Friday, May 16, 2008

Rice Pudding

When I was a child we always drank fresh cows's milk. I don't mean the kind you get in the supermarket (that was always the artificial kind according to my mother), I mean real fresh cow's milk that had just been milked and delivered in a large metal milk jug. The milk-man would always knock on our door every other day. If we wanted milk we would have to run inside and fetch a pot so that he could pour the amount we needed. He would dip his small jug into the big metal milk jug-which he usually carried around on a bicycle- and pour the amount we needed in our pot. Then immediately that pot went on the stove and was boiled thoroughly to get rid of any bacteria. Cream was skimmed off the surface and stored and the rest of the milk was cooled and left in the fridge. The milk smelled completely different than milk we get today, you could definately smell cows and nature. Years later the milk-man stopped coming to our door because noone bought his milk. All the big milk companies were taking over and advertising their pasteurizing process, claiming that their products were safer. I never really appreciated this milk-man till I grew up and had kids of my own. I began appreciating all the traditions that I experienced growing up and cherished then. Maybe because I feel nostalgic and miss my parents and family. Or maybe because we live in a world where authenticity has been fogged up by over-processing, over purifying, and pasteurizing, that there's almost hardly anything natural left that hasn't been tampered with. This is what tempted me to make my own jam more often. And maybe this is what tempted me to buy own mill attachment so I can grind my own corn and wheat and make flour. Maybe this is why I was so touched by Aran's post from Cannelle et Vanille where she talks about making her own petit swisse, yogurt etc. I love picking my own herbs from my garden and was even tempted to buy a small cherry tomato to plant but the temperature here soars so high that I would doubt it could survive. Whatever it is I am deeply affected by something that is driving me to make home-produced food that is normally bought from the store. Maybe I am affected by the way my mother, and her mother before her were, maybe I want to be a better mother for my children. So yesterday I was at the store looking at the dairy section and while reading all the different labels on the tiny containers I came accross rice pudding, and it was quite expensive. I make it often but I hadn't made it in a while and really missed it, so I decided to pick up a 2 litre jug of double-cream milk and make it as soon as I got home! I remember reading Aran's post on Rice pudding and thinking how similar it was to ours, we also make it without eggs and almost the exact same ingredients. In Cairo, where I am originally from, rice pudding or as we call it "roz b'laban" which is translated simply as "rice with milk" is a traditional dessert. There are shops dedicated exclusively to the dessert and they have really expanded their menu and produced a variety of flavors and spin-offs on the original. My favorite is "Roz bil Ice" which is translated "rice with ice" which is rice pudding sprinkled with coarsely crushed and roasted mixed nuts and topped with a single scoop of fresh vanilla ice-cream. It may sound weird to have rice pudding with ice-cream and I had my doubts the first time I tried it, but that is one thing you really must try for yourself to appreciate! I remember the first shop of its kind opened up in Alexandria, and we didn't have one in Cairo. It seems like yesterday that we (my college buddies and I) drove up from Cairo to Alex and back just to have rice pudding (it's roughly a 2 hour drive). Those were wonderful days!

My brother and I always debated on what made the best rice pudding . I spent some time trying out different recipes to achieve the perfect texture and taste. The secret, I discovered, it all boils down to the quality of the milk, so I use double-cream milk. I also noticed that fresher rice pudding isn't solid, but much looser than most other varieties and realized that stopping the cooking process earlier achieves that runnier (but not too runny) version. The less starch that comes out of the rice during the simmer, the thinner it sets. Some people half cook the rice and then add it to the milk, but i prefer to make the whole process easier on myself. When you use double cream milk you get a lovely rich top layer in the pudding that is a lot thicker than if you're using single cream milk. The recipe is below if you want to try it!

Rice Pudding:

2 liters double cream fresh milk
170 g. short-grained rice (I use Egyptian rice)
8 tbs sugar (you can use brown or white)
1 tbs cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick

Optional additions:

crushed nuts or crushed pistachios
powdered cinnamon
vanilla ice-cream

Wash & drain the rice. In a medium saucepan slowly heat the milk and cinnamon, add rice and simmer slowly on low heat. Add sugar and mix well. I usually use a metal heat diffuser on the stove to avoid burning or over-heating the rice. Stir occasionally for about 40 mins until the mixture thickens slightly. Take off the heat and pour into bowls, jars or even glasses. Sprinkle with nuts or cinnamon and leave to cool. Store in the fridge.


Vera said...

This looks so creamy and mouthwatering!
Basma, what is the fat percentage of your milk? We don't have double cream milk here. There is either milk (maximum fat content is 3,25 %)or double cream, usually used for whipping.

Bakerette said...

Hi Vera, you can use single cream milk, most people make it that way. Alternatively you can add a bit of double cream to the milk.

Aran said...

Oh my goodness... you know you got me with this post! Not only the references to my recipes (thank you!) but because rice pudding is my all time favorite dessert along with vanilla ice cream. So the version of rice pudding with ice cream you are talking about... I want, I want, I want...

It looks very similar to mine and I also love the skin that forms on top. That's the best part in my opinion.

I was touched by this post. I too want to be a better mother for my son and this is also why I choose to make some of my own things. Of course, I could always do more but it's a start.

The photos look great. I love the first one very very much...

Wonderful post. I am very moved.

Lina said...

mmmmmm that looks so wonderful! I can never get enough of your yummy pictures!

Bakerette said...

Thanks Aran! Yes motherhood is a challenge but a good one! My most cherished memories of my mum are about cooking and making things together so I hope my kids have that too...but it isn't easy...of course Mcdonalds days do happen...they are rare but i'm not perfect :)

Heather said...

how beautiful! i've never really tried rice pudding, but this sounds delicious, and i love the little yogurt jars as containers! i've always wondered what to do with mine on weeks i don't make yogurt!

Sophie said...

This looks like my kind of comfort food. your photos are so pretty, I'm happy to have just discovered your blog. I'll be back :).

Tartelette said...

I remember going to the farm with my parents to get fresh milk. Once home, my dad would boil it and spread the cream on top on toasted bread...Heaven. I am lucky to be able raw milk here again at the market and I have been making my own ricotta, mozarella, yogurt and creme fraiche since I am tired of paying such high prices for things that can be done so easily in the kitchen.

Aimée said...

Rice pudding is such a comfort food. too bad more people don't appreciate it!