Friends - they are so vital, wonderful and important in life. There are many different types of friends and we all categorize them in separate boxes. In German these categories are defined by using two words: "bekannte" is used to describe friends that are more acquaintances. "Freund" is the word that really describes a proper friend. To the point!
But what is a proper friend?
Friends are very important for me. I am a friendly person by nature and often want to hug the world around me. Unfortunately, I have had a few "bad" friendships that have made me weary. I also learned valuable lessons in friendship from my German friends. You see, one often hears the Germans are cool and not too friendly. It's true - but only in the beginning. I have learned that they are careful. Unlike me - they do not want to hug the world straight away. Living here has taught me to be cautious and also to evaluate the people around me more critically.
What is the essence of a friendship?
It was back in 2003 when we moved to Weimar. Soeren had just turned 1 (and a few months) and I decided to join a baby club for the sole purpose of making new friends for both of us. In that same group I met AK. Her daughter was the same age as Soeren and they had also recently moved to Weimar. So, we had a common bond that we shared. Both of us were careful at first but if you get to know AK you will know that you cannot but help to like her.
We are opposites in many ways. I am a boisterous and energetic type of person, AK is calm and gentle. I speak my mind and go with my heart, AK speaks her mind but goes with her brain. I forget to call, AK always keeps in touch.
We complement each other in so many aspects of our lives. If I am gung-ho about something she will hold me back and make me look at the critical side of it. If she does not dare, I take her by the hand and accompany her the extra mile. She never judges me, my ideas or my feelings and always has a compliment on hand to make me feel good.
On a typical afternoon she will invite me to her place so the kids can play and we can chat. When we arrive she'll have a pot of her warming flavored teas in the teapot, a candle burning on the kitchen table. She will tell me to take my shoes off and relax. Being with AK is like a little oasis away from the hectic and stress. Even when the kids are screaming and shouting around us - her gentle attitude relaxes me from the first instant.
She is a physiotherapist by profession, which always seems to come to my advantage. Whenever she realizes I am a bit down or under the weather, she'll be over to give me a massage. She was there for me and Soeren when Tom was away for 8 months in 2004 doing research in Dubai, she is there for me when I worry about the new job and she is there for me when we just want to party.
How do you thank a person like that?
Well I decided to thank her in my way, by dedicating this post to her. You see I think AK and I are a lot like this dessert. If the bold colored saffron is me, AK is the cardamom that adds the delicate and finishing touch. The saffron brightens the way the dessert looks, but without the aromatic cardamom the dessert just would not be complete.
To you AK for your friendship.
Saffron and Cardamom Panna Cotta
(adapted from Pure Desserts by Alice Medrich)
Printable version of recipe here.
3 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
5 cardamom pods
1/4 teaspoon saffron strands - crushed
1 cup whole milk
2 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
Finely chopped pistachio nuts - optional
Heat the cream, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan until steaming hot. Stir from time to time to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat, add the cardamom and saffron, then covered allow to steep for 25 minutes.
In the meantime pour the milk into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Set aside - do not stir - for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the gelatin to soften.
Add the milk-gelatin mixture to the cream mixture and reheat to steaming, stirring well to dissolve the gelatin.
Place a metal bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice and water. Strain the mixture into the metal bowl and stir frequently, until it cools and starts to thicken. Check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer - the mixture should cool down to 10 degrees C (50 F).
Divide the mixture evenly between six 6 ounce ramekins and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for 12 hours, preferably overnight.
To serve: Either in the individual dishes or unmolded onto a plate. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios and a few saffron strands.
Tip: You can substitute 3 leaves of sheet gelatin for the granulated gelatin. Soak the leaves in the cold milk to soften them, then take them out from the milk and stir them into the hot cream - after the steeping process. Stir until completely dissolved. Stir in the milk and proceed as directed.
A sensational dessert pairing the flavors and aromas of two outstanding spices. Both complementing each other in such positive harmony that it leaves you wanting more. The spices infused in the milk add a wonderful note to the rich creaminess of the cream and milk mixture. In the original version of this recipe Medrich also uses cinnamon, grated on top of the finished panna cotta. I however, left this out as I wanted the flavors of the saffron and cardamom to play the major role. If you like them - the pistachios add a perfect crunch to pull the whole dessert together.
Friendship made in heaven I would say!
You might enjoy these great pairs:
|Chocolate Caramel Tart|
It's International Women's Day tomorrow and you can bet I am celebrating. My yellow dish is for a a great woman and friend - AK. Zorra and Fiordisale have asked us all to take part in their great event to mark this day by creating a yellow dish.
All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First