It’s been a slow, lazy kind of week. I’ve been working like a fiend but when I get home, I just want to hit the couch, make something easy to eat and overdose on Olympic events. Have you been watching the Olympics? I don’t understand the low ratings – this is some fantastic stuff! I am glued to the TV every single night. Amazing! And I’m not talking figure skating which, in my opinion, is a big snooze. (Update 2/26 pm- I stand corrected. Women’s figure skating was something else – holy crap – but in general I stand by my statement.)
What I love about the Olympics is the events you don’t hear much about at any other time. Bobsled, luge, short track, ski jumping … the list goes on and on. Dedicated athletes who spend years training in relative obscurity for this one moment. Good for them! This is the sort of thing we should be cheering on. It’s all great! If you haven’t been watching, you have a few days catch before Closing Ceremonies on Sunday. Get on it!
All the snowboarding was fantastic – Shaun White is frankly amazing. That “Double McTwist 1260″ is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. Sounds like a pretzel. Plus they make up all kind of nutty words for the sport – like “amplitude.” I don’t know what they’re talking about half the time but it’s fun and I love it.
The alpine events have been unbelievably exciting – downhill, super g, slalom – and I personally enjoyed some Bode redpemption (if you don’t know what that means, well you haven’t been watching now have you?) Freestyle events have been jaw dropping– moguls, aerials and my new favorite – Ski Cross. Holy crap, it’s flat out drag racing on skis!
The commentators kill me. There’s some deep stuff transmitted over our TV airwaves, folks. My favorites of the last two weeks – from cross country skiing: “Fourth is the worst.” I laughed but so true. And this gem from Johnny Moseley in reference to the moguls event – “these skiers are on the edge of out of control.” I don’t even know what that means but it made perfect sense as the ladies were flying and flipping and flinging their way down the hill.
Hockey, oh my, hockey. There’s been a lot of pacing and screaming in my house lately. Hell, even curling has been pretty intriguing. I can’t stop watching! But my favorite has been, of all things, cross-country skiing including the Biathlon and the Nordic Combined. The US men hit the podium for the first time ever – twice! – in Nordic Combined (jumping & cross-country.) (UPDATE 2/26 – add two more to that total!) And the drama! The women’s sprint gold medal favorite took a dinger pre-race into a ravine (a ravine!) THEN raced 4 times and still took the bronze with … get this … 4 broken ribs and a collapsed lung. What!?!? That’s some HUGE cohones right there. They must raise ‘em tough as nails in Slovenia.
So with all this excitement happening on my TV, I haven’t wanted to spend a lot of time in my kitchen. Who knows what I’d miss! The thought gives me anxiety attacks. As a result, I’ve been eating some pretty uninspired food with the focus on quick. The rice cooker has come in handy – hit the button and it’s done in 15 minutes. The downside is I’ve found myself with a lot of leftover rice. This naturally leads to a craving for rice pudding.
Did you know that this is actually a post about rice pudding? I know, it took me a while to get to my point but there is one and it’s delicious. So there are two basic types of rice pudding – a soft, creamy version and a denser more solid kind. I like both but not wanting to spend a lot of time hovering over a pot on the stove (again, might miss something!), I went with the later … a baked rice pudding. It fit the bill – easy, quick, hands off and it uses up all that leftover rice I’ve accumulated. Mix it together, heat, temper eggs, bake. Super simple it got me back in front of the TV in no time.
Quick note – add whatever dried fruit you like. Raisins are traditional but I actually prefer dried cherries. Apricots or blueberries would be nice too.
STRESS BAKING THERAPY FACTOR: GOLD MEDAL WORTHY. It’s easy – pretty much hands off. It’s economical – use leftover rice. It’s quick – once you heat everything, only 20 minutes in the oven. It’s tasty – creamy, vanilla-y and delicious, good warm of cold. It’s a keeper.
BAKED RICE PUDDING
This is a great use for leftover cooked rice and the recipe can be easily halved – or doubled – though the baking time will need to be adjusted a little. To cook fresh rice, bring 1 cup rice and 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
3 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 cups cooked rice (jasmine, basmati or long grain)
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, scraped (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup dried cherries
- Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, cream, scraped vanilla bean and pod and rice over medium heat and bring to a low simmer, stirring occasionally.
- In a separate large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and cinnamon.
- When the milk/cream mixture comes to a simmer, add a ladleful to the egg/sugar mixture and whisk to temper the eggs and bring up the temperature so they don’t curdle when added back to the hot milk. (If some rice gets in there, no worries.)
- Add another ladle or two of milk and continue to whisk.
- Turn the heat off and slowly add the tempered egg mixture back to the pot of warm milk/cream/rice.
- Stir to combine.
- Add the dried cherries and stir to combine. Pick out the vanilla bean pods (you can wash, dry and stick in a jar with sugar for vanilla sugar.)
- Pour the rice mixture into the casserole dish and place in preheated oven, uncovered.
- Bake for 20 minutes until a skin forms on the top of the pudding and the rice has absorbed most of the liquid.
- Allow to cool a little and serve warm or cool to room temperature and then refrigerate, covered, for several hours or overnight.
- Rice pudding will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Once cool, you can cut it pretty easily into squares or wedges for serving.