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Thursday, September 17, 2015

RICE PUDDING




When I am low on dessert and I want something fairly easy but good, rice pudding is among the items on top of the list. There are many rice pudding recipes out there but I have chosen the simplest one. I shoot for flavor not for unusual ingredients or combination of ingredients as the trend is among professionals and home cooks alike. If I bake bread, I make it just plain—no need for additional olives, garlic, parmesan cheese and so on. I may add some spices but basically I prefer the plain and simple and that’s true for my rice pudding.

To start, I use short-grain sweet rice (also called sticky rice, glutenous rice, sushi rice, risotto and Arborio rice). Whatever your choice, they are all the same: short-grain rice has a ratio of two different starches that on cooking becomes sticky like the rice you see in sushi. For long-grain rice a different starch ratio gives a non-sticky quality; the rice grains are distinct.

The price of the various short-grain rice varies greatly but the end result is the same for all, believe me. The most expensive is the Arborio rice from Italy, marketed for risotto. The cheapest is the one you find in Asian supermarkets, perhaps a quarter of Arborio rice. In health food section of supermarkets you also find short-grain rice in bulk—this is not expensive and shelf life of any white rice may be measured in decades. Might as well buy enough to last.

The remaining ingredients of rice pudding are staple items. For liquid I prefer half-and-half, some people use milk instead to reduce calories, others full cream but that’s a little too rich for my taste.

Rice pudding
1 c uncooked short-grain rice (sweet, sticky, sushi, risotto or Arborio rice)
½ c sugar
3 eggs
½ tsp salt
2½ tsp vanilla or 2 Tbsp brandy, rum or whisky
2 c half-and-half or light cream
1 c (5 oz) raisins

Topping
2 Tbsp sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon and 2 Tbsp melted butter

Cook rice very slowly in one-and-half times water with ½ tsp salt for 15 minutes, remove from heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

Beat sugar with eggs, salt, flavoring and half-and-half, then fold into rice along with raisins.

Spoon into 9x9-inch well-greased baking pan.

Combine sugar and cinnamon of topping and melt butter. Set these aside.

Bake pudding in preheated 350°F oven for 25 minutes. Sprinkle topping ingredients over top and drizzle with melted butter.

Continue baking for 5 to10 minutes more or until set but still jiggly soft. Cool. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Serves eight.


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