Sunday 9 October 2011

Rice Pudding

There are certain holy grails that I seek on a daily basis in my kitchen.  Affordability is on that list, as are flavour and nutrition.  I seek to include whole grains wherever I can, despite living with someone who complains when fed too much “cosmic granola food.” 

Rice pudding carries me a long way on my quest for kitchen grail.  I make rice pudding for dessert because it’s inexpensive, it tastes good, and it’s not overly sweet.  I also make it because it’s easy to prepare and the quantity of servings can be adjusted to accommodate however many people I happen to be feeding.  It’s easily dressed up too:  It can be topped with fruit or with applesauce, sprinkled with chopped nuts, or simply topped with cream or a little milk, straight from the jug. 

I usually cook with a mixture of various brown rices and a long grain wild rice.  Since whole grain rice takes a long time to cook, and it takes as much time to cook a little bit of rice as it does to cook a large quantity of rice, I’ve fallen into the habit of cooking quite a lot of rice all at once.  I divide the cooked rice into 2-cup packages, and pop it in my freezer.  When I know I’m going to need rice for supper, I take a package out to thaw in the morning. 

Because it is what I most often have on hand, I use my cooked whole grain rice mixture to make my rice pudding.  It adds a pleasant, toothsome texture to the dish and it hides a good quantity of fiber and nutrients in a package that’s palatable to even my picky eater.

I calculate the quantities for my rice pudding based upon single servings and I cook the pudding in small ovenproof custard cups.  If you prefer to serve your dessert family style, several servings can just as easily be cooked in a single large dish.  Shallow dishes tend to work best when cooking quantities of rice pudding in a single batch.  A 9-inch by 9-inch baking dish works well for 6 servings of rice pudding

For each serving of rice pudding, I use:

  • 1/2 cup cooked rice
  • Some currants—I have no idea how many.  Just use an amount that looks good to you.
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. low fat evaporated milk (Not sweetened condensed milk!)
  • A generous grating of nutmeg—Again, use your own judgment here.  Add an amount that looks right to you. 
  • A pinch of salt

Put your rice into a large bowl (if you’re baking it all together, put it into the dish you’ll be baking it in), add the currants, and mix them together.  If you’re baking the pudding in individual dishes, portion the rice and currant mixture into its individual servings.

Whisk your eggs until they are well beaten and no separate bits of white and yolk are visible.  Add the brown sugar and milk, then mix again until the ingredients are well combined.  Grate in your nutmeg and add your salt.  Be generous with the nutmeg.  It’s the main flavouring in the pudding and will need to be strong enough to flavour not only the custard but also the rice.  Mix again to distribute the salt and nutmeg through the liquid, then pour the liquid over the rice and currant mixture.

Bake the rice pudding in a 350 degree oven until the top browns and it begins to set.  It should still be a little soft in the middle when you take it out of the oven. 

You can serve rice pudding warm (I like it best that way) or allow it to cool and then store it in the refrigerator for later.  It’s a simple, old-timey treat with a comforting flavour and texture.  I hope you enjoy it.

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