Pudding warms the heart and stomach

What's Cooking

October 20, 2009 

There's something about rice pudding that says cozy.

As far as comfort items go, it's right up there with your softest blanket, oldest sweater and fuzziest slippers.

But to be truly comforting, it must be the right kind of rice pudding. No fancy rice, no coconut milk, certainly no bananas or chocolate.

Yes, it's true. People do put all these things and more into rice pudding. I ran across one recipe that even included lavender. That's a little too — uh — interesting for me.

I like my rice pudding plain, so I chose one of the simplest recipes I could find. It's from The Food Network, and while it is basic, it does include citrus zest and golden raisins — twists I thought would be yummy.

Shopping was easy. You should find everything you need at your regular grocery store if you don't have it in your pantry already.

Prep went smoothly. I cooked the rice the night before and brought it to room temperature while I made breakfast for the kids on a Sunday morning. Cook the rice mixture while you zest the lemon and orange — this will save a bit of time.

I have to admit I omitted the fennel. I'm not opposed to being an adventurous eater, but I can't see how this particular spice could ever complement rice pudding. Besides, I don't have a spice grinder, and the only fennel seeds I could find at the store came whole.

I cooked the pudding as directed, but after about a half an hour, a spoon wouldn't stand up in the mixture as the recipe indicated. Still, it seemed thick enough, so I served it.

It was everything I hoped for and more — creamy and comforting, with a touch of citrus zing. I especially liked the crunch from the slivered almonds.

This recipe is a keeper. Just like my fuzzy slippers.

Bee staff writer Kerry McCray can be reached at kmccray@modbee.com or 578-2358.

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