TThis past week, I was in New Jersey to cook a couple of Greek dinners, one was in Montclair and the other was in Little Falls. The dinner in Little Falls was hosted by a company called Pecinka-Ferri - they provide restaurant equipment and solutions and they had invited their clients (folks who design and consult restaurants) as guests.
Joe Ferri, one of the partners allowed me a free reign in designing a Greek menu that would give his guests a delicious Greek feast. Today, I am featuring the dessert – something I have enjoyed in Greece and I wanted the guests to enjoy this refreshing and light dessert.
Panna Cotta is a traditional Italian dessert (meaning cooked cream) and here it gets a Greek twist with the additions of vanilla and mastiha. Mastiha is a resin that is harvested from a tree that only grows on the southern part of Chios. It comes in the form of little pebbles and locals like to call them “tears” as they drip off the trees and onto the ground.
This is a quick and delicious dessert and rather easy to prepare. I topped the panna cotta with sour cherry spoon sweet, something you can buy at Greek specialty stores or you can make my quick and easy version.
Panna Cotta With Greek Yogurt and Mastiha
1/4 cup cold water
1 envelope of unflavoured gelatin (or 2 1/4 tsp.)
1 cup of whipping cream
3-4 mastiha tears, ground with a bit of sugar in a mortar & pestle
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. of pure vanilla extract (or the seeds of half vanilla bean)
2 cups of Krinos sheep’s milk yogurt
sour cherry spoon sweet
- Add your water to a cup and sprinkle the gelatin into and stir in with a spoon, set aside. In a small pot, add the cream, mastiha, sugar and vanilla and bring up to a simmer. Take off the heat and allow vanilla and mastiha to steep in the cream for 30 minutes.
- Strain and reheat your cream to 110F and stir-in the gelatin until melted/incorporated.
- Add the yogurt to a medium-sized bowl and whisk until smooth. Whisk to blend yogurt and cream and pour equal amounts into glasses or 1/2 cup ramekins. Place in the fridge and allow to set for a minimum of 3 hours.
- If serving out of a glass, garnish with sour cherry spoon sweet. If using a ramekin, carefully run a butter knife around the edge to loosen and place a place on top. Hold the plate tightly over the ramekin and invert. Quickly jerk the panna cotta to loosen and unmold. Again, garnish with sour cherry spoon sweet.
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