Summer Cool Down: Ann Kirk's Buttermilk Panna Cotta

Photo Courtesy Little Dom's

There are many reasons to love West Hollywood's Dominick's and Little Dom's in Los Feliz: chef Brandon Boudet's homey, often seasonal American and Italian menus; straightforward, hand-crafted cocktails; those Sunday and Monday $15 dinners (with $12 bottles of house wine); and the effortless come-as-you-are vibe that draws a great crowd night after night.

Of course, anyone would be remiss not to order dessert at either restaurant. The comforting cakes, gelato and fruit tarts from pastry chef Ann Kirk are reason enough to go.

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Kirk has been a sweet tooth for as long she can remember, from days in the kitchen with her mom to her travels in Italy. She worked with chefs at Lucques, La Terza and Literati 2 before taking over pastry duties for Dominick's, Little Dom's and 101 Coffee Shop, so it's no surprise her desserts veer towards rustic, highlighting the best of what's in season.

It's the simplicity that we enjoy most. Her panna cotta is one of the best in town, whether it's flavored (choocolate), served in a jar (you can get it to go at The Deli at Little Dom's), or simply topped with fresh fruit. Right now, we're pretty partial to the buttermilk panna cotta topped with moscato granita at Little Dom's; it's creamy and cool, just sweet enough, and the perfect vehicle for a little fresh fruit.

"Peaches and berries are at the height of season and prove to be the perfect accompaniment to the light, creamy, and slightly tangy buttermilk panna cotta," says Kirk. "And the moscato d'asti has peach notes that pair well, and as a granita it adds a refreshing, icy cold crunch."

She calls it a dressed up version of the classic "peaches 'n cream." We call it delicious. Here's the recipe:

Little Dom's Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Granita and Fruit
Recipe adapted from Ann Kirk
Makes about 6 servings

Panna Cotta
2 tablespoons cold water
1 ½ teaspoon gelatin
1 ¼ cup heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
1 ¾ cup buttermilk

1. In a small glass or metal bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let it soften. Meanwhile, in a small pot, combine the heavy cream and sugar and bring to a boil. As soon as it comes to a boil, remove from heat.

2. Place the bowl of gelatin over pot of hot water until it liquefies. Remove from heat and add to cream mixture, whisking well to combine. Whisk in the buttermilk. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve, and pour about 1/2 cup into cups or molds.

Moscato Granita + Fruit

1 cup moscato d'Asti (Kirk recommends Sori del Re, Moscato d'Asti)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
4 teaspoons cold water
1 peach, thinly sliced
1 cup mixed berries (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries)

In a metal bowl (or container, but a metal bowl will help it freeze faster), combine the moscato, sugar and water and whisk well. Put bowl or container in freezer. Once frozen, "shave" the granite using the tines of a fork.

In a small bowl, combine the peach slices, berries and sugar. Let macerate for a few minutes. To serve: Unmold the panna cotta onto a cold plate, top with a spoonful of granita, and serve fruit on the side.

About the Author

Los Angeles-based freelance food writer.
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