Monday, June 27, 2011

Frugal Food: Rice Pudding

Throwing out food is like throwing out money. If you utilize every item of food in your house, the savings can really add up. But we all know the challenges: picky eaters, spouses who refuse to consume leftovers, and worst of all food that goes bad when saved. A prime example of this latter problem is rice.  

Rice is a great low cost starch that really adds substance to a meal and is the foundation of many middle eastern and asian diets. Yet once it is cooked it must be consumed quickly, and is almost impossible to gauge exactly how much rice to make. I invariably either make too little, and have to cook up some more - which results in some leftover- or too much which obviously results in some leftovers. A day or two in the fridge and that once fluffy rice turns hard and gritty. This refrigerator shelf life can be extended slightly by adding some water to the storage container, but this trick still only gives that rice a little more staying power. Inevitably some of that leftover rice is going to end up in the trash bin. Heartbreaking. The answer is rice pudding.
Rice pudding is simple to make, transforms the rice into a completely new dish and tastes wonderful. Kids and adults will love this simple breakfast and dessert. To jazz things up, you may want to serve it in wine glasses, like I have in the photograph. Or serve chilled with melon slices.

Rice Pudding:
3 cups of cooked rice
5 cups of milk
2/3 cup sugar

Optional flavorings: vanilla, cinnamon, cinnamon stick etc.

Mix the rice milk and sugar together in a pot. Bring the mix to a simmer then reduce the heat to maintain the simmer. Cook until the mixture starts to thicken, usually around 30 minutes. Stir frequently, otherwise a thick skin will form on top of the pudding and you may scorch some of the rice. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking for another 15 minutes with frequent stirring. Remove from the heat and stir in optional flavorings.

Store rice pudding in the fridge. If you really love cinnamon and have the spare cash to waste you can thrown in a cinnamon stick during the cooking process to provide a real cinnamon punch to the pudding.

For a non-dairy version, you can use soymilk, almond milk or coconut milk. I have tried them all. They all work.

For a richer, less healthy pudding, use 2 1/2 cups whole milk and 2 1/2 cups half and half instead of regular milk.

If you want to try this pudding but don't have leftover cooked rice on hand, don't worry. Just cook 1 cup of rice as you normally would and then proceed with the recipe. One cup of uncooked rice will generally yield 3 cups of cooked rice.


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