Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Delicious and Gourmet Dessert

I had a great idea yesterday. I love rice pudding. The cooked kind. With tapioca. My Mom would make rice pudding when we had enough rice leftover from a meal, and it was a special treat. There were 7 of us kids in the family, so having enough left over was tricky. We would beg Mom to make lots of rice, so there would be leftovers. She always thickened her rice pudding with tapioca, and with egg. Over the years, I have found the egg not to be necessary, and I like my rice pudding usually just a little less thick. The basic ingredients have always been milk, sugar rice, tapioca and vanilla, with or without eggs and with cinnamon sprinkled over top

Gourmet Saffron Rice Pudding with Cardamom
I was writing an article yesterday about coconut milk; what it is, its nutritional value, and some suggestions for using coconut milk, beyond the world of Indian Curries and Thai foods. One of the thoughts was to use it instead of milk to make rice pudding. I have played with my Mom's basic recipe for some years, changing out seasonings. I really love cardamom, so I have been using that either along with cinnamon, or on its own. The other thing was that the rice I had leftover in the fridge was Saffron Rice. 

Saffron is another thing I grew up loving. I know it is not everyone's special cup of tea, and have read commentary in places about the awful taste of saffron. To me, it is one of those smells and flavors that is evocative of great childhood memories. In particular, my paternal Grandma always made her soup with saffron, and the whole house smelled of her saffron flavored chicken soup when we arrived. My husband and I were lucky enough to be in Spain for a day on a cruise long ago, and though the large box of saffron I bought was not the highest quality, it still worked great and smelled heavenly and it goes a long way. My saffron rice is simple, just Basmati rice, a dab of butter or oil, salt and saffron.

So okay, back to the Rice Pudding. I had the leftover rice. I have added a pinch of saffron to my rice pudding at times also, so this saved a step. I had coconut milk. I had tapioca and cardamom. I set to work to make myself some pudding, and this is what came out of it. It is one of the best rice puddings ever, in my book. The saffron can be left out. Cinnamon can be used instead of cardamom. But I did really love the creaminess and flavor when made with the coconut milk. The recipe seems vaguely middle eastern, with the saffron and cardamom and coconut.

Gourmet Saffron Rice Pudding with Cardamom

Gourmet Saffron Rice Pudding with Cardamom
1 can coconut milk (14 - 18 ounces)
3 tablespoons minute tapioca
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon cardamom, ground 
2 1/2 cups precooked, cooled saffron rice 

In a 4 cup measuring cup, pour in the coconut milk. Add in water to make a total of 3 cups. Stir, and pour into a medium saucepan. Add in the sugar and tapioca, stir and allow to stand for 3 - 5 minutes. Add in the cardamom and rice, to combine. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once boiling, lower heat and cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. Stir occasionally to prevent a skin from forming, or place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding until cool. 

This makes enough for 6 to 8 servings, depending on who's eating! I had pomegranate arils in the fridge also, and sprinkled some of those over top. Then I got the idea to layer the arils with the pudding in a wine glass. Pistachios added another pop of color and goodness. The whole thing was just so pretty, I got carried away with the photos. I hope someone finds this idea as enjoyable as I. The recipe is completely gluten-free, also, and if you haven't used butter in the rice (as I did), it is both vegetarian and vegan. Yum.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.