Remember a few weeks ago we were discussing where our inspiration for recipes comes from?
Often, Marianna is the one who provides this inspiration. This week she came to me with our aromatic sample of mastiha oil and a glass of water. She gently tilted the tiny bottle and a drop fell in the glass. Drink this, she said. What can we make? Maybe rice pudding? I like rice pudding, she said as she walked away, the smell of mastiha all around me.

I, too, love rice pudding. Especially variations of it. Yes, there is the classic one which we prepared last year.
But this week, things get more exciting.

As you may remember from our mastiha cookies, mastiha is an aromatic sap, coming only from the island of Chios in Greece (read more here!). For this recipe, we didn’t use mastiha oil, but instead, we combined mastiha and mastiha liqueur.

Traditionally, in order to use mastiha in baking you have to grind it. But not all of us have a pestle and mortal at home. And in this blog we believe that when we cook we need to make the best with what we’ve got. So you don’t have a pestle and mortal at home. You’ll use the mastiha as is. This recipe asks for slow cooking, so your mastiha will slowly melt and dissolve in the velvety milk. Just make sure you stir every so often. You know, you can always give more love.

Don’t be tempted to use more mastiha, your rice pudding will become bitter. We know so because let’s say that our first batch of rice pudding was not on the sweet side. Learn from our over-excitement.

Serves 2

50g Carolina rice (you need rice with high amylopectin -starch- content such as Arborio or other risotto rice)
50g white powdered sugar
600ml whole milk
one very small rock of mastiha
2 tablespoons of mastiha liqueur
raw pistachios (to serve)

Put all your ingredients in a medium sized pot. Stir and place over medium high heat. Once the milk reaches a near boiling point immediately turn down the heat (be careful not to let it overflow). Let it simmer, stirring every so often, so that mastiha dissolves and evenly offer its aroma to your rice pudding. Once the rice is soft and the mixture feels like porridge remove from the heat. Add the mastiha liqueur and stir. Serve with raw pistachios. Mastiha likes that.

 

 


We recently attended Radio 4’s Kitchen Cabinet recording where one of the foods discussed was rice pudding. In the UK rice pudding is oven baked and links to memories of childhood pasts. In Greece, it’s made in the hob and yes, links to memories of childhood pasts.

Rice pudding basically is made of three things: Rice. Sugar. Milk. But such ingredients scream for something else. Something subtle which will give the whole dish an exciting undertone, without it losing its comfort. Nor the link to a happier past.

What do we mean? When you make rice pudding try adding some subtle flavourings. This dish is the vessel for whatever you can think of. So in the recipe below, try adding a vanilla pod. Some lemon peel (find unwaxed lemons please). Maybe orange zest. A cinnamon stick.

This time, we used some lemon peel and sprinkled some cinnamon on top. Delicious.

The recipe below is by Greek pastry chef Stelios Parliaros.
Feeds 4

100g Carolina rice (you need rice with high amylopectin -starch- content such as Arborio or other risotto rice)
100g white sugar
1.2L whole milk
peel of one lemon (optional)

Place all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil stirring gently. Be very, very careful here. Don’t let your milk boil-turn down the heat in its lowest setting as soon as your milk is near boiling. Why? Well, it sounds obvious but the writer of this blog post, who made rice pudding four different times, at four different kitchens this last month managed to let the milk boil, overflowing the pot, making a mess in two kitchen stovetops. That’s 50% success. You don’t want that. Lower the heat and let your rice pudding simmer, stirring occasionally, until rice is soft and the milk has thickened.

Serve hot, cold or at room temperature- with cinnamon or whatever else you prefer.