It’s a big week for us. The Milwaukee Irish Fest is coming up this weekend and I’m going back to work mid-week. The best part (for me and the kids) of all of this is that Paul’s sister Cecilia and her husband Michael have been in town to visit and help out with the Festival. Sunday night we had a family dinner, which we try to do most weekends, but it was extra special this time with our guests, perfect weather and the anticipation of the busy week ahead. I made too much food because I forgot that Uncle Mike had to get back to Charlotte for the work week and I kept miscounting plates, bowls and forks all night long, setting a place for him even though I knew he was on a flight. We ended up eating more than we thought we would, Paul was able to keep Eve from crying all evening long and it was so, so nice, to spend the time together. Yes, I won the in-laws lottery.
For dinner we had mustard-balsamic glazed chicken, a burrata, basil and heirloom tomato salad, grilled vegetables, including amazing corn from the Farmer’s Market (nothing like superfresh corn in the summer), and for dessert, bruleed rice pudding with dried cranberries. It was like summer on a plate and made me wish I could eat local heirloom tomatoes and fresh corn all of the time.
About a year ago I bought a kitchen blow torch to make creme brûlée with and now I’m always looking for an excuse to brûlée stuff. We love rice pudding around here, brûléed or not, but the sugar topping makes this homey dessert a little more fancy and adds texture. I gave Emmett a blow torch demo. He called it my dragon fire blower and made me promise not to put it in his room when he went to bed.
This is my recipe for rice pudding. Doll it up with coconut, fruit, spices, whatever you like. I love to add tea and chai spices or skip the brûlée and top it with poached plums or pears. Here, I keep it simple with some vanilla, cinnamon and dried cranberries.
Brûléed Rice Pudding with Dried Cranberries
1 tablespoon butter
⅔ cups short grain rice (I used Japanese style sticky rice because that’s the short grain that I usually have around)
4½ cups whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 cinnamon sticks
½ cup loosely packed brown sugar
¼ cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
Turbinado sugar, for serving
Melt one tablespoon of butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan, add rice and cook over medium-low heat for a couple of minutes until all grains are coated in butter.
Add milk, cinnamon sticks and salt and turn heat up until milk-rice mixture begins to boil.
Once the mixture is boiling, turn heat down and simmer mixture for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionaly to make sure milk doesn’t scald, until rice is cooked through.
In a small bowl, whisk sugar and eggs together.
Ladle ¼ to ½ cup boiling rice mixture into the eggs and sugar, stirring continuously.
Whisk egg-sugar mixture into rice mixture and simmer until it thickens slightly. Do not boil at this stage or you risk curdling. I keep the heat down to the lowest setting at this point.
Once pudding has thickened, remove from heat.
Remove cinnamon sticks and stir in vanilla and dried cranberries.
Transfer to a serving dish. Allow to cool slightly, then cover with wax or parchment paper to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Just before serving, remove parchment or wax paper and cover top of pudding with a thin sprinkling of turbinado sugar. Melt the sugar with a blow torch or place the dish under the broiler until the sugar is melted and serve.
Next weekend we will be away from the kitchen and at the Milwaukee Irish Festival. We hope to see you there.