Dining In

Simple Chic: The Rice Pudding Rage

By Nancy Finch, Food Columnist   

Reading about the New York restaurant that serves nothing but rice pudding did it. If New Yorkers will pay $4.50 for eight ounces (a cup!) of rice pudding with between 4,500 and 5,000 puddings being sold a week, it was time to get “with it!”

I always sort of considered rice pudding to be what my mother would make for dessert when there was nothing around but rice, some milk and eggs. I was not enamored.

In fact, I can’t remember ever making any before. I know, food writers shouldn’t make such a confession. We’re supposed to have tried everything but, somehow, there was always something more interesting to try for dessert.

Now, though, with rice pudding being the latest, trendy rage for New Yorkers, I wondered how, we, too, could join those sophisticates.

Honey Rice Pudding with Cherry Sauce had been sitting in my file for a long time. The day had arrived. We, too, would eat rice pudding. We wouldn’t have to go to New York, pay $4.50 for a serving and, yet, could be very chic!

The rice pudding affair came on the heels of yet another untried venture. Crème Caramel had struck me as fraught with challenge that would undoubtedly leave me several ingredients poorer with a mess that likely the dog wouldn’t even eat. Well, on second thought, Sam will eat nearly anything.

A Brazilian friend brought me her ‘Crème Caramel’. It was divine, creamy, rich and, I thought, way beyond me. Nevertheless, I asked for her recipe. It is easy! Great for company — can be made ahead and makes a nice presentation to serve at the table.

One of our regular testers, a big rice pudding fan (from New York, naturally!) declared the rice pudding a winner and complimented it because it is “not too sweet.”

A joy of cooking — new adventures always await! And this time, no apologies for serving rice pudding — “It’s the rage in New York, dear.” For those who have been intimidated by caramelizing sugar, it really is easy. Our kitchen still stands and I came through burn free.

Honey Rice Pudding with Cherry Sauce

Ingredients:

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Rice Pudding

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2 large eggs, lightly beaten

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1⁄3 cup honey

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1⁄2 t vanilla

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1⁄4 t salt

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2 cups milk, heated until hot (use part heavy cream, if desired)

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2 cups cooked medium-grain rice

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Ground cinnamon or nutmeg

 

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Cherry Sauce

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1 can (15-oz.) Bing cherries, in heavy syrup

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1⁄3 cup honey

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1 T cornstarch

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1 T water

Directions: Rice Pudding — In medium bowl, combine eggs, honey, vanilla and salt. Mix well. Gradually stir hot milk into honey mixture. Stir in rice. Pour into 2-quart casserole dish. Place dish in pan of very hot water (1-inch deep). Bake at 350˚ for about an hour or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with cinnamon or nutmeg. Serve warm with cherry sauce. Cherry Sauce — In medium saucepan combine cherries, cherry syrup and honey. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer. Stir together cornstarch and water. Add to cherries. Cook and stir until thickened. Serve warm over rice pudding.

Cleo’s Brazilian Crème Caramel

Ingredients:

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1 (14-oz.) can  condensed milk

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2 cans half-and-half or 1 can whipping cream and 1 can milk (this is 3 1⁄2 cups)

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4 eggs

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1 t vanilla

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1 cup sugar

Directions: Combine condensed milk, half-and-half, eggs and vanilla in blender. Mix well. Meanwhile, pour the sugar in a heavy skillet (iron works well) over moderate heat. Stir and watch carefully until sugar melts and turns a caramel color. Be careful not to burn sugar. Pour melted sugar in bottom of casserole or deep Pyrex baking container. Make sure the melted sugar covers the entire bottom and spreads slightly up the sides. Pour milk mixture over the caramel. Bake at 375 degrees for about an hour or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serves 6 to 8.

 

 

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