Winter in Vancouver is a unique thing, defined mostly by unrelenting rain and eternally slate grey skies. However, the rest of our beautiful country has a hard time sympathizing with us; the fact that the daffodils come up in February apparently revokes our right to complain about anything weather-related. They have a point…. I guess.
Although I really sympathize with my East coast family and friends who seem to get hit by a blizzard every Wednesday, I’m not sure that pristine white snow and blue skies are really any worse than eternally damp socks and a severe lack of UV light.
Whether you are experiencing a rainy West coast day, when the sky hasn’t shown a suspicion of blue for a fortnight, or a blizzard-y East coast one, I say let’s meet in the middle and all celebrate winter in the form of creamy rice pudding.
Rice pudding can be infused with cardamom and cinnamon and studded with plump raisins, made with short or long-grain rice, based on milk, cream or even sweetened condensed milk... and they’re all delicious! But my favourite, by far, is a simple vanilla bean pudding made with arborio rice and milk, and thickened with eggs yolks. Arborio is an Italian short grain rice, higher in starch than other varieties, which lends a creamy texture to risottos and puddings.
This recipe makes a big batch. Invite your friends over. They’ll thank you. Friends and rice pudding can beat any Winter blues.
Note that this does take time – approximately 1 hour 15 minutes of cooking time. I really love it warm, but if you want to serve it chilled, make it in the morning or the night before.
Creamy Rice Pudding
4 cups (1 litre) milk (2% works well)
1/2 cup arborio rice (do not rinse)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp butter
1 vanilla bean, scraped (optional - if you omit, simply increase the vanilla extract to your taste)
1/4 tsp salt
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring milk to a boil with rice, sugar, butter, vanilla bean seeds and salt. Reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 1 hour 15 minutes, until rice is very tender.
2. Whisk egg yolks in a small bowl. Slowly add 1/2 cup of hot pudding to yolks, whisking constantly, to temper the eggs. Slowly whisk egg mixture into remaining pudding in saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, 3-5 minutes, until pudding thickens. Remove from heat; stir in cream and vanilla extract. Transfer to a shallow dish and chill 4 hours, up to overnight, pressing plastic wrap directly onto the surface to avoid a pudding "skin".