It’s fascinating how some recipes remain favorites generation-after-generation but others all but disappear from our repertoire. Chances are that, on the menu of any American diner, you’ll still find meatloaf and mashed potatoes, spaghetti and meatballs and perhaps apple pie à la mode for dessert. Growing up in the ‘50s and ‘60s some of my childhood favorites included tapioca pudding (a.k.a. ‘fish eyes and glue”) and rice pudding – but these are rarely served anymore.
The other evening I cooked some rice to have with dinner but found that I had a lot left over. Usually I would convert the leftover rice into a savory meal such as Fried Rice but I was in the mood for some sweet comfort food, so I made a delicious batch of custardy rice pudding.
Most old recipes for rice pudding call for cooking raw (uncooked) rice on the stovetop in a milk and egg mixture sweetened with a little sugar and vanilla. There is always a great debate of whether or not to add raisins but most everyone agreed on sprinkling a little cinnamon on top. The ultimate comfort food!
Delicate creamy rice pudding is a perfect backdrop for customization. Instead of sugar, you can sweeten it with honey or maple syrup. In place of the usual raisins, try adding a little candied ginger and lemon rind or some dried cranberries or blueberries. For an amazing warm flavor, I like to use some ground cardamom instead of cinnamon. A dollop of crème fraiche, sour cream or plain yogurt adds a tangy taste. If you want to “spike” your rice pudding, use a little coffee rum in place of the vanilla!
RICE PUDDING with LEFTOVER RICE
1 ½ cups milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar (or 2 tablespoon maple syrup or honey)
1 ½ cups cooked rice
1 egg beaten with an additional ½ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Optional: 2/3 cup raisins, plumped in a little hot water
Heat the ½ cups milk and sugar in a medium saucepan, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the cooked rice and continue cooking for 15 minutes until the mixture becomes creamy.
Add the beaten egg and ½ cup milk and continue cooking for 5 minutes until the pudding become thick.
Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. If you’re adding raisins, drain the plumped raisins before adding to the pudding.
You can serve the rice pudding warm or chilled in the refrigerator. If you’re not eating the rice pudding immediately and want to avoid having a film (or “skin”) form on the top as it is exposed to air, cover the pudding with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface.