Vegan Panna cotta - Guest Post by Olive Irons!!

My friend Olive is a really talented cook and I desperately wanted her to do a guest post for everyone to share her food wisdom and oh boy did she not disappoint! I am so excited to try this recipe, it looks seriously heavenly and exactly what this blog needs at the minute, i.e. a kick up the backside, lol. It's been so hard trying to fit in blogging around my schedule at present and this post has been an absolute  Godsend, so thankyou Olive. I'll just quickly tell you a wee bit about the creator of this super recipe. Olive works at Leiths, which is a very prestigious cookery school in London so you are in very safe hands my friends - this girl knows what she's talking about. I was so pleased when she agreed to create a delicious vegan dish for y'all and I told her to not even reveal it to me until it was good to go, so I only discovered what it was an hour or so ago, hehe. Not only did she take time out of her own busy schedule to make and test the recipe (several times I'm told because she wanted to make uber sure it would work in your kitchens - how nice is that?) but she also took some seriously beautiful photos.

Without further ado then, here is Olive's recipe for that spectacular Vegan Panna cotta. Bon appetit!

Hi everyone, I'm Olive, Aine's friend. I'm not a vegan, and I don't have much experience with vegan food so this has been quite a challenge for me and of course I've had a few disasters along the way!  Aine and I have spent a lot of happy times cooking together and I was really happy when she asked me to write a guest recipe for her blog.  This recipe has been around the houses a bit, I started off using coconut milk but the texture was not very pleasant - I wanted to really try and get a nice luxurious smooth and creamy texture, even with double straining and sieving the coconut just didn't cut the mustard so I was very pleased when I discovered the soya cream! Three versions later I think I have cracked it - smooth and creamy but not set too firm, you still want a nice amount of wobble.  This recipe will easily double if you've got more for dinner and will work with many different fruits depending on what is in season or what you have in your fridge!
Vegan 'Pannacotta with poached autumn fruits'
Makes 2.
You can either make this in moulds and turn them out into bowls, or you could set it into pretty glasses and serve with the fruit arranged on top.
For the panna cotta:
1 cup soya cream - I used sojade single cream.
1 cup water.
2 heaped teaspoons agar agar flakes.
4 tablespoons of caster sugar.
1 vanilla pod split lengthways.
2 teaspoons vanilla extract.
Put the water, agar agar and vanilla pod in a pan over a low heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer for around 8-10 minutes until all of the agar has dissolved, add the sugar and stir to dissolve.
Remove from the heat and stir in the soya cream and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.  Using a very fine sieve strain the mixture into your chosen moulds and refrigerate for at least 5 hours, ideally overnight.
If you have made them in moulds then the easiest way to turn them out is to run a knife around the edge, put your plate or dish on top of the mould and carefully turn it over.  Give it a few gentle shakes and it should come out nice and easily.  I wouldn't turn them out more than half an hour before you're going to serve them, and be sure to keep them in the fridge until you're ready to eat.
Poached fruits:
I've used conference pears and blackberries as they're in abundance at the moment but you could use anything you like, just check out what is in season and what looks delicious.  Some of my favourites are peaches and raspberries, rhubarb, spiced citrus fruits or blackcurrants.
2 large ripe pears.
125g blackberries.
200g caster sugar.
400ml water.
1 vanilla pod.
Put the water, sugar and vanilla pod in a pan over a medium heat.
Carefully peel the pears, cut into quarters and cut put the core, put them straight into the pan.  Bring to the boil and turn right down. Cover with a disc of baking parchment to stop the pears from discolouring.
Poach for about 20-30 minutes or until they are tender.  Remove from the pan.
Carefully drop the blackberries into the poaching liquid and leave poach for five minutes.  Remove from the liquid and serve!
dessert, veganAine Carlin