New Zealand is the land of Milk and  [Manuka] honey, in my opinion. The milk and dairy here are the best I have ever had. This shoot was inspired by the milk and my new kitten Sparkles, who is as white as the milk.  My favourite way to enjoy milk is a pairing of milk, vanilla and cream – Panna Cotta. Translated it means ‘cooked cream’ in Italian. It originated in Northern Italy, it is the ultimate milk pudding. The original recipe only used cream, but I prefer this lighter version with whole milk and cream. This was also the first time our new kitten, Sparkles had milk as a small treat. Just like humans, cats can be lactose intolerant, but she showed no signs of an upset tummy, I guess we are in the clear. It will however be an occasional treat, just like Panna Cotta, for those very special occasions.

Vanilla Panna Cotta – makes 6 small ramekins or two larger moulds

Ingredients:

1 & 1/2 cups whole/full cream milk

1 & 1/2 cups cream

3 teaspoons powdered gelatin

1 & 1/3 cups fine sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract / vanilla from 1 bean

Method:

Pour the milk into a saucepan and sprinkle the gelatine over the top. Let the gelatine dissolve for about 5 minutes, the milk skin will look wrinkly. Gently warm the milk on a medium stove setting, whisking regularly. Do not let the milk boil or even simmer. The gelatine should dissolve completely, test this by rubbing some milk between your fingers, there should be no grainy bits. Stir in the sugar and let it dissolve, keeping an eye on the heat level. When the sugar is dissolved remove the saucepan from the heat and add the cream and vanilla while whisking. Pour into lightly oiled moulds or ramekins. Refrigerate for 4-5 hours or overnight. To un-mould the panna cotta, place the mould top side up in a bowl of hot water, almost up to the rim, for a few seconds. Use a thin knife to loosen the top edge of the panna cotta. Place the serving plate on the mould and invert, shake it gently to help it along.

My glass moulds look like cow udders- totally unplanned but it supports the milk theme! Serve without a fancy sauce, it is so good on its own! I would recommend refrigerating the panna cotta over night in their moulds. A really good vanilla extract or vanilla from a pod, is so important as this dessert only has 4 key ingredients – Milk, cream, vanilla and sugar.

Buon Appetito!