Not Grandma’s Rice Pudding

I always loved rice pudding as a child, creamy custard studded with raisins and topped with a good sprinkle of cinnamon.  But the rice itself was kinda drab.  A few years ago, I found a recipe that caused a rice pudding revolution in my kitchen: it used sweet rice which is a white short grain oriental rice.  You could substitute Arborio rice if you like.  I buy this rice in oriental grocery stores but I think Wegmans may carry it too.  Each grain absorbs the milk as it cooks and releases a lot of creaminess as well as providing a soft squishier rice that gives the pudding a more blended feel than my mom’s usage of long grain rice that stayed firm and separate from its pudding surrounding.

arborio rice

This recipe is naturally gluten free.  No one eating it will think, “Oh, darn, another of those weird GF recipes!”  They will just think, “I wonder if she will think I am piggy to want seconds of this?

I think in a pinch you could skip the second part where you briefly bake the pudding but I never do, I think it helps the pudding form the best texture.  Do sprinkle the top with cinnamon unless it is something you despise.  I recommend whole milk as it makes pudding taste so good but if you prefer two percent that will work.  I do not recommend skim milk for pudding. Ick on the texture and flavor of such a mutant pudding!  And this recipe is great with chopped dried apricots, dried cherries, golden raisins, or even currents or in it instead of raisins. My original recipe had lemon peel and apricots in it. Recently I put a few long orange peelings in it and a cinnamon stick while it cooked on the stove top which gave it a delicate orange flavor which played well with the raisins. So, you can alter it to suit your mood and your ingredients.

rice pudding

This snowy weekend adds more really cold days.  What could be more comforting after a chilly time shoveling than a bowl of wickedly creamy homemade rice pudding?

Best Ever Rice Pudding

Ingredients

¾ cup sweet or Arborio rice

1 quart whole milk

1/3 cup raisins

1/3-1/2 cup granulated sugar, this depends on your sweetness needs!

2 egg yolks

2 whole large eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla

A good sprinkle of cinnamon

Directions:

Rinse the rice in a strainer briefly, place in a heavy bottomed 1 ½ quart saucepan, pour in the milk (4 cups) and stir frequently as it heats on medium to a bubbly simmer.  Add the raisins and turn down the heat to low, cover and cook 25 minutes.  Be sure to stir it every 5-9 minutes to separate the rice and keep it from scorching on the bottom.  Add the sugar, stir well.  Mix up the egg yolk and whole eggs in a bowl with a whisk and add in some of the hot mixture; maybe 1/3 to ½ cup.  Dump it all back in the pot and stir well.  Turn off the heat and add the vanilla.

Heat your oven to 300 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a low ceramic or glass baking dish. I like an oval myself, that shape is what my mom usually used!  Pour in the pudding, removing any lemon or orange peel and the cinnamon stick if you used such and sprinkle it well with cinnamon to dust the surface.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Sometimes I put it in a hot water bath created with a 9×13 cake pan and some hot tap water.  This can produce lovely delicate custard if you don’t mind the extra fuss.

It is tasty warm and wonderful the next day.  Some people guild the lily with toppings of whipped cream, grated lemon or orange peel or even whipped mascarpone cheese.  Up to you how you dress it up!  I occasionally serve a homemade cookie on the side for added crunch value.  Enjoy!

Mahi Mahi With Tangy Veggies Over Rice

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I like to combine healthy proteins like fish with lots of great veggies and create awesome flavors to make quick meals yet, food with complex flavor combinations and naturally gluten free.  Case in point;  a frozen fillet of mahi mahi.  I keep a couple individually wrapped fillets in my freezer to form the basis of a quick meal; it has a firm meaty texture and will work well with a number of ingredients. Finding it somewhat bland I like to spark the flavor with a couple great additions to create a delicious meal, olives and capers to name those chosen today.

This is somewhat of a vague recipe, you can use more or less of the ingredients depending on your pantry and your palate.  I used salad olives that have pimento in them, even more flavor!

green olives capersraw cod fish

Mahi Mahi with Veggies   for one; can easily double

Ingredients:

1 4-6 ounce fillet of mahi mahi

1-2 tbsp. mild olive oil

½ a small onion, chopped

1 small celery stalk sliced fairly thinly in rounds

½ cup sliced fresh zucchini, half moons

1 cup chopped swiss chard

8-14 green olives roughly chopped

1 tbsp. capers

2-3 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1-2 tbps. Vermouth or dry white wine

1 tbsp. butter

Directions:

Heat a tbsp. of the olive oil in a medium sauté pan.  Add the fish and cook 3 minutes lip it and cook 3-4 more minutes. You want a nice lightly browned fillet but not overcooked.  Remove from the pan and set aside, covered so it doesn’t get cold.

Add the rest of the oil, heat, add the onions, stir, add the celery and cook, stirring frequently until they begin to soften, 3-4 minutes.  Add the zucchini and the swiss chard.  Stir and cook 5-6 more minutes.  Add up to 2 tbsp. water if the pan seems dry.  The water creates steam and helps to cook the veggies.  Don’t over do it or you will have a soggy mess.

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After 4 of the 5-6 minutes add the chopped olives and the capers.  When the veggies looks about done, return the fish to the pan and pour the fresh lemon juice and Vermouth over the fish and the veggies. Stir another few seconds.  Add a tbsp. of butter and, while it melts, season with a few grinds of fresh pepper.  The butter, lemon juice and wine form a delicate sauce that clings to all the veggies.

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Taste before adding any salt as the capers and olives provide a fair amount of salinity and it is impossible to remove salt once you sprinkle it on.  Serve over hot steamed rice.  I love it over long grain brown rice or long grain white rice.  It is a complete meal without any additions.  Creating it should only take 15 minutes if you already have some cooked rice available.  White rice can be made in less than 20 minutes. Enjoy this healthy yet very flavorful meal some evening soon!