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.
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
- 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
- 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!)
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Preheat oven to 425°
- 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.
- 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!
- Roast for 18-20 minutes and if your oven is anything like mine, rotate the sheet halfway through.
- Let cool. Add them to your rice pudding or keep them in your fridge for the week.