Saturday, 3 March 2012

Rice, Rice Baby!

Budino di Riso e Cocco al Forno con Ciliege
Oven-Baked Coconut Rice-Pudding with Cherries

You know how it is sometimes, when you just wake up one morning with an inexplicable craving for something you haven't eaten for years? That sense of nostalgia, remembering something from the past and knowing at the same time that you are indeed romanticizing the whole thing- and that it really can't have been "all that good" after all...

It was that way this morning. I woke up, hankering for the dessert we used to get so often at school as I was growing up and that I didn't like at all at the time- rice pudding! Of all things! Something so banal and simple! Back then, we would get a small bowl of glue, made from rice and topped with a blob of jam. Well I knew I could do at least a little better than that! And I came up with this little idea here... hope you like it as much as I did!

Not wanting to go into overload with sugar and fat, I decided to skip the cream in my version and keep it simple. I boiled the milk, added the rice, about half as much grated coconut,  some fresh vanilla and the faintest hint of nutmeg. I ground the vanilla pod up rather than just scraping the seeds out- one quick whizz in my blender did the trick. I also skipped the sugar and used Stevia to sweeten my rice- but that is completely up to you... you don't all have to be on the same "trip" that I am! And probably you don't have the same problems keeping off the weight!
The rest was plain sailing and business as usual- stirring occasionally and simmering until the rice is smooth and creamy... totally easy! Just don't forget to add that obligatory little pinch of salt- just the tiniest amount will make the flavor fuller, richer and much, much nicer.

In the meantime, I sliced and de-stoned the cherries and popped them into a saucepan with a little nob of butter and a good splash of Cointreau. Once they had begun to bubble, I added cinnamon, a hint of chili (optional) and turned down the heat. They only need to cook for 3-4 minutes- just long enough for them to start exuding their juices and to turn into a light syrup.

Now, simply spoon the cherries into the bottom of your ramekin and then add the creamy rice pudding on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon and a light drizzle of honey and bake in a moderate oven for 15 minutes, to finish cooking the cherries, bring the rice back up to temperature and give the whole thing a glorious golden topping... you're going to love it!

And the best thing is- NO school, no homework- just yummy, delicious dessert and so easy to make! Enjoy!

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