make panna cotta once, it tasted fantastic but I never could unmold it properly so ended up just serving it in the cup. The flipping over part is the scary part. Wishing you a super weekend. Take Care, BAM
Gorgeous vanilla panna cotta, Maureen. I never bother letting cool outside the fridge before pouring into molds and refrigerating and my last panna cotta had a nice layer of crunchy vanilla beans on the bottom. I also served it in a tall glass so I didn’t have to worry about turning it out. Still tasted great.
My favourite version also has some raspberries embedded in it. 🙂
Judy @Savoring Today says
Thanks for telling us about your lovely day with your sister, it made me miss mine, yet remember many lovely days with them. These are good times to cherish. As he explains it, it is understandable how Chef Matthews feels, I’m sure anyone who has poured so much of themselves into something must wrestle with the ease of success others have without the same sacrifice and investment. Sometimes personality wins out over substance. Such is life.
Your panna cotta looks so creamy and refreshing ~ love the summer berries with it. 🙂
Barbara | Creative Culinary says
First it was so pleasing to hear of your acknowledging your sister during a difficult time; so often siblings take on a whole new personality when it comes to those things and do not to anything close to the ‘right’ thing.
Second…what a VERY lovely thing for your sister to do and what a fun, fun, FUN one too. I feel for the chef too; when we can look at those shows and know folks with just mediocre talent have made it big…I never once stopped to think about how trained, talented and experienced chefs must feel.
Fair warning shorty? I am 6′ tall; we EVER find a way to meet, it will be Mutt and Jeff all over again. 🙂
wok with ray says
I can’t get over the look of that panna cotta. It looks so delicious and beautiful. That is great and fun idea going to cooking school with your sister! Have a wonderful weekend, Maureen! 🙂
What a wonderful thing to do with the inheritance! I am glad you are having fun with your sister.
suzanne Perazzini says
This dessert looks beautiful and very apt for the 4th of July. You are a very lovely lady, giving your inheritance to your sister. It often happens in families that one sibling does all the looking after for a parent and gets no recognition for it by the other siblings.
I think Cameron shouldn’t worry so much about us bloggers. For every one who makes a name for themselves through their (often) very hard work, there are tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands who just plough on day after day because it is a hard-working hobby. Chefs also get to shine and there are many celebrity chefs who perhaps are no better than Cameron. There are writers who are quite poor at the actual craft of writing but happen upon the right combination of storyline and marketing with a dollop of luck, who make millions while more deserving writers live in poverty. That is the way of the world in all fields and you get bitter if you think about it too much.
I am glad you had a lovely day out cooking with your sister and I understand your sadness at her leaving. It’s never easy.
He was talking about tv celebrities and fluff bloggers who think they know it all. He loves good food bloggers and knows every restaurant, cooking school and product supplier needs us. I mentioned it because I do understand how hard chefs work and the hours they put in. He’s definitely not a bitter man. He’s got the best sense of humour around, is full of jokes and witty repartee and seems like an extremely happy man. Most chefs don’t get much more recognition than most bloggers. Cameron is very well known in Australian cuisine – definitely at the top of his game.
I don’t think I was lovely regarding my mother. We had a tentative relationship all my life and Carole did what I couldn’t have done. 🙂
suzanne Perazzini says
Good to hear, Maureen. After watching a few of those cooking programmes based on actual chefs, I have no doubt that they work long and hard hours for their profession. He sounds like an amazing guy.
Family relationships are so complex!
I know just what you mean
A Canadian Foodie says
People say this is easy to make – but it has never been easy for me. Success still eludes me… but, I will try again. It is, after all, summer here – and the season for this cold velvety cream!
it was simple for me. 3 gelatine sheets, powdered sugar, milk, cream and vanilla. yum.
Maureen, what a lovely gesture from you to your sister and then again from her to you. And what a great way for the two of you to spend some time together. It’s difficult when one sibling is left with all the work and another is too far away to feel very useful. I am in the former position and my sister is in the latter.
It’s a tough situation. Carole did all the work when my mother was really mean. She was quite ill and said and did some creepy things and Carole went to mom’s place every day and just took it because it was the right thing to do. Even if I’d been there I don’t think I could have taken the abuse. My mother said mean things to me all my life and when I got older I wouldn’t take it any more, so I don’t think I could have done what Carole did because of the memories. I owe her a lot and what she got wasn’t anywhere near what she deserved. That said… we had a ball at the cooking school and would happily go every day if we could. 🙂
Details, details! Yes, it’s Italian and you’re French. So, what? The colors were red, white, and blue and that’s all that counts. It is every bit a legitimate 4th of July dessert. And a good one, at that. Panna cotta really is simple to make but oh so very good! Never thought to use plastic molds, though. I need to source them. What a great idea!
Amy Tong says
This panna cotta looks wonderful. It says a lot for a non-dessert person to have two in one sitting. 🙂 I can’t wait to give this a try.
Hi Amy, thanks for coming by. Nice to meet you. We ate the last two today and John ate half of mine. 🙂
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
What a fun experience for you to share with your sister! I love vanilla beans; your panna cotta looks scrumptious!
The Ninja Baker says
What a wonderful celebration of life to share a cooking class with your sister.
Looks like you learned how to make a very stellar panna cotta, indeed.
The setting for your class looks pretty spectacular, too!
Kari @ bite-sized thoughts says
What a fun experience – such a nice idea. This panna cotta looks extremely professional so I’d say the cooking lessons worked!
He is a very good teacher 🙂
Iron Chef Shellie says
LOL! That photo is hilarious!!
and what a lovely gesture <3
What a very sweet way to tell Carole “thank you”! It was equally as sweet of her to spend some of it on cooking school! Looks like you definitely made the most of it. Panna cotta is such a fabulous dessert but I’ve never made it so thanks for sharing this recipe and for all of the helpful hints!
Just like me! I’d eaten it but thought it would be too difficult to get the perfect wibbley wobbley effect
What a lovely way to spend a day with your sister. I’ve always thought there was magic involved with panna cotta but obviously not thank you for sharing the tips.
Shema George says
This recipe looks and sounds the BEST – Bookmarking it! Thanks for sharing 🙂 Loved your snap with the beer on your head – loved your smile in it !!
I think it’s great that you and your sister went to cooking school together. What a great memory that must have created for the both of you. I made panna cotta once and I was instantly in love – lol!
You are so right, Eileen, it was a day we’ll remember for a long time.
Krissie (Pearls of Style) says
Oh I’ve been looking for a great panna cotta recipe Maureen and I trust that yours would be amazing! It looks devine, I’ll definitely be giving this a go.
Krissie Pearls of Style
Hi Krissie! You MUST make this panna cotta.. seriously, you’ll thank me. 🙂
@ChristineSalins (FoodWineTravel) says
Definitely going to try this one, Maureen! I’ve stayed at Clovelly Spicers Estate – had a wonderful meal there but didn’t get to attend a cooking class unfortunately.
You should go back. You’ve enjoyed Cameron’s cooking but his personality really shines in the cooking school. 🙂
Oh good lord I LOVE that photo of the two of you! Brilliant! And mmmm I love panna cotta and it is my husband’s favorite dessert. I actually made it the first time after my husband had a pretty lousy, floury one in a restaurant and I swore I would make him a good one. It is really easy to make and I love it. Yours is perfect! I have also been wondering about molds…
I had a brilliant day
Mary Frances says
Looks heavenly – must be for the gods! How sweet and thoughtful of Carol to do that for you.
it was a day we’ll both remember for a long time.
I would love to make the “best panna cotta ever”…why waste time on second best! Could you please tell me if you used gold leaf gelatine or titanium? It will make a huge difference if I use the wrong one.
Thanks so much,
I used titanium. I hope it works well for you!
Thank you so much, I will look forward to making it.
Hi Angela! I hope you’ll let us know how it goes!
Hi Angela, what did you think of the finished product??
Thinking of making this for a party…
Your cooking looks amazing, Maureen. I wish I could be a chef like you one day 🙂 Thank you for sharing all those beautiful and delicious looking recipe…..
Can I use powdered gelatins? Can I also use vanilla essence?
This recipe calls for gelatine sheets. There are lots of recipes for powdered gelatin. I haven’t tried this recipe with powdered so I don’t now. Vanilla essence is okay.
Wendy Clark says
Can I find gelatin sheets in the US? I saw Panna Cotta made on TV last night and thought it looks so tasty. I know our grocers have packets of dry gelatin.
I had a quick look and found some on Ebay in the US. Try cooking shops either in person or online. You’ll find them.
Donna B says
I’ve made a variety of Panna Cotta recipes including with coconut milk and Greek yoghurt because of my lactose intolerance. This is the smoothest, creamiest and best so far, I believe because it uses real cream (I used lactose free) and possibly because of the gelatine sheets. I’ve only used powder before. I did have to heat the milk slightly again to melt the sheets. I used vanilla bean paste and didn’t get the problem with vanilla seeds not suspending even though I didn’t have time to let the mixture cool again before pouring into containers. I was intrigued by the addition of icing powder to this recipe. I sifted the lumps out first. Is this necessary in your experience? I have mostly used honey sweetener and am keen to try this recipe again with it and compare. Onwards goes the search for my perfect panna cotta recipe but this one is certainly up there. Thanks so much for sharing, Maureen.
Tony Gin says
Just found this site and tried this recipe it worked out great. (Although I had to heat up the milk again slightly to dissolve the gelatin) Many thanks for sharing. I realised you have romertopf stuff too so I may try some of your other recipes. I get good sourdough results using my romertopf .