Last night, I was treated to a lovely dinner at Spark, a classy club-like establishment in downtown Provo. I ordered butternut squash ravioli in a leek cream sauce. It was warm & filling, with many complex, yet subtle, flavors. It was delicious & lead to an epiphany: I don't do subtle. I like it, but I'm not good at it. The dishes I cook are full of bold, fresh, outspoken flavors (I feel like I just described myself more than my cooking). So, in an attempt to broaden my culinary range (& myself), today I opted for a classic simple comfort food--rice pudding.
There's something really cozy--and subtle--about rice pudding. There are a lot of reasons for that; the warm creaminess, the vanilla, the cinnamon. But I think mostly it's because of Costco and the giant tubs of Kozy Shack rice pudding that they sell. Back when Gooj & I made frequent pilgrimages to that Mecca of bulk foodstuffs, we would often buy one of those giant tubs of goodness, steal a couple spoons from the Costco eatery, and eat half of the pudding before we even got home. This was occasionally messy, but always delicious.
So today, in homage to my Gooj (& because it sounds yummy and goes with the whole subtle thing), I thought I'd try making my own cozy rice pudding. This is based on a recipe from Smitten Kitchen, a recipe blog that full of wit, great recipes, and pictures that make me ashamed of my sad attempts at kitchen photography.
1 cup basmati rice
4 cups water
2 slices orange zest
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
dash of allspice
1 small piece fresh ginger (about a 1/8 inch slice)
3 cups milk
2 tblsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. Mexican vanilla
1 12 oz. can sweetened condensed milk - less about 1 1/2 tblsp
cinnamon - to taste
In a large saucepan, combine rice, water, orange peel, nutmeg, allspice, and fresh ginger. I also added a pinch of salt. Let this mixture soak for 1 hour. After one hour of soaking--this is like a day at the spa for rice-- bring to a high boil. Reduce heat until rice is at a steady simmer. Cook for 12–15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the almost all of the water has evaporated. Remove ginger.
While rice cooks, beat egg in a medium bowl. Add milk, brown sugar, vanilla, and almost the entire can of sweetened condensed milk to the egg--I held some back because I didn't want it to be too sweet, but if you want something a bit more toothsome, you can add the entire can. Add milk mixture to rice and simmer gently. Cook for another 20–30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Keep an eye on the heat; if your flame is too high, the rice will stick and scorch on the bottom (these stuck spots became my "testers").
When the pudding reaches the consistency that looks most yummy to you, turn off the heat & allow it to cool for a few minutes (or until completely cool, if you prefer). Pudding will thicken as it cools.
Top with cinnamon and serve. mmhmm.
*photos to come*