In The Southern Heritage Cakes Cookbook, it explains how women's baking flourished after the introduction of baking powder and the rotary beater. Cakes were given names from either famous people or places like General Robert E. Lee cake, Williamsburg Orange cake, etc.
I felt like I had experienced a little of what it was like to be in an era like this when Hurricane Katrina hit. My dad made a brick lined pit and topped it with a broken wrought iron table to make a grill. My mom used all her cast iron pots and pans and even a blue speckled tin pot to do all of her cooking. I helped her prepare biscuits, peach cobbler, and bread pudding cooked in a cast iron pan tented with aluminum foil to act as an oven. Besides participating in cleaning up fallen tree limbs and debris, I helped my mom prepare each meal. This was an endeavour when a fire had to be built and we didn't have running water or electricity. How easily we take for granted the things that we use every day.
I decided I was going to make an old fashioned dessert. I can't say that the idea at first sounded that appealing to me but I was going to make it taste good. My mom told me how her mom used leftover rice to make rice pudding. It is a very economical dessert in this respect. After some research, I discovered that this dessert is consumed worldwide. In the Phillippines there is Champorado (chocolate rice pudding). Kheer is a slow boiled milk rice pudding from India. Add milk, eggs, raisins, and orange peel to rice to make Budino di Riso, Italian rice pudding.
For my rice pudding, I prepared Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding. I used cooked Jasmine rice and a whole vanilla bean. I loved the fragrant aroma and robust flavor the vanilla bean added to the rice pudding.
From my recent trip to New York, I was inspired to prepare toppings to go on my rice pudding from a place we visited called Rice to Riches. It was like walking into a yogurt shop. There were multiple rice pudding flavors such as cheesecake and chocolate chip. Then there were topping choices such as roasted strawberries and toasted coconut.
I prepared an almond brittle to top my vanilla rice pudding. It added a great contrast of textures. I don't consider rice pudding old-fashioned any more; it has been revitalized.
Prepare my rice pudding recipe this New Year's for your friends and family and enjoy a taste of the past as you celebrate the new year.
Vanilla Rice Pudding
1 cup cooked Jasmine rice
1 ½ cups skim milk
½ cup whipping cream
½ cup granulated sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped, or 1 Tbsp. vanilla bean paste, or 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Heat the rice, milk, whipping cream, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Add vanilla bean seeds and bean into rice mixture. Reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes on low, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Discard the vanilla bean.
Beat egg and egg yolk in a small bowl. To temper the eggs, stir in a few tablespoons of the hot milk mixture into the eggs. Slowly mix in egg mixture into saucepan.
Return saucepan to low heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Let cool for 5 minutes.
Serve rice pudding warm or pour into a bowl and refrigerate for 1-2 hours and then serve.