Have you ever gotten stuck in a mental groove? It goes something like this : green, green, green, I want something green! Don't know why, don't know what, but gotta be GREEN!! I've near exhausted pandan and have tired of green tea this, that and the other. Pistachios - now those, I don't use much. They're not cheap and shelling them, unless you're going to immediately pop them  straight into your mouth, is a pain. So pistachio would be my green, and I would theme it on the Arabian Nights, another of my many obsessions, and as it happens, a fitting one, as pistachios originated from the Middle East.

 rose petals courtesy of my dwarf rose bush...

Now, I've also had panna cotta on my mind for quite a while. My first taste of it, on board a flight, did not impress. It was pandan flavoured, which I love. I quickly realised that was its only virtue. It was green, flavourless except for the cloying sweetness of sugar, very generously used, and was as tender and tremulous (the proper texture I was told) as a pencil eraser. Served me right for thinking anything eaten on a commercial flight could do anything but dissapoint. So, I never got around to making it or eating it again.

shelled by my amazing nut cracker - Mum  ;)

Yesterday I decided I would make panna cotta, and it would be better than the sorry specimen that had been my first taste of it. Whom else should a less-than-intrepid panna cotta virgin *wink* turn to for guidance, but baking and dessert maestro David Lebovitz? I stumbled on the recipe last year and marvelled at its flawless texture and pearl-like sheen. The stingy amount of gelatin in the recipe immediately inspired confidence - this panna cotta would be nothing if not tremulous! I decided right then that if ever I made panna cotta, this would be the way I'd go.

I scaled it down, made some substitutions and additions and the result was probably a panna cotta/pistachio lover's wet dream come true. As the first mouthful spread its loveliness over my tongue, I imagined angels, deigning to lift a spoon of this heavenly delight to their celestial mouths... and coming back for more *sigh* Plainly put, it was good; tender, tremulous, creamy, rich, but not ovewhelming, with a beautiful tang from the yoghurt and a subtle but intriguing, salty bite from the pistachios. All the flavours were beautifully balanced, with none taking centre stage or being left in the shadows.

childhood dreams are made of this - my favourite rose syrup, loaded with artificial crap, but oh-so-good! 

If you never try a single recipe from my site, please, please try this one. It's so easy and so very, dreamily.. good. I'm so proud of this; even if David Lebovitz provided the framework, I dare say I put my mark firmly on it. And, while angels might refuse it, I'm pretty sure Scheherezade gladly would have accepted..

Prep 15 mins     Cook 5 mins     Makes 4 med (coffee cups) or 6 small (espresso cups)

200 ml(1 teacup) plain unsweetened yoghurt (full fat or low fat - I used full fat)
200 ml(1 teacup) single (light) or double (heavy) cream - I used light
80 g (about 1/2 teacup) fine sugar
2 1/2 level tsp gelatin powder
3 Tbsp cold water
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional) - I used it because the smell of gelatin freaks me out
70 gm (3/4 teacup) toasted, shelled and skinned pistachios, ground to a fine meal
About a tablespoon rose syrup per serving
A small amount extra pistachios, broken, for garnishing
Fresh rose petals for garnishing (optional) - ensure they're pesticide free


Combine yoghurt, cream and sugar in a small pot and heat on the stove, stirring with a whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture is smooth. Do not boil mixture but make sure it's very hot.

While yoghurt and cream heat up, put the 3 tablespoons of water in a heatproof mixing bowl and sprinkle the gelation powder over. Leave to soak for a few minutes.

When yoghurt mixture is very hot and sugar has dissolved remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour this while still very warm, over the gelatin mixture, stirring with a whisk all the time.

Stir in the ground pistachios and set aside. Lightly brush the insides of your cups or moulds with a neutral tasting and smelling oil like soy or canola. Do not skip this step. I did and broke two of my panna cottas when trying to unmold them :(

Divide the still warm mixture equally amongst your cups/moulds. Let them cool then refrigerate for at least 2 hours, 3 is better. Resist the temptation to keep checking to see if they set - it will only take longer this way!

When ready to serve, gently insert the blade of a small, flat knife between the edge of each panna cotta and its mould. Gently loosen over your serving plate or bowl. It should plop out quite easily . Ensure they don't drop out of their moulds too high from the plate or bowl as this may break them (experience talking again).

Spoon or drizzle over the rose syrup and sprinkle with broken pistachios. Add a few rose petals and serve quickly as they start to soften very quickly and may even begin to melt before your eyes, on a warm day.