Rice Pudding with Roasted Vanilla Bourbon Strawberries

A few weeks back, Ari did some quick grocery shopping. One of the items on his list was almond milk. We’re both lactose intolerant and even though with the help of pills I can eat pretty much everything dairy, drinking real milk in cereal or coffee leads to truly terrible things. We’ve gone the almond milk route for awhile now. On this trip, accidentally, Ari grabbed a box of  coconut milk instead. It’s like the almond or soy but made from coconuts and heavily processed to be a milk alternative.

We both bravely tried it the next morning, him in his cereal, and me in my coffee. It was pretty horrible. Coconut coffee is not my thing.

Instead of throwing it away I resolved to come up with a use for it and went about making a rice pudding because, why not? I might have mentioned this before but I’m not a big sweets person but when I was a kid Kozy Shack rice pudding was a favorite treat for me. I almost always prefer a cheese plate over chocolate cake to end a meal, and rice pudding blends sweet and savory so nicely.

The coconut milk rice pudding was really delicious but A. it wasn’t very pretty (the “fake milk” got sort of grayish after cooking) and B. I kept thinking how much better it would be with “real milk”. Thankfully…Lactaid.

Everyone makes rice pudding differently and the biggest difference is in the type of rice used. Some people take using basmati rice as a personal insult and swear by short grain only. In my pantry, I always keeps wild rice and basmati rice because they are delicious. Thinking that wild rice pudding might be a bit of a stretch (or maybe not?) I went with the basmati. What’s so cool is that the taste of the rice came through without being overwhelming and made the dessert all the more tasty and awesome-smelling.

After making the coconut milk batch I learned just how cinnamon-y the rice pudding gets during cooking. The cinnamon  sticks, after being dropped in, open up and infuse the pudding with a rich cinnamon flavor and aroma. While it was cooking I started to think about other toppings that wouldn’t include more cinnamon.

Recently I had bought a large container of strawberries hoping for a juicy and sweet summery snack. Unfortunately, it’s still too early for that perfect bite of summer. Roasting them, I thought, might help bring out the sweetness, and soften their pre-ripeness. And it did! The bourbon and vanilla infused a little more flavor, and with the help of some sugar, they softened and melted in pools of sweet delicious syrup.

Cooking from my fridge is always fun and often leads to delicious results. Sometimes having limited ingredients to work with leads to great things and loads of my meals start with going on a treasure hunt through the pantry and refrigerator.

Whip up the rice pudding, make the strawberries – eat them together or separately. Now that I have a jar of roasted bourbon vanilla strawberries, I’m working out plans about how to put them to good use. Suggestions?

Rice Pudding with Roasted Vanilla Bourbon Strawberries

 

 

Rice Pudding with Roasted Vanilla Bourbon Strawberries
Ingredients
Rice Pudding
  • ½ cup basmati rice
  • ¾ cup + 2 Tbsp water
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 2¼ cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup heavy cream (or use all milk if you don't have cream)
  • ½ cup + 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Roasted Bourbon Vanilla Strawberries
  • 1lb fresh strawberries, cleaned, hulled, and sliced
  • 1.5 tsp Bourbon
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean scraped (I tested both and while the bean contributes a much deeper flavor the extract works just as well!)
Instructions
Rice Pudding:
  1. Bring rice, salt, and water to a boil in a medium sized saucepan, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook partially covered until the water is absorbed (about 10 minutes).
  2. Add the milk, cream, brown sugar, and cinnamon sticks to the rice. Stir well and bring to a boil. After it reaches boiling, lower to a simmer and let it cook, stirring often (I stood by the stove for most of it, stirring, but you can let it go a couple minutes here and there without stirring)  for 20-25 min until the mixture is thickened and not too liquid.
  3. Add the lightly beaten egg yolk and stir it in well. Cook 1-2 minutes more. Take off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
  4. Let it cool a little off to the side before diving in. Warm rice pudding is delicious but if that's not your thing, once it's cooled pop it in the fridge for cold dessert optimization.
Roasted Bourbon Vanilla Strawberries
  1. Preheat oven to 425°
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. If using the fresh vanilla bean, just add the scraped out insides. Let sit for 8-10 min, until juice begins to gather in the bowl.
  3. Spread out the berries (in their juices!)  on a baking sheet in a single layer. Make sure to use a baking mat or parchments paper - this would be zero fun to clean off the sheet!
  4. Roast for 18-20 minutes and if your oven is anything like mine, rotate the sheet halfway through.
  5. Let cool. Add them to your rice pudding or keep them in your fridge for the week.

Ramp and Pea Quiche

The mad rush for ramps is akin to Black Friday deals. They happen quickly, tend to be hectic and full of elbowing, and if you miss out you’ve got to wait till the next year rolls around. I was walking by the Union Square Farmer’s Market two weeks ago when I saw unusually long lines at some of the booths, and then I saw the signs: “WE HAVE RAMPS!”

If you aren’t familiar with this Allium, a ramp is a wild leek and has a quick season right at the beginning of spring. It’s versatile and delicious. They’re a little garlicky, a little oniony, and cross somewhere between savory and sweet. We love them grilled up with a little olive oil and salt and eat tons while they’re in season.

When my cousin’s girlfriend told me she was going foraging for ramps last weekend and asked if I wanted some, I answered with an emphatic yes! (Also, how cool…foraging for ramps?!)

The most annoying part of a ramp? Just like a leek it needs to be seriously cleaned before using. Especially when they’ve just been pulled up from the ground and still have the dirt attached to them.

Totally worth it, even if it took the better part of a half-hour to get these cleaned!

I’m a big fan of quiche – both for eating and baking. Making your own crust isn’t necessary, especially if you’re short on time. There are so many good frozen and pre-made crusts out there.

Though, I really love making dough and pastry so this was worth the extra time. I also like a thinner quiche. If I’ve got a pie or something in a crust at home, it’s not going to last long. A shorter crust at least helps ensure that I won’t be eating too much at once. ..Cook’s logic?

My friend, who foraged for the ramps (again, foraging, so awesome) proposed a barter for the ramps I was getting. Instead of money she asked for a quiche which is how this post came to be.

I firmly believe we should all be exchanging/bartering more often.

For her quiche, I did a ramp and asparagus version because that felt so incredibly spring-like and perfect. For this post, I realized that I had last posted about asparagus and should probably try on a different veg to pair up with the ramps. I’ve been really into peas recently and for this recipe I grabbed a bag of frozen peas to save on time (and money!).

The combination of cream, eggs, cheese, vegetables, and some basic spices goes a long way. It’s incredibly satisfying, is great warmed or room temp, and can be eaten any time of day. For instance, I had a piece for dinner and for breakfast! See how that works? Quiche: the all day, any day food.

If you’re on the ramp train this season, what delicious things have you been creating with them?

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s lunchtime and there’s a piece of quiche calling.

Ramp and Pea Quiche
Ingredients
  • 1 9-inch pie crust, homemade or prepared
  • 2-3 bunches of ramps cleaned thoroughly and dried
  • 1 cup of peas fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup romano or parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 2.5 Tbsp butter
  • ⅛ tsp grated nutmeg
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 °F
  2. Blanch peas in salted boiling water for 2-3 minutes (if fresh, blanch longer till cooked). Remove and plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking and cool them. Take them out and let them dry.
  3. Finely chop the ramps (stems and greens included!). Heat up a sauté pan and add the butter. Once hot but not browning, add the ramps and sauté for 4 minutes or so, until the greens are soft and smell amazing. Add the peas, salt and pepper to taste, and cook 1 minute more. Take off the heat and let cool.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, nutmeg, and cheese. Mix in the ramps and peas until thoroughly combined.
  5. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (to catch leaks) and place your prepped pie crust on top. Carefully pour the mixture in. Any leftover filling can be poured into a buttered ramekin and baked alongside the quiche. That way you get to taste your finished quiche filling without have to cut a slice before you serve it!
  6. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until a knife or toothpick comes out clean, the quiche doesn't jiggle, and the top has turned a golden color.