Yogurt, Panna Cotta, Verrines and other cool creamy things are very appealing in these dog days of Summer. I wonder how many cool and savory applications we could come up with?
Cool, Creamy and Savory
In the pantheon of savory cool and creamy, there is, of course, Tzatziki. The Greek cucumber and yogurt dish which is similar to Indian Raita and as with raita, pairs well with savory meats or spicy stews or curries. And we now know we can make our own Greek-style yogurt at home for a song, The Secret to Homemade Greek-style Yogurt. (One reader at Suite insists I was referring to Turkish-style yogurt, but I'm only going by what I started with which was Greek-style yogurt I purchased in the store...)
Today an email from The Tasting Table - Culture Shock - Yogurt is the Beefcake of the Dairy World - got me going on this creamy, savory thing. There's a recipe in that TT link for a savory almond oil-infused yogurt served with charcuterie and a reference to a cold-smoked yogurt used as a panna cotta base served with tomato, watercress, cucumber salad with nigella seed dressing. By the way, you know panna cotta should wobble like a woman's breasts, right? Dulce de Leche Panna Cotta - yes, it wobbled properly.
Layering it On
There was also an NPR story on Verrines - Verrines a Glass Act - which describe various verrines. Essentially parfaits of yogurt and other items, verrines it turns out, can also be savory. I made yogurt parfaits for the family recently and served them again with brunch for friends. Here is a photo of my parfa -- um -- I mean Verrine:
So now I'm thinking of savory verrines for a summer lunch or a light dinner. Use a large jar and some cold poached chicken - you can even make it in a microwave -- layered with chickpeas, chopped cucumbers and curried savory yogurt. This could be a picnic lunch. Or do a seafood mousse and layer with shredded lettuce, summer tomatoes. Cold poached fish and some Greek style yogurt seasoned with Grapefruit bitters, top with watercress or chiffonade of greens, perhaps?
I'll bet a silken tofu could be buzzed up with other ingredients to make a dairy-free but creamy item that could be spooned into verrines.
At a recent tasting for The Bitter Truth aromatic bitters a group of food and wine writers got a lively and entertaining introduction to this artisanal product. The range of bitters produced by The Bitter Truth guys is astounding. I immediately began thinking of savory culinary applications. A celery bitters panna cotta as a base for a summery tomato dish? The Xocolatl Mole Bitters has a deep chocolate note which would make an interesting panna cotta with say, cold poached chicken.
Crème Fraîche is another creamy delight that is used in savory applications. It enriches sauces without breaking up, so you get the benefits of sour cream or yogurt without the risk of curdling. Blanquette de Veau and curries are both enriched and made velvety by the addition of Crème Fraîche at the end. A cool application could include a rich, velvety bitters-enhanced Crème Fraîche, layered with poached chicken or fish and vegetables.
Cool and Savory - but not Creamy
Why stop at creamy applications? When the mercury rises, classic aspics are another, non-dairy, cool to eat dish. Flavored and chilled gelatin, an aspic can contain many different items or almost none. A chilled tomato juice or tomato water aspic can be accompany savory grilled meats or they can envelope cool poached ones. Why not do grown-up Jello shots flavoring gelatin with bitters? Grapefruit bitters and vodka, celery bitters and tiny sweet 100 cherry tomato halves perhaps?