Callie’s Cabin: Perfect pudding from the past | TahoeDailyTribune.com
Cal Orey
Callie’s Cabin

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Callie’s Cabin: Perfect pudding from the past

This is the type of dessert that I grew up with in the 20th century and is found in cookbooks around the globe. Rice pudding recipes go back in time to the Tudor period (late 1400s and 1500s in England). A basic rice pudding is made with rice, milk, cream and sugar and is flavored with vanilla and spices. It can be cooked on the stovetop and/or in the oven.

The first time I made rice pudding was back in the '60s and the recipe was borrowed from my mother. I recall one foggy morning in the southern San Francisco Bay Area of California, I played hooky from school so I could play chef (and frolic with our new Norwegian elkhound pup). The pudding directions called for cooked white rice, whole milk, white eggs, and more than less sugar, and cinnamon.

I poured the concoction into a rectangle glass dish and baked it inside our wall oven. Sitting on the kitchen floor, reading cookbooks with dog-eared pages and anticipating the pudding to bake was exciting (especially with a fluffy, sleeping pooch at my feet). I was home alone and loving it.

On Tuesday night I went back in time and put together rice pudding with fresh flair. Brown rice (it has more fiber than the white stuff) was the first switch. I added spices for flavor, golden raisins and nuts for texture and the health of it. To give this English-style pudding a sweet European twist I planned to top it off with whipped cream and chunks of dark chocolate to make this treat a sophisticated, healthier but decadent delight.

Heavenly Rice Pudding

1 ¼ cups brown rice, natural whole grain, cooked

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2 ½ cups organic half and half

2 large brown eggs, beaten

¼ cup sugar, pure cane, granulated white

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup walnuts, pistachios, or hazelnuts, chopped (optional)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup golden raisins or dried cranberries

Whipped cream

Chocolate shavings, dark

Mix cooked rice and half-and-half in a bowl. Add eggs and sugar. Stir well. Add vanilla and spices. Fold in dried fruit and nuts. Pour into four ramekins. Place in 8-by-8 dish filled with water. Bake pudding at 325 degrees for about one hour and 15 minutes or till firm. Cool and top with dollop of whipped cream and chocolate. Refrigerate. I suggest warming up when you indulge.

OK, I did perform the taste test. This savory and sweet custard-type rice pudding has a warming touch. I savored it at night while sitting in front of a warm, crackling fire with my Australian shepherd and we watched a dog-and-boy adventure film based in British Columbia (a sign for me to book my spring trip to Victoria, Canada). In the morning, I enjoyed a cup of coffee, chilled rice pudding, and fresh orange juice (fortified with vitamins D and calcium). As another storm series rolls in, this celestial dessert is one to cook up and have waiting in the oven or fridge for you and yours to enjoy and remember for years to come.

Motto: Revisiting past memories is magical but savoring new experiences is bliss, too.

Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, and Tea) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is http://www.calorey.com.