Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Best Panna Cotta Ever (according to my boyfriend...)

I love panna cotta. Not only because I love any desserts involving milk, I also love it because it's so quick and easy to make and always looks impressive.

This one I made has a blueberry coulis on top (since they were in season at the time) but any tart fruit goes great with the sweet smoothness of the cream.

If you don't have to worry about calories and want a really rich and creamy panna cotta you can substitute some or all of the half-and-half for heavy cream.

Panna Cotta with Berry Coulis

Panna Cotta:
4 cups (1l) half-and-half
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

2 packets powdered gelatin (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
6 tablespoons (90ml) cold water

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (or any kind of berries you like)
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ cup sugar
2 tsp cornstarch

 Warm the half-and-half and sugar in a saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly and make sure the cream doesn't boil (this is very important). Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Lightly oil eight 5oz. custard cups with a neutral-tasting oil (or you can just put them in a pretty serving bowl like I did and not have to worry about unmolding them later). Put the cold water in a medium bowl and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over it. Let stand 5-10 minutes. Pour the warm cream over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Divide the Panna Cotta mixture into the prepared cups and let cool. Once cool chill in the refrigerator until firm (about 2 hours).

 The coulis should be prepared right before serving the Panna Cotta, the warm sauce goes really nicely with the cold cream. Place the blueberries, lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. I like to add a tablespoon of water to help the process but this isn't necessary. When the sugar dissolves completely, taste the sauce and decide if it needs more sugar. I like mine to be more tart so I put less sugar. Make a slurry by stirring the cornstarch into 2 teaspoons of water then add it slowly to the simmering coulis, stirring to thicken.

 Run a sharp knife around the edge of each Panna Cotta and unmold each onto a serving plate, and top with a serving of the warm coulis.

Panna cotta recipe adapted from: David Lebovitz

Thursday, September 23, 2010

VivaTerra - Repurposed and Recycled Materials to Green Up Your Home

I'm so smitten with the online store VivaTerra. They sell all types of stuff for the home from dinnerware to garden furniture to cute accents. Most of their things are reused or recycled and some things are even hand-made by artisans. Really cool and really gorgeous. 

The downside: a bit expensive for my modest means.

Photo credits: VivaTerra

Monday, September 20, 2010

Eye Candy - Bunny Butt

I don't even need to comment on this one. It speaks for itself.

Prepare yourself for the cutest bunny butt ever.

Found via: Andrea Harner

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wooden Radios

Lately I've been fascinated with vintage-looking wooden radios. I think they're the perfect mix of modern and clean design with a touch of retro. Plus, one will go great in my Scandinavian beach house that I will have someday ;)

Here are my favorites:

Clockwise from top left: Magno Large $300 | Magno Medium $250 | Magno Small $200 | Magno Micro $150

These wooden radios from Areaware are totally different than anything I've seen around. They have a very vintage feel with those big wooden knobs and the felt. I also like the cute wooden tip on the antenna. The Magno Small and bigger are mp3 compatible.

Left to right: Model One in Cherry/Silver $150 | Model Three in Cherry/Metallic Taupe $300

Of course I had to include the radios from Tivoli Audio. They're simple and beautiful, and like the Areaware Magno, a bit pricey. All their hi-fi radios are mp3 friendly.

Crosley Audiophile Radios
 Clockwise from top left: Tempo $100 | Dock Clock $100 | Solo $100 | Comet $100

Fortunately for us who are more conservative when it comes to spending, there are these super cool alternatives from Crosley. All their Audiophile radios are iPod/mp3 compatible.

 Sangean Hi-Fi Table-Top Wooden Radios
Top to bottom: WR-2 $126 (on Amazon) | WR-11 $82 (on Amazon)

These radios from Sangean are not as stylish as the other ones but they are worth a mention because they still look pretty nice and are full of features. Both are mp3 compatible.

Photo credits (from top to bottom): Areaware | Tivoli Audio | Crosley | Sangean

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fabric and Paper Birds

Just found yet another cool shop on Etsy. Cotton Bird Designs makes adorable little birds out of paper and fabric and also makes fabric flowers among other things. These sweet little things are supposed to be wedding cake toppers, but they are so cute I would just put them all over the house.

Photo Credits: Cotton Bird Designs
Etsy Shop: Cotton Bird Designs 
Found via: 100 Layer Cake

Friday, September 10, 2010

EKOKOOK Eco Kitchen

The Ekokook kitchen from Faltazi is just about the smartest and coolest thing I've seen as far as kitchens go. It's compact, environmentally responsible, and extremely practical.

The Ekokook has everything you need in a kitchen: a cooktop, a fridge, recycling bins, compost, dry storage, sink, water recycling, EVERYTHING for a healthy and eco conscious lifestyle. Best of all it takes up much less space than a traditional kitchen with all these things. The design cleverly separates the area into two parts, one side for food preparation and the other side for waste disposal, so you don't have to keep walking around space while doing something.

Overview of food preparation side

Alright, going over the cool points from left to right. In the cooking section you have a steam oven on the bottom, and on the counter you have a hot-plate, a wok, and a gas burner. On the top there's an extractor hood with room for cookbooks on top (I told you they have everything). Storage area is next with room for pots, pans and silverware on the bottom, a cutting board on the counter, and hanging storage for more pots and pans. More storage on top with a timer in front, and next to it are two ultraponics pots (for growing fresh herbs and stuff). Back on the bottom are the dry food storage bins and the cold storage all the way on the right. The cool thing about the Ekokook refrigerator is that it's totally compartmentalized so you only have to open a small door to an isolated compartment to get what you want, saving huge amounts of energy spent on refrigeration. Last on top is the dry storage for bulk items like grains and beans and seeds.

Now the waste-management side is the really amazing part. The Ekokook makes it easy to greatly reduce the amount of trash thrown out. It's crazy how much trash I generate when cooking.

Overview of waste processing side

So, left to right again. The solid waste micro-plant manages your recyclable materials and has a bin for everything else that's not recyclable, but the cool thing is the space saving abilities of this little kitchen. For glass bottles, you place them in the bin, where they are broken as they fall down. The paper compartment shreds then compacts the paper into blocks. Lastly aluminum cans and plastic bottles are crushed when going into the bin. The micro-plant for liquid wastes allows you to save water from washing vegetables into pitchers for watering your herbs in the ultraponic pots above or dispose of other waste water. The organic waste micro-plant is ingenious and I can't do it justice in a description, you have to watch the video. All the way on the right is the compartmentalized dishwasher which saves water and electricity.

Photo and video credits: Faltazi Ekokook
Found via: Inhabitat

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lugano, Switzerland

Church and cemetary in the community of Morcote, in Lugano, and the view of the lake after climbing like 209658213957 steps. No cars C:

View of the Lake of Lugano and the mountains from a hill atop the enclave of Campione d'Italia.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Caprino (Little Goat!)

Cute village of Caprino on the Lake of Lugano, in Switzerland, and a teeny frog! You can only get to the village by boat or by walking through the forest along the lake. It's so relaxing and quiet since there are no cars. The houses are really nice, they all have wine cellars on the bottom and the living area is on the second floor, and all have an amazing view of the lake.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Verzasca Valley, Switzerland

The Verzasca Dam is a stomach-churning 220 meters (722 ft.) high, I couldn't even get close to the edge! It was the same dam in Goldeneye that Bond bungee jumps off of. Brave tourists can do the jump. The Roman Bridge (Ponte dei Salti) in Lavertezzo and the beautiful Verzasca River.