December 20, 2007

Orange and Cardamom Rice Pudding

I made rice pudding last night. There's something very relaxing and homey about rice pudding. Comfort food, if you will, though I know that term gets bandied around quite a bit. But back to the pudding, I was asked by the church I've been attending to donate a dinner for two, so I wanted to make something that would please a large palate spectrum, and something that would be cheerful and comforting.

I started making a plain vanilla rice pudding, and it smelled very nice, but I thought it could use a bit of spicing up, a bit of Christmas-y flavoring. So I ground fine in my mortar two pods of cardamom and added that to the simmering milk and arborio rice, and zested an orange and added that with the sugar. The result...a very delicious rice pudding with hints of orange and cardamom that I hope you enjoy.

2/3 c. arborio rice
5 c. milk
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out or 1/2 t. vanilla extract
2 cardamom pods, seeds ground fine
pinch of salt
1/2 c. sugar
1 orange, zested

Bring the milk and rice to a boil, then lower the heat, add the cardamom, salt and vanilla bean, if you're using it and simmer until the rice is soft. This takes about 30 minutes, and please give a stir often. Then add the sugar and orange zest and vanilla extract if you're using it, and simmer another 10 minutes until thick. Yay! It's done...well, almost.

If you want a richer, thicker pudding, you can add a beaten egg or two. Laison the egg, by adding a bit of the hot milk to the eggs whilst stirring, and then adding it all back into the pudding. This will keep the eggs from curdling. A good time to do this would be at the same time you add the sugar and zest.

Now take that orange that you zested, and make supremes (segmented oranges that have all the peel and pith removed) for a lovely garni and there you have it. Isn't this stuff terrific? So simple. Old technique as well, to make a dessert that doesn't need to be baked, back before household ovens were commonplace. Puddings are sort of old fashioned in that way, but I think that's part of their charm.