This might be the reason my boyfriend fell in love with me. Possibly. One of the first times I ventured into his cave-like boy apartment, I noticed a store-bought container of rice pudding in his refrigerator----the kind in the little plastic cups. It wasn't hard to miss as it was one of only three things in there. Upon further epicurean investigation, I learned of his love for rice pudding. Well, isn't that serendipitous, I thought, because I love making rice pudding! I told him the store-bought stuff just cannot compare to the homemade variety. He believed me. Well, maybe----I could see a glint of disbelief in his eye. But when I brought over a dish of homemade rice pudding, he was easily persuaded. Of course, I had to leave a dish at home, too, for my daughter fights like a mama bear over her portion of rice pudding----it's one of her absolute favorites.
For me, making rice cooking is a boon for my senses----the soothing scent of the warm milk combined with the fragrant jasmine rice; the simplicity of stirring a pot of comfort over a gently simmering stove. Ahhh...
But here's the deal: use good quality ingredients. When a recipe is made up of few ingredients, those ingredients shine through---good or bad. If you make this recipe with whole, organic milk and a real vanilla bean?!.... Well, anyone will be persuaded to eat homemade rice pudding from here on out, and perhaps they'll fall in love, too.
First, let me share an old book----my parents read this book to us as children and my kids read it as children, too. It's about a puppy whose punishment is to go without rice pudding for dessert---so sad!
Rice Pudding Worth Coming Home to...
6 Cups Whole Milk
3/4 C. White Jasmine Rice
1/2 C. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (use the good stuff, or a vanilla bean, split)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. First, soften the rice in the milk in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir often to prevent sticking. Remove from heat after approximately 30 minutes, or when the rice is softened slightly. Stir in the sugar and salt.
Pour the rice mixture into a 2 or 3 qt. casserole dish placed in the middle of the preheated oven. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, stir the pudding and stir in the vanilla. Bake for another 50 minutes and then turn off the oven, crack it open with a wooden spoon and allow the rice pudding to rest in there for another 15 minutes. Smell the heavenly smells wafting from the oven and then serve warm, or even cold from the refrigerator.
For true indulgence, serve with a bit of cream poured over the top.