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It snowed yesterday. This may not be unusual for the rest of Canada in March, but here in Vancouver it certainly is. It actually snowed a lot this winter. It’s been a long one and I’m tired of wearing boots and carrying my umbrella wherever I go. I want the sun to shine again. I want the flowers to bloom. I want to wear cotton dresses and open-toed shoes on my feet. Yet it feels like spring will never come.
This past weekend I pulled out all of my spring clothes from my storage closet. I washed and ironed everything and hung it my closet, ready to go. I was willing spring to come. When you don’t have enough room in your closet for both your warm and cold weather clothes, you realize how much stuff you really have. And I realized how much of it don’t even wear. I have items that I really love and wear them over and over until I get tired of them, and then I move onto the next thing.
It’s a lot like this with food; I go through food phases the way I go through clothing phases. I find a new recipe or rediscover an old one and suddenly I’m eating it almost every day. Sometimes its Caesar salad. Sometimes its lasagna or cinnamon apple crepes, or just plain French Vanilla ice cream. Lately it’s been rice pudding.
This is an odd one for me. I was never much of a rice fan until I went to Italy and discovered risotto and arborio rice. Arborio rice has a high starch content and when you cook the plump grains in a flavoured liquid you get a creamy sauce that’s rich and delicious without a lot of fat. It makes the perfect rice for rice pudding. I’ve been eating it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
My first few attempts at making this treat ranged from less-than-satisfactory to just plain awful. I was looking for a texture that was rich yet light. Creamy without a lot of added fat–like the whip cream called for in some recipes. With a bit of web-surfing and mucking around in the kitchen I found a basic rice pudding recipe with all of the above. The egg and the bit of butter give it that much sought after richness.
Although you can cook the rice in milk just as you would cook a risotto, I find that method unnecessarily laborious. You cut the stirring time considerably by simmering the rice first and then cooking it in milk until it becomes thick and creamy. This original inspiration for this method and recipe is adapted from Allrecipes.
Although I love sweets, I don’t like anything that’s too sweet. This recipe calls for only 1/4 cup of sugar, which I think is enough. If you prefer sweeter desserts, you can boost this to 1/3 of a cup.
Rich & Creamy Rice Pudding
3/4 cup arborio rice
2 cups milk, divided
1/4 cup white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon good vanilla extract
2 teaspoons butter
Boil 1 1/4 cups water in a medium saucepan. Add rice and a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes.
Add 1 1/2 cups milk, sugar, and salt. Cook over medium heat until most of the milk is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Stir often, so the the bottom won’t burn.
Combine egg with the other 1/2 cup of milk and slowly incorporate into the rice. Cook for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the butter and vanilla.
Serve warm or at room temperature.