Friday, 6 March 2015

Arroz con leche de coco - Spanish rice pudding

Ye humble olde porridge is busy having its 15 minutes of super food fame. London for instance just saw the opening of yet another porridge bar where punters can be expect to fork up up to £7 for a bowl!

I grew up in Scandinavia on that very stuff so my needs to satisfy this particular trend were fully met a good 30 years ago. I never liked the stuff but it came served with the daily dose of awareness à la "those poor starving children of Africa". Yet my attempts to "contribute" and "give back" (a.k.a. suggestions that we ship that dreadful stuff over there ) were met with a total lack of excitement. Go figure.

Rice pudding on the other hand is something I love - that is something that in Scandinavia is traditionally only eaten once a year, at Christmas. And so we still do, always cooked the same way. My Fussy Sister still shoots down my attempts to be creative. Luckily outside Christmas (and in my own kitchen...) I can jazz it up a bit!

Arroz con leche is very much like rice pudding that we know, only sweeter and often eaten as a dessert. There are variations as much as there are grains in a packet of rice: with and without cinnamon, with lemon, with orange, baked, cooked, sweet and even sweeter (I've even seen recipes using condensed milk!)

My recipe gets its wonderful richness from coconut milk and is brightened by the lemon peel. As my sister (one of this blog's six readers) is reading this post 600 kilometres from me I think I just might dare to say this is the best rice pudding I've ever eaten. 

You might want to double the dose straight away as the two of us get through the recipe below in a heartbeat. And hey, in the next blog post there's a recipe for converting the leftovers to something (if possible) even nicer! Which was actually the whole reason I got cooking this to begin with. Though, finally being able to break in those gorgeous bowls I found on the last tour of the flea markets was almost as pressing a reason. Recycling. Gotta ♥ it. 

Serves 3-4:

a 400 g tin of coconut milk (4,25 dl)
7 dl milk
the peel of 1 (organic) lemon
1/2 - 1 dl sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
1 vanilla pod
2 dl (175 g) short grain rice
25 g butter

to serve: cinnamon (or dried, sweetened coconut flakes!)

Peel the lemon in one strip (if possible) as this makes it easier to fish out of the pudding. Cut open the vanilla pod, scrape out the seeds with the back of your knife and add into the pot with lemon peel, coconut milk, milk and sugar. Bring to boil and add rice.

Lower the heat and continue cooking over low heat, stirring every now and then, for 50-60 minutes until done. The texture of the rice pudding should be loose at this point as much like risotto, it will start setting quickly. If it looks too dense, add 1 dl of hot milk.

Once the rice is cooked, remove the skins from vanilla pod along with the lemon peel. Fold in butter in small cubes, cover and leave to rest for 5 minutes. Serve.




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