Saturday, July 7, 2012
Vanilla risotto and poached cinnamon and vanilla quinces
Comfort food: long winter braises, soups and rice pudding. I've been filling my freezer with the aforementioned soups and stews for days but I haven't had rice pudding in years and on one of the coldest nights I can remember, my soul ached for the sweet creamy comfort of a vanilla scented custardy pudding.
However, I'm not a fan of the baked pudding version (the skin creeps me out) and I didn't want to wait the two hours it inevitably takes to bake a pudding anyway. Plus I didn't want it sitting in my fridge for days on end, tempting and taunting me to sneak spoonfuls every time I opened the door.
Enter vanilla risotto. It's made in a similar way to the regular risotto but with milk rather than wine and stock. It's simple, quicker than a baked pudding and satisfies all those winter cravings for a rich warming something sweet. The recipe below makes enough for two very generous portions and I served it with some cinnamon and vanilla poached quinces (the recipe is here).
If you aren't going to serve this with poached fruit you will need to add some more sugar but because the poaching liquid for the quinces is quite sweet, I made this quite plain.You could also scent this pudding with nutmeg or cinnamon instead of vanilla if you choose.
The measurements are a bit general - I find risotto is more of an art than a science. I have given basic quantities but they are flexible depending on the weather, the level of heat you use and the type and quality of the rice - and how well done you like your rice pudding. If you like the grains falling apart, you'll need more milk and more time. The result is a satisfying, creamy vanilla scented delight that you'll make time and time again. Perfect for satisfying those comfort food cravings on a cold blustery winter's night.
A knob of butter (about 20g)
100g risotto rice (I used arborio)
800ml milk (I used skim - it's all we had at home)
1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar
A teaspoon of vanilla paste or extract or 1/4 of a vanilla pod
3 tablespoons cream (optional)
Heat the milk in a small pot until warm and keep it just off the boil while you make your risotto. Melt the knob of butter in another heavy based pot and add the rice, stirring until toasted but not coloured. Start adding the milk, about 150ml at a time, stirring until almost absorbed. Cook until the rice is done - you'll want to take it further than a regular savory risotto but not until the rice is mushy. It took about 35-40 minutes for mine to be done to my satisfaction but it's really personal taste. Remove from the heat and stir through the cream if you want it to be even richer (you don't really need it but it is a yummy addition).
Served with poached fruit.