Gale Gand

Garden Chef Recipes

Just in time for strawberry and rhubarb season, Gale Gand, executive pastry chef and partner of Tru in Chicago and Cenitare Restaurants in Wheeling, offers one of her favorite recipes using those two yummy fruits. An author of six cookbooks, Gale was named outstanding pastry chef by The James Beard Foundation.

Vanilla Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Strawberry Mash
or Rhubarb Compote

Makes 6–8 servings

Panna Cotta

1 ½ cups heavy cream

2 cups buttermilk

10 tablespoons sugar

½ vanilla bean, split

2 teaspoons gelatin

4 teaspoons cold water
Strawberry Mash

1 pint strawberries

2 tablespoons sugar
Rhubarb Compote

3 cups rhubarb cut in 1-inch segments

½ cup water

½ cup sugar

½ vanilla bean, split


In a saucepan, heat the cream, buttermilk, sugar, and vanilla bean together until boiling. Meanwhile, sponge the gelatin by slowly sprinkling it over cold water and let sit until all the moisture is absorbed. Stir the softened gelatin into the hot liquid and mix well. Pour into containers and chill. To serve, spread strawberry mash or rhubarb compote over the top surface of the panna cotta.

To make the strawberry mash, take a potato masher and smash the strawberries with the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Keep chilled.

To make a rhubarb compote, in a medium saucepan combine the rhubarb, water, sugar, and the vanilla bean and cook over medium heat until the rhubarb begins to soften and break down (about 5 minutes). Turn off the heat and allow it to cool.