Panna Cotta is a fabulously easy Italian dessert. The name means 'cooked cream', and it's just cream with some sugar melted into it and set with gelatine. It's perfect for when you have guests because you can just make it ahead of time and forget about it till you're ready.
Soak the gelatine sheets in cold water. Split open the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds. Put the vanilla seeds and pod into a saucepan with the cream and sugar. Heat until the sugar has melted, but do not boil. Squeeze the excess water from the gelatine sheets and add them to the cream mixture.
Prepare 4 ramekins or other small dishes by smearing butter over the inside. When the gelatine is fully dissolved in the cream, remove the vanilla pod and pour a quarter of the mixture into each container. Refrigerate for at least two hours until the panna cotta is set.