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Kitchen Mailbox: Rice pudding stirs up memories of warm, cozy childhood desserts

Thursday, October 21, 1999

By Arlene Burnett, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

You know you have a winning recipe when someone says "This is just like my mother used to make."

Certain foods conjure up warm memories of cozy family gatherings. Simple but wonderful desserts like today's recipes for rice pudding are perfect examples.

Rice pudding has been gracing tables for at least 100 years, so it's no wonder some of us describe this comfort food as "old-fashioned." And even though e-mail and busy schedules have replaced family gatherings, rice pudding is not a thing of the past.

Here you'll find four different versions of rice pudding. Two are made with raisins and can be served warm or cold (we served both warm). Another recipe is more like a custard and not as sweet as the others. It's served with a tangy lemon sauce; crushed pineapples and maraschino cherries are called for in another. For the Old-Fashioned Rice Pudding, we experimented with arborio rice (a creamy, short-grain Italian rice frequently used in making risotto). The pudding turned out extra creamy.

We dug up some fun info on rice:

Ever wonder why we used to throw rice at the bride? The ancient ritual symbolized fertility; the updated version is that it symbolizes prosperity and abundance.

"Have you had your rice today?" Supposedly this is a typical greeting in China instead of "How are you?"

In China, it's bad luck to upset a bowl of rice and it's considered a deadly insult to pick up someone else's bowl of rice and spill it on the ground.

A legend in Japan: Soaking rice before cooking releases the life energy and gives the eater a more powerful soul.

In India, rice is the first food a bride offers her husband.

If you're an Indonesian female, don't even think about marriage until you can skillfully prepare rice.

Source: USA Rice Federation

Marilyn Hogg of Bethel Park, requested a recipe for Old-Fashioned Rice Pudding.

Helen Lamison of Carnegie sent us the first two recipes.

Rice Pudding

1 tablespoon butter
3 cups hot cooked long-grain rice
4 eggs, separated
2 cups half and half
2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
Lemon sauce (recipe follows)
Whipped cream, optional

Stir butter into rice. Beat yolks and add half and half, milk, sugar, lemon rind, vanilla and salt. Stir into rice.

Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold into rice mixture. Pour into a buttered 11-by-7-inch baking dish. Set in a pan of hot water.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Serve warm with whipped cream and lemon sauce.

Lemon Sauce

1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
3 tablespoons lemon juice

Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Stir in water gradually. Cook, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Blend remaining ingredients. Spoon over rice.

Glorified Rice

2 cups cooked long-grain rice, cooled
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup sliced maraschino cherries
1 cup heavy cream, whipped

Combine rice, drained pineapple and sliced cherries. Let this stand in refrigerator for one hour.

Whip cream until stiff, fold it into the rice mixture.

Pile into serving dishes. Serve immediately.

In 1968, Judy McKenzie of Monongahela found this recipe in a booklet from the West Penn Power Co. titled "Homemaking Today" -- she's been making it ever since. (After testing this recipe, we know why.)

Rice Pudding

5 tablespoons uncooked rice
1 quart milk
3 tablespoons butter
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup raisins

Place rice, milk and butter in a saucepan and cook on medium heat until steaming. Turn to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

Beat eggs; add sugar, salt and vanilla.

Pour boiling rice mixture gradually into egg mixture. Add raisins. Pour into buttered casserole and bake for 45 minutes at 325 degrees. After 15 minutes, stir and sprinkle with nutmeg.

Serve warm or cold with milk or cream.

Llona Mellor of Oakland, N.J., formerly of Shaler, sent us her version of rice pudding.

Old Fashioned Rice Pudding

1 quart whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup long grain rice, rinsed and drained (we used arborio rice)
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup evaporated milk (undiluted)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Nutmeg

In a heavy saucepan, cook milk and salt until slightly heated. Stir in the rice; when mixture reaches the boiling point, lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add raisins and cook until rice is done (about 10 minutes). Add 1/4 cup of evaporated milk. Cook a few minutes longer.

In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, sugar, vanilla and 3/4 cup of evaporated milk. Stir some of the rice mixture into the egg mixture. Return this mixture to the one in the saucepan and cook slowly until it thickens a bit. Pour into bowl and stir often while pudding cools.

This recipe was sent in by Anna Marie Ferris of Shaler. It makes a hearty one-dish meal for liver lovers. If you're not overly fond of chicken liver, you might want to increase the seasonings. Do not overmix or the liver will turn to mush.

Chicken Livers and Rice

2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
3 cups chopped chicken liver
1/2 cup water
1 cup rice (do not use instant)
1 teaspoon salt; pepper to taste
4 cups water

Sauté onion in butter until brown. Add chicken livers and 1/2 cup water; simmer for 5 minutes.

Wash rice well; add 4 cups water. Boil 10 minutes. Add chicken livers to rice. Simmer covered, until rice is done. Stir frequently to avoid sticking.

Season with salt and pepper.

Requests

Does anyone have a recipe for New England Clam Chowder similar to Red Lobster's? How about a recipe for Baba Ghanooj (eggplant dip) similar to Ali Baba's in Oakland? If you do, please send the recipe in for Dee Lukas of Edgewood.

In the past, we've had requests for various goodies from Dudt's Bakeries -- here's another:

"My husband and I have lived in Florida since 1969, but he has fond memories of his childhood birthday cakes from the Dudt's Bakery on Brownsville Road in Brentwood. Would you happen to have a recipe for their 'ice box cake' in your files? Maybe some generous readers would share a similar recipe, if they have similar memories from the 1950s. I'm at a loss, since I never tasted a Dudt's cake, but I've heard about them for years from my husband and his sisters.

"Can you help me surprise him with a replica (taste wise) of these cakes?"

Nancy Goodall
Clearwater, Fla.

Karyn Harmon, a former resident of Carnegie who now resides in Sacramento, Calif., lost her recipe for stuffed jalapeños peppers with Cheddar cheese and cumin. Harmon found this recipe in The Pittsburgh Press either in 1992 or 1993. Can anyone help?


If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail to aburnett@post-gazette.com. Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number on all correspondence. All recipes are kitchen-tested by the Post-Gazette.



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