FOOD: Will cook for smiles |

FOOD: Will cook for smiles

Lee Mathis
Free Press Food Columnist
Lee Mathis
Staff Photo |

Brunella’s Panna Cotta

Panna cotta is a rich dessert and a small portion goes a long way. I like this dessert because it can be made days ahead of time (as long as you cover it well and refrigerate it, you can make it up to a week ahead of when you need it), and you can come up with a infinite variety of flavor combinations. My favorite to make is Panna Cotta with cherry liquor. It has a very mild cherry flavor that can be paired with different sauces from simple fresh berries to a complex cherries and port sauce which is what I like to use.

2 cups of heavy cream

1/3 cup of sugar

3 gelatine leaves

3 Tbsp. of cherry liquor

Soften the gelatine in cold water for a couple of minutes. Place all the ingredients in a saucepan, including the gelatine drained of the water. Heat gently stirring constantly until all of the gelatine is dissolved. Remove from heat and pour in prepared molds (you can use just about anything as a mold, small containers for individual servings or larger pans for family-style service, just remember to use a little butter to grease the molds unless you are using silicone molds). Cool down for at least 3 hours or until the panna cotta has firmed up. To serve, unmold and served with sauce or fresh berries.

Of note: If you use powder gelatine, you need to experiment with it to reach the same consistency as the gelatine leaves. Refer to the package to get an idea of how much you may need for 2 and 1/3 cups of liquid.

You can replace the cherry liquor with another liquor (orange for instance), or chocolate sauce, or fruit puree, or leave it out altogether and not flavor the cream at all.

The amount of time it may require to firm up will vary on the size of the mold you are using, the gelatine you are using and the flavoring if any. To be safe, you should make the panna cotta at least the day before you need it.

Hope you’ll try it, and if you want to use the leaf gelatine you can buy it at the Bistro for $.20 per leaf.

Recipe from:

Over the years, we have had the opportunity to cook for a wide variety of people — calf ropers out at the fairgrounds; traveling dignitaries from the Dept. of Energy; many, many weddings and parties; corporate events; bridal showers; etc. And during these past eight years, I have had many occasions to sit down and talk with many other cooks and chefs and I’ve come to the general consensus of why we do what we do… And it ain’t the money!

Personally, if I had stayed in the newspaper sales business, I could have made a lot more money than I have these past years and I am sure that my fellow culinary designers could have done the same.

Continuously rising food costs, items that have always been in stock now not being there, training new people, the recession. And do not get me started on trying to keep a gourmet dessert business afloat when people are struggling just to make ends meet, and the list goes on.

So, if it is not the money, what is it that drives most, if not all of the people in our industry, well, at least the ones I respect? For me, it’s the look on people’s faces when they take their first bite!

There are precious few that actually make a lot of money in our field and you see most of them on the Food Network, but even there, it seems that they have to start hawking their own brand of cookware, their own brand of knives, I have even seen custom squeeze bottles and, yes, even dog food.

But locally, I have had the pleasure to meet a lot of cooks and chefs that think the way that I do — Theo & Brenda from 626 on Rood, Josh from Bin 707 Foodbar, Chefs Jon St. Peter and Wayne Smith from the Culinary Program at WCCC/Colorado Mesa University, Sheli and Sid from the Incubator, Brunella at Il Bistro Italiano and many more that I do not have the space to list. We are in the business to make the customers smile! That’s why do what we do… and ya know what… it ain’t a bad life!


This one is from our friends at Recipes from local chefs all over the country, ya gotta check this out! The “Recipe of the Week” is from our own local Il Bistro Italiano.

Lee is the founder and owner of Decadence Gourmet Cheesecakes and Catering. He can be reached via email at, on the web at, or by calling 970-256-4688. Also, find him on the web by searching Facebook, Pinterest or by visiting Twitter (@decadenceGJ).

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