Saturday, March 21, 2009

Milk & Rice

Rice pudding, ahhh... I love it. My Great Grandma Newman used to make an amazing rice pudding, I now know that it involves a whole lot of whole milk, instant rice, a giant bowl, and a really long time in the oven. I have to say that her pudding is different than any I've ever had since, baked rice pudding definitely has some different properties than stove top rice pudding. Really though, I like just about any rice pudding as long as it doesn't have plump, cooked raising laying about in it. I am even known to eat some Jell-o rice pudding if it crosses my path, which it can do, say, when you are babysitting at someone else's home. Of course it doesn't come close to competing with a real, good rice pudding. But it's still a rice pudding of sorts and I'll have it.

I won't elaborate more on Jell-o rice pudding, my time will be much better spent telling you about a wonderful rice pudding that I have made twice in the last two weeks. I am always trying new recipes of rice pudding. They usually are quite good, varying in different ways. Some call for eggs. Some don't. Some call for milk. Some call for cream. Some use Basmati, some use Jasmine. Molly Wizenberg wrote an article that was featured in the March issue of Bon Appetit and it was all about rice pudding. After reading the recipe, there were a couple things about it I liked about it right off the bat. I liked it's simplicity. Rice, water, cream, milk, sugar, salr, and a vanilla bean. I also liked that it calls for you to simmer and cook the rice in water for ten minutes until the water evaporates. This step seemed unique and something I haven't run into yet in all of my rice pudding endeavors.

Molly called for Basmati, which my pantry was out of, so I happily stepped out to the food co-op to get some rice from the bulk section. To my complete amazement and shock, the best thing happened while I was in the spice section. I was busy scooping out mustard seeds, cumin, and red pepper flakes when my eyes saw a container with long, dark vanilla beans it it. In all of my visits to the co-op over the years how could I not have known they sold vanilla beans in bulk??? I grabbed them quicker than a lightning strike and saw a little label on the side reading, $1.25 each. No. Can't be. Costco sells them three for twelve dollars. This is way too good to be true... So I ran up to the help desk to inquire, and sure enough, the price was right! This may sounds like the dorkiest thing ever, but I think that was the best news I've gotten since I heard that Obama won the presidency. So... I bought six. I even put a little section of vanilla bean in my morning coffee concoction every now and then. I'm getting crazy frivelous with my beans. I'm in vanilla heaven. Honestly. Isn't that amazing? Especially in these financially trying times? You just have to smile with glee when you come across such a little luxury as that. Okay, back to the pudding.

This rice pudding is perfection. It's so creamy and has such a lovely, milky taste. It's rich but not too much so. The pudding has a very pure quality because of the simple ingredient list. Then cooking the rice in water for awhile softens it up a an extra bit so that when you steep it in the milk for thirty minutes it just becomes so wonderfully tender and creamy. I love the sweet little vanilla seeds that are scattered throughout the pudding, sometimes, when you're lucky, you can feel a little speck crunch between your back teeth. I made another batch today because we are leaving to house sit this evening and I thought it the perfect way to use up the bottles of dairy in our fridge. Only today I played around a bit and used broken rice from the Asian market. I like the idea of taking sad little left-behind and damaged rice grains and putting them into a rich, silky sauce. Thanks to Molly, I now have a perfect go-to rice pudding recipe. Enjoy, y'all!


Molly Wizenberg


1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup basmati rice
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

Bring 1 1/2 cups water, rice, and salt to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover. Simmer until water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Add milk, cream, and sugar. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Increase heat to medium; cook uncovered until rice is tender and mixture thickens slightly to a soft, creamy texture, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes.

Remove pudding from heat and discard vanilla bean. Divide pudding evenly among small bowls. Serve warm or press plastic wrap directly onto surface of each pudding and chill thoroughly. DO AHEAD. Pudding can be made 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.


anne esquibel said...

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Anne x

tina said...

love you dearly friend. i remember you making rice pudding in the ww days!! I'm totally trying this recipe!!