reimagining comfort food: rice pudding 2016 edition

rice puddingWhen it comes to winter we think of comfort food. But sometimes some of the comfort food we remember seems better suited to the nursery. So how do we take something like rice pudding and grow it up?

I love rice pudding and that’s what I decided to do today: change it up every so slightly.  What I am experimenting with is soaking raisins in a couple tablespoons of orange juice, cinnamon, and approximately 2 to 3 tablespoons of whiskey left over from Christmas cakes that didn’t turn out so well.

I didn’t use leftover rice this time I cooked some fresh with cinnamon and cardamom.

Guess what? It’s yummy!

Rice Pudding

Preheat oven to 350°

5 eggs

scant 1/3 teaspoon of salt for pudding liquid

3 3/4 cups milk

2 teaspoons Mexican vanilla extract (so much better than the American variety)

2 cups of cook riced (1 cup dry rice cooked with 1 1/4 teaspoons cardamom and 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of salt)

1/2 to 3/4 cups white organic or turbinado sugar

1 cup of mixed yellow and black raisins soaked in 3 tablespoons whiskey 2 tablespoons of orange juice and a dash of each cinnamon and nutmeg. (I soaked these about 3 hours before making pudding.)

Cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom to taste (pudding liquid)

Lemon or orange zest (optional)

First butter a largish casserole baking dish and place in a Ban Marie (a/k/a large pan filled halfway with hot tap water)

Then beat the eggs in your mixing bowl. Add the vanilla, sugar, salt and mix until frothy. Beat in milk. Add dashes of cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg.

Set aside.

Put spice scented rice in bottom of  casserole baking dish.

Spoon raisins over rice.

If you want to zest some lemon or orange do so now.

Pour pudding liquid (eggs/milk/sugar) over everything else in casserole baking dish.

Put in oven in Bain Marie for 1 hour and check for doneness – or when the knife comes out clean.

Today my pudding took a total of 90 minutes to cook right.

When doneness is achieved remove from over and Bain Marie and cool to room temperature. Serve at room temperature.

Refrigerate leftovers.

Enjoy!

pudding 101

This morning the breeze has started the fall rustle of leaves.  Don’t know how else to describe it.

Fall means the start of comfort food season.  What people don’t realize is there is something to be said for the basics.  Basics include foods we grew up with, comfort foods.

Last night I made an old-fashioned pot roast.  Mine is different because I use a little lemon or orange peel in mine and toss in a small can of crushed tomatoes and wine along with a few kinds of mushrooms (fresh not those rubberized canned things). To make a perfect pot roast you need a heavy dutch oven large enough to comfortably cook your roast and you must dredge the meat in flour and brown up a little before putting in a low and slow oven and ignoring for a few hours.

What I made the other day also falls into the category of old-fashioned comfort food: rice pudding.  I never wrote my recipe down before, so I hope the proportions are right.

Here it is:

Start with turning on the oven to 350 degrees to pre-heat. Next grab some unsalted butter  for greasing baking dish

 Ingredients

3/4 cup white sweet rice cooked and cooled (sweet rice is an extra sticky rice used in Asian cooking and you can buy it at an international grocery or specialty foods store)

3 cups whole milk (you can also use the canned Carnation milk you use to make pumpkin pie)

1 cup fat-free half and half

1 cup light cream

6 egg yolks

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup white sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground mace

1/2 teaspoon ground green cardamom

1/2 cup shredded coconut

3/4 cup white raisins

Directions

Grease well a  round baking dish (I use  Pyrex 2 or 2 1/2 quart baking dish – not sure which one – it has a lid which makes for handy storage of leftovers)

Into the bottom of the baking dish first add rice. Smooth out evenly on bottom. Sprinkle raisins evenly on top.  Sprinkle coconut on top of that. Set aside

Combine egg yolks, vanilla and salt in a bowl. Add sugar.  Beat until sugar is dissolved, incorporated, not grainy on the bottom of the bowl

Add  cornstarch, lemon zest, spices.

Slowly add milk, half and half and light cream.  Beat until frothy . Pour over rice/raisins/coconut in round baking dish.

Take your round baking dish and place in a Bain Marie – a Bain Marie is literally a water bath.

I take a larger rectangular pan, place my round baking dish inside it, and then pour hot water inside the rectangular pan AROUND the baking dish (DO NOT get the water into your rice pudding mixture)

Bake until the rice pudding is no longer liquid – at least an hour.  When I made a few days ago, my oven may not have been properly pre-heated and it took about an hour and 20 minutes to cook.  Your baked pudding will be caramel and brown colored on top when cooked and a knife inserted will come out clean. You just have to watch it.

Take pudding out of oven and place baking dish on a trivet to cool.  I like serving the pudding still slightly warm.  Some people like putting whipped cream on top to dress up the pudding when serving.  I do not – I think it is overkill.  You can have fun with this dessert and serve in red wine or martini glasses (wide rim).

Pudding variations include:

  • You can tweak recipe and remove just the rice and add a can of DRAINED cream corn to make a sweet corn pudding.
  • You can also substitute cubed day old brioche and make a bread pudding.  You can omit the cardamom and mace and raisins and coconut and add chocolate chips and it becomes a chocolate chip bread pudding.

Puddings are fun.