Honey has always seemed magical to me. Its color, texture and origin is a homage to the wonders of nature. The new book Taste of Honey, written by renowned food author Marie Simmons and photographed by Meg Smith, pays tribute to the hardworking honey bee with a glossary of 40 varieties of honey and more than 60 delicious recipes. It beautifully explains the intimate life of a bee, how its habitat influences the color and flavor of honey and how to best pair the different flavors with certain ingredients.
A lifelong honey lover and bee aficionado, Marie also reminds us of the real threat of Colony Collapse Disorder, a phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive suddenly disappear. Its linked directly to the use of pesticides in agriculture and is currently threatening bees and the pollination of the world’s agriculture.
For June’s In Good Company, we’re celebrating summer, friendship and bees with Marie’s yummy recipe for panna cotta. Thank you to Marie for sharing her recipe and to Meg for her luminous photographs. With summer in full bloom, honey is a precious lesson in how hard work, persistence and living in harmony can produce something so delicate and delicious. I hope you enjoy this recipe!
From A Taste of Honey written by Marie Simmons and photographed by Meg Smith.
Honey Panna Cotta
Makes 4 to 6 servings
At a favorite Italian restaurant, I was once served a delicately set panna cotta spooned onto a large plate. A departure from the typical pudding cup serving, this is how I’ve been serving this simple dessert ever since. If preferred, the panna cotta can be made in individual pudding dishes or ramekins. However, I like the spooned version because it allows a large surface for a drizzle of honey to cascade in narrow rivulets down the sides of the pudding.
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
2 cinnamon sticks
1 strip orange zest
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup honey, plus more for serving
Honey-Sweetened Fruit for serving (see recipe below)
1. Place the half-and-half, cream, cloves, cinnamon sticks and orange zest in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-low, stirring constantly, until small bubbles appear around the edges. Cover and let stand off the heat for 15 minutes.
2. Place 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl or cup and sprinkle the gelatin evenly on the surface. Let stand for about 5 minutes, or until softened.
3. Lift the solids (spices and zest) from the warm cream mixture with a slotted spoon. Add the honey and softened gelatin to the cream mixture and stir gently until the gelatin is dissolved.
4. Pour into a shallow bowl, cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours, until set. For a delicate texture, serve panna cotta the same day. As it stands the texture will stiffen slightly.
5. To serve, place a large spoon of panna cotta on a dessert plate and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of honey. Surround with sliced peaches, strawberries or Honey-Sweetened Fruit (see recipe below).
Combine 1 to 2 cups of sliced strawberries; a mixture of sliced strawberries, blueberries and raspberries; or peeled and sliced ripe peaches or nectarines with 1 tablespoon of honey. Gently fold to blend and let stand at room temperature until ready to serve.
All photographs by Meg Smith ©2013. Click here to learn more about Taste of Honey or to purchase the book.