Rice Pudding

23 Jul

with a raspberry curd rippleRice pudding. At its best, its a quietly satisfying indulgence, clean, smooth, delicious. There are so many different ways to make rice pudding, and I probably have tried them all. Its one of the things I make when friends are feeling poorly, or when I am cooking for someone who is very ill and needs to get their weight and stamina up. Rice is food of the Goddesses. If, like me, you have that Asian gene in you, life is incomplete without rice almost every day. I crave rice when I havent had it in a while, and I eat it every which way. I love all the different kinds of rice – black, red, brown, arborio, jasmine, basmati… Pulut, nasi lemak, risotto, fried rice, buttered rice, plain rice with a touch of sambal and some soy sauce, rice with a fried egg on top, dripping golden yellow yolk into the pristine whiteness. I can eat rice in a myriad of ways, and one of the things I love about it is its just so good for you.

Rice pudding is a very friendly food. You dont have to make it fancy for it to be received with great pleasure and its incredibly easy for invalids to consume. And, if you want to dress it up and put on dancing shoes, it can take a dollop of raspberry curd, as in the photo, or some shavings of chocolate, or even be bulked up with smooth pumpkin – and suddenly, a new and delicious dish. Oh, rice pudding, how I love you, let me count the ways…

I know there are people who like to bake their rice pudding, but Im not too hot on the skin that develops. But then, in life, there are skin people and no skin people, so figure out who you are. I like a smooth, satiny white rice pudding. You can only achieve this by cooking very slowly over the stovetop, at an incredibly low heat. It takes 45 minutes – 1 hour, but most of that time, you just leave it alone. If you are cooking for someone who is ill, or who is struggling to get enough nutrients, you can beat in a few eggs right at the end to enrich the pudding. You could also add more cream, some yogurt, use all full-fat milk. You get the idea – bulk it up with fats and nutrients which will go relatively unnoticed in the consumption of the dish. A little sprinkle of nutmeg, or cinnamon, or both, also add depth of flavour.

I have to admit though, I am a purist. Rice, milk and a bit of cream, vanilla, sugar, and sometimes a touch of butter at the end. Eaten warm or cold, this is one of my favourite comfort dishes. Its like a pillow of softness, the rice melding in and flavouring the milk, and vice versa. Happy happy belly.

For about  3 cups of rice pudding (enough to serve 6 people or 4 very greedy ones), you will need:

  • 1 cup rice (any one you want, though note that brown, black, red rices do tend to take longer to cook because they are more natural. I borrowed a cup of rice from MamaLila, my upstairs neighbour, not sure but I think it was basmati she gave me, and it was goooood)
  • 5 cups of milk, divided into 4 cups + 1 cup – you can use any kind of milk you like. Try coconut, almond or soy milk. I try and use a mix of 2% and lowfat, and a dollop of cream. I have also been successful in adding buttermilk and sour cream, in small amounts to the mix. Try and get some whole or half and half in if you are cooking for someone who needs the extra fats and nutrients. All skim milk is not really that successful to be honest.
  • 1 vanilla pod, split, with the seeds scraped out, or 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 3 tbsp (or to taste) light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp (or more) butter

In a medium saucepan, over extremely low heat, combine rice, 4 cups of milk, vanilla pod and beans (or vanilla essence), and 3 tbsp light brown sugar. Give it all a stir and leave it there for 45 minutes or so, stirring every 15 minutes to ensure that the rice doesnt stick to the bottom of the pan. You want this to cook at a very very low simmer – no boiling, but more like tiny little bubbles plopping to the surface. The rice will plump up and absorb the milk, but this process will seem as if it is never going to truly happen – it will, and it is, just trust the rice.

After about 45 minutes, you should have rice thats almost al dente. Use your instincts. I usually put in all of the final cup of milk, because I dont mind rice pudding that is quite soft, but if you think it doesnt need it all, use half or less. Taste for sweetness, and add more sugar if you think it needs it. Continue cooking at a very slow simmer for another 10 – 15 minutes until almost all the milk is absorbed. Dont take it off when its too dry – as it cools, the milk, which is now full of the starch of the rice, will become much thicker and richer.

Stir in a teaspoon or so of butter, if you like (if you are vegan, obviously, leave this out!), and let cool. You can serve it warm or cold from the fridge (which is the way I like it), snowy and soft and comforting. Add a dollop of curd or jam for colour and flavour if you like, or go purist and enjoy it in all its pristine beauty.

And enjoy how much those you love, love this!

Rice pudding!

2 Responses to “Rice Pudding”

  1. goddessmoments July 23, 2010 at 11:42 am #

    Now I’m hungry all over again!! And I just INHALED the most divine raspberry tart too!! TOTALLY DELECTABLE!! Thank you Pia for your generosity and talent XOX

    • delectableblog July 23, 2010 at 12:46 pm #

      I am glad you liked it Goddess! Makes me very the happy 🙂 AND my house smells of thyme and herbs and clean 🙂 Thank YOU 🙂

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