Looking outside at the miserable weather, the pouring rain and the black clouds, all I really want to do is jump on a plane and head back to Mykonos. I had such a relaxing trip the weather, the beaches, the company, all of it was wonderful and it was exactly what I needed. The island has a bit of a repuatation as a party destination, a Greek Ibiza if you will but we went a little off season so were able to avoid the large crowds and just enjoy the beautiful island and the wonderful weather. I had never been to Greece before but it lived up to its reputation, the people were friendly and the hospitality was brilliant. We stayed in a little hotel on the south of the island, away from the main town giving us a welcome sense of isolation (although we could be in the main town in 15 minutes). Waking up to these views every morning is deinfitely something I would be happy becoming used to, I just need to figure out how to open a bakery in Greece!
The one thing I didnt come away with however was lots of brilliant restaurants to recommend, its not that we ate badly but nothing really blew me away. All the suggestions I was given before the trip were for rather expensive high end restaurants but I wasnt really in the mood for that, I wanted local tavernas, simpler food. Thankfully I have a nose for a sweet treat and I did come away with a few ideas and inspirations for my baking, of which im sure i’ll talk about more later. For this post I wanted to try and recreate the wonderful gelato we had in the harbour of Mykonos Town at a place called Gelarte. It was flavoured with pistachio, mastic and rose. All familiar flavours except the mastic, a plant resin that is popular in Greek cuisine. It can be chewed like gum or as seemed more common turned into a liqueur. Its quite hard to describe the flavour, wikipedia says it is ‘bitter and slightly piney’ which sounds awful but I think its a really interesting taste which seems to enhance the pistachio flavour. If you want to make this recipe as is then you can by Mastic Liqueur or Mastic Gum from Greek supermarkets or online, otherwise you can make the recipe with just the pistachio and have a perfectly good gelato.
Pistachio, Mastic and Rose Gelato
150g raw shelled pistachios
550ml milk (whole or semi-skimmed)
200ml double cream
150g sugar, divided
pinch of flaked sea salt
2 tbsp mastic liqueur
1 tbsp rose syrup
Preheat the oven to 180C. Place the pistachios on a baking tray and place in the preheated oven. Toast the nuts for about 5 minutes or until fragrant. Allow to cool and then finely chop.
Place the pistachios, milk, cream, half the sugar and salt into a large saucepan and set over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and then remove from the heat and cover and allow the mixture to infuse for 30mins to an hour, the milk should have clearly taste of pistachios. Pour the mixture through a fine strainer and discard the pistachios.
Place the milk mixture back in the pan and set over medium heat and bring to the boil. Meanwhile place the egg yolks into a medium bowl along with the sugar and whisk together until pale. When the milk has come to temperature pour about half over the eggs and whisk to combine. Pour this mixture back into the pan and stir constantly until the custard has thickened, enough so that it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Pour the custard into a bowl set over an ice bath and stir regularly until the custard has cooled to room temperature (depending on your preference you may want to add a little green colouring). Press a piece of clingfilm onto the surface of the custard and refrigerate for a few hours of preferably overnight. Churn in an ice cream machine according the manufactures instructions. To serve I like to top with a little extra rose syrup and some chopped pistachios.