Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Rice Pudding and Facebook Stalking

I attribute today's nonsensical obsession with rice pudding to three factors:
1. A recent discussion about a sweet Malaysian dish called siro roti, which is comparable to bread pudding.
2. An attempt to focus my attention on something other than my stalled art project.
3. Leftover whipped cream in my fridge which was begging to be eaten.
So I yielded to this irrational yet harmless desire, and made myself a yummy batch of this hearty treat.

The ingredients are tried-and-trues in any kitchen - milk, eggs, butter, sugar, white rice, and vanilla. 

Oops. I forgot to include the sugar in this pic. Well, I think you can imagine white sugar without my help, am I right?

Double oops. The recipe calls for three eggs, not four. Ironically, as you will see, my brain convinced me to put out an extra for the photo...more on that later.

The technique for this recipe is as simple and straightforward as the dish itself. Dump a half a cup of rice in a pan.

Pour in a full cup of water, cover the pan, and set it to boiling. If you are like me, wait till the pot boils over and makes a giant steaming mess before you remember to turn the heat down to low. 

If you are smarter than me, watch for the boil and turn it down right away. 

Either way works.

After five minutes, open her up and see what ya got. Mine looks like cooked white rice. Whoa now, I sure didn't see that coming.

Add four cups of milk and four tablespoons of butter to the pan. Yep, just pour it right on top of that rice and stir it all up like a big pot of gumbo. I stirred extra hard to scrape up all the bits of rice that were already stuck to the bottom of the pan, and that seemed to work out just fine. Bring the ingredients back up to a boil.

Now slap that lid back down, turn the heat all the way back down to low, and set a timer for 45 minutes. You're welcome to peek in from time to time, and give it a good stir. 

But I forgot all about stirring. Because it was right about here that I got busy stalking old boyfriends on Facebook with one of my teenage bffs.

Rice pudding is important but a good and proper stalk deserves my full attention. These are my priorities and I'm sticking to them. No harm was done to the pudding.

While the rice and milk are cooking, take a few minutes to crack three eggs in a bowl,

whisk 'em up,

pour in a half cup of sugar and keep whisking,

and finally, add one-half teaspoon of vanilla. I never measure vanilla. I just eyeball it. So far, no one has died. Or complained.

Okay, now there is plenty of time for more stalking. At this point, we had found the two guys who were cousins. Many years have passed, but these guys are still wearing the EXACT SAME MOUSTACHES they wore as 16-year-olds. 

Which is a sad statement about their commitment to keeping up with facial hair trends.

But an impressive piece of evidence about their ability to grow legit mustaches in high school. I'm proud of them for that.

When the timer beeps, pour that nice eggy mixture into the rice and milk concoction, and whisk it all up together. Let it come back to a boil, and keep stirring.

Which meant that at this point, with my arm attached to my cooking spoon, my friend had to take over primary stalking duties. But I supported her with enthusiastic one-handed text messages and constant reassurances that she and I did not look nearly so old as the guys did. Good thing we found that Fountain of Youth a few years back.

Okay but wait. This is a critical junction in the making of a pudding. Time to stop discussing whether the guys are actually bald or just look that way because of bad lighting, and take a close look at what is going on in this pan.

Sometimes, puddings do not thicken up as you would like them to. This is a problem, but I have a few tricks up my sleeve. For this recipe, I advocate for the Extra Eggs Solution, which goes like this:

Get one or two more eggs out of the fridge, depending on your level of determination to make a thick pudding. Today, I opted for two.

Whisk them up, pour them into the pan, and whisk until it boils again. 

If all is right with the universe, the pudding should thicken delightfully. Mine did. Happy day.

Pour that pan full of creamy yummy into a buttered flat dish, cover it with plastic wrap - I like to push the wrap all the way down on top of the pudding to prevent a yucky skin from forming - and off to the fridge it goes for a few hours of cooling. 

When you can't stand to wait another minute, serve yourself a nice little dish of it and top with whipped cream. And cinnamon, if you like. I meant to add cinnamon, but I was too excited to eat it.

As I enjoyed this creamy goodness, I thought about those boys - now men - from my past. And I realized that it is possible - not necessarily probable, but definitely possible - that they could stalk ME, and find the link to this blog post on my wall, and eventually come here and read this.

So Damian and Vince, if you're reading this, just know that as I eat this sweet treat, I am enjoying the equally sweet memories of good times spent with you.

* * * * *

Old-Fashioned Rice Pudding

1 cup water
1/2 cup uncooked rice
4 tablespoons butter
4 cups milk
3 eggs, well beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium covered saucepan, heat water and rice to boiling, turn heat to low and cook five minutes without stirring. Remove lid and stir once. Add milk and butter, return to a boil. Stir. Reduce heat to low and and cover. Cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat eggs with sugar, add vanilla. Add mixture to rice, stirring. Mixture will thicken as it cooks. Remove from heat when it reaches a thick but not stiff consistency.

Pour into buttered dish, cover with plastic wrap, chill well. Serve with whipped cream or a sprinkle of cinnamon, if desired.

Makes 12 servings.


Please comment...I'd love to hear from you!