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Filtering by Tag: rice

Rice 103: Pudding!

Suzanne Pollak

While the first two rice dishes in our Rice summer school series — paella and risotto — have great cultural pasts, rice pudding is personal, evocative, emotional... 

For me, rice pudding brings up memories of college dinner parties my sister & I gave for our friends. Instead of time at the library, we devoted hours devising menus and guest lists, then walked together to the grocery store to buy ingredients only to haul them back to our apartment (as we neither owned a car nor even possessed driver's licenses.) We had small monthly allowances so dinner parties were a creative way to please people on a culinary shoe string, with our financial resources combined. Rice was our standby dessert because pudding pleased everyone, even if it wasn’t their childhood comfort food, or ours. Rice pudding was easy to make, exotic to our friends, foolproof, inexpensive, delicious.

[Illustration,  Pepperidge Farm Cookbook , c. 1970]

[Illustration, Pepperidge Farm Cookbook, c. 1970]

Our recipe came from an old-fashioned standard, Margaret Rudkin’s Pepperidge Farm Cookbook. We soaked raisins for a topping and always whipped heavy cream by hand to top the topping. Gilding the lily was our mantra straight through college, at least where food, parties, and dress were concerned. We didn’t always apply the philosophy to our studies — funny I should be a “Dean” now. But Charleston Academy classes always start with drinks followed by food, so perhaps none of this should come as a surprise.

Paella uses bomba rice, risotto: Arboria rice, both medium grain and starchy which do not make good puddings. This leaves long grain rice for puddings. Do not use ‘instant’ or ‘minute’ rice. Basmati and jasmine rice are excellent choices too. 

Pepperidge Farm Cookbook Rice Pudding

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart whole milk

  • ⅓ cup rice

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ½ cup sugar

  • Dash of cinnamon

  • 2 tablespoons rosewater

Directions:

  1. Butter a 2-quart casserole. Put the rice in the casserole and pour in the milk. Add the seasonings and stir well.

  2. Bake for 3 hours, stirring every 15 minutes during the first hour to keep the rice from staying in the bottom of the casserole. 

  3. When cooked, sprinkle the rosewater over the top. Serve hot or cold, with or without soaked raisins (in brandy, cognac, or just hot water) and whipped cream.



Summer School: RICE 101 - Paella Night

Suzanne Pollak

Hot take — some carbs are good for you! Cole Porter sang of romance: It's delightful, it's delicious, it's de-lovely. At the Academy, we sing similar riffs about rice. It’s delicious, it’s delightful, it’s delectable...

Paella Night

PAELLA+NIGHT.jpg

Paella might be the pinnacle dinner party menu, the perfect food to knit together a group, especially when cooking over an open fire with guests standing around watching. It’s primal, it’s ancient, it’s deep. First off, to be in the hands of an Engineer of Paella is comforting and exciting. All will be good. You can feel it.

The feast begins with the visual — platters of fish and vegetables, a sack of bomba rice, pot of fish stock, bottle of Spanish olive oil, and tins of spicy paprika and saffron laid out on trays — teasing the eyes. This engineer had the largest tin of saffron the Dean had ever seen! Joy number one: watching a confident cook take charge, knowing exactly what to do with the order of ingredients. Your eyes, nose, and stomach anticipate a feast. A patient wait is required for the ingredients to transform into one of the world’s magnificent feasts, and a patient wait is just what we all need. Off the devices and face to face — right there the night becomes unforgettable. Meanwhile the wood smoke and tomato smells seduce the nose…

This particular engineer knows how to riff like any accomplished cook. No artichokes at the market? So what! Martha Vineyards Morning Glory Farms had asparagus just picked. What to serve first? Not too much at such an opulent feast. But guild the lily with local oysters. In this case honeysuckle oysters from waters pulled just that morning.

Here are the paella steps according to the Engineer’s method:

1. Shuck oysters.

1. Shuck oysters.

2. Build the fire.

2. Build the fire.

3. Lay out ingredients.

3. Lay out ingredients.

4. Sauté onion and green pepper.

4. Sauté onion and green pepper.

5. Sauté soft shell crabs and monster shrimp!

5. Sauté soft shell crabs and monster shrimp!

6. Sauté garlic and green onion.

6. Sauté garlic and green onion.

7. Add tomatoes whirled in the blender.

7. Add tomatoes whirled in the blender.

8. A good dose of paprika…

8. A good dose of paprika…

9. Be generous with the saffron!

9. Be generous with the saffron!

10. A quick stir…

10. A quick stir…

11. Rice makes an entrance.

11. Rice makes an entrance.

12. Time for asparagus and eggplant.

12. Time for asparagus and eggplant.

13. Scallops and swordfish enter the picture.

13. Scallops and swordfish enter the picture.

14. Add stock.

14. Add stock.

15. Add rice!

15. Add rice!

After we’ve heard the rice bottom pop and the paella has rested, it’s time to serve. The engineer decided to put the paella in the middle of the table as centerpiece. Who needs plates? The communion continued with everyone eating straight from the pan. Eat the triangle of paella in front of you. Communion and communication make a dinner party its best.

This Professor of Paella pulled off the two main tricks: all the flavor absorbed in the rice and the crusty layer on the bottom, Mmmmmmm. Plus two other secrets, including a fistful of saffron threads from that bottomless tin. The Dean was so mesmerized she forgot to find out the source and price for a treasure of saffron that huge. The other secret is the Bomba rice. Two expensive ingredients but WOW!

Remember a paella cannot be thick. This engineer owns three paella pans all the same size, perfect for serving six people from each pan so the rice is thin and gets that essential crust. But who wants 18 for a Paella feast? Five or six is perfect.

CHEESY RICE! & A Post-Joaquin Dispatch from Lake City

A. K. Lister

AK here, writing from a hotel room at the Inn at the Crossroads, which just happens to be the grandest hotel Lake City SC has to offer.  My boyfriend and I found ourselves stuck here last night in a foolhardy attempt to get home from a mini-vacation in the mountains over the weekend.  While driving through the thick of the storm, we were re-routed from the main stretch/I-95 to local highways, large parts of which are still underwater today.

The sight of houses and cars ruined by unprecedented rainfall along the way made us all the more grateful to arrive in Lake City and eventually (after calling a friend in Charleston who knew someone who knew someone else here) find a place to lay our heads.  We have since been counting our blessings -- our apartment on the third floor of a two-centuries-old Charleston house undamaged, our belongings accounted for, our friends and families safe.  But we are still desperate to be cozy at home.

Once we find ourselves back, we will no doubt be hankering for a homemade meal of the most comforting kind.  But, thanks to the houseguests who occupied the apt. in our absence, I expect our pantry is likely to be stripped down to the bare minimum.  If cabin fever is setting in & making do with whatever is left over sounds like a situation you can identify with, then here is what we'll both be having for dinner:

In aside...absolutely NO judgement if you are face-to-face with a bag of Uncle Ben's, but if you have any say in the matter, go Gold.

Finally, on behalf of the CADP, stay safe out there!  As we make our way back to Charleston -- which probably still looks more like Venice than it probably should -- we keep all those in SC who have lost people they love and places they call home in our hearts today.

X AK