Italian Rice Pudding Tarts (Budini di Riso)

This week we celebrate my husband, Brion’s birthday. In previous years I would be able to post a ‘birthday pic‘ with a wonderful holiday background …. you know the kind with tropical plants, ocean, and such. Due to the covid pandemic keeping us close to home for the last year or so, my birthday picture of Brion is in our back yard but notice we have a tropical Canna close by!! During the interlude away from being able to travel, Brion has had to wear another ‘hat’, and has been there for me through numerous surgeries. I am incredibly grateful for that and the speedy recovery that comes through such love & care.

I had read about this little treat sometime back but had put it on hold for a special occasion and today’s the day!

Named after the principal ingredient used in the filling, budini di riso is a typical pastry coming from Siena, a medieval city in the region of Tuscany, located in the north of Italy.

Every summer, from May to July, until the 1960’s (and even 1970’s in some places), thousands of female seasonal workers would make their way to the Po Valley in northern Italy. Here, in the rice fields, they went to work as ‘mondine’. Their task was to remove weeds that could stunt the growth of the rice plants.

The compensation of these women consisted not only in money but also 1 kg of rice for each day of work. Hence the wide spread use of rice throughout the region in both savory and sweet preparations.

This rice custard tart is a combination of a creamy, vanilla scented rice pudding with a caramelized top, all baked in a crisp shortbread pastry crust. There are many variations for this Italian classic. Some like to make it with a crust, others prefer it without. Other recipes may also add fresh squeezed lemon juice for a citrus flavor.

Today, rice is the world’s most widely consumed cereal grain, which means that virtually every culture has a rice pudding they call their own.

Part pie … part rice pudding, these little tarts can be eaten for breakfast, as an afternoon snack or for dessert, they are just plain good anytime.

BIRTHDAY WISHES TO MY LOVE, YOU’RE THE BEST!

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Italian Rice Pudding Tarts (Budini di Riso)
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Servings
Ingredients
Short Crust Pastry Shells
Rice Pudding
Raspberry Topping
Servings
Ingredients
Short Crust Pastry Shells
Rice Pudding
Raspberry Topping
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Tart Shells
  1. In a bowl, sift together flour, rice flour, powdered sugar, salt & baking powder. Add butter & rub together with fingertips to make soft crumbles.
  2. In a small bowl, beat egg; add to flour mixture & work into a smooth ball of dough. DO NOT OVERMIX. Flatten dough ball & wrap in plastic wrap; chill in refrigerator.
Rice Pudding (Filling)
  1. Place rice in a saucepot. Cover with water & bring to a boil. Rinse rise; return blanched rice back in saucepot & cover with milk. Add cinnamon stick & lemon zest. Cook over low heat, stirring often until rice has absorbed most of the milk & rice mixture becomes soupy.
  2. Remove rice-milk mixture from heat & add butter; stir well. Place rice mixture in a bowl to cool. Stir & cool for about 20 minutes. In a bowl, combine eggs, sugar & vanilla; add to cooled rice mixture.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  4. Roll out the chilled pastry to a 1/8-inch thickness. Traditionally these little rice tarts have straight sides. The fastest way to do this is to cut out pastry disks with a glass or lid as big as the bottom of the muffin tin & press them gently in. Next cut with a knife some pastry strips to line the sides of the muffin tins. Press the pastry lightly with your fingers to seal the bottom with the side strips.
  5. Spoon the rice pudding into the pastry shells & bake about 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on the edges. Prepare raspberry topping.
Raspberry Topping
  1. In a saucepan, place frozen raspberries & heat until thawed. Stir in the sugar & bring to a slow simmer. In a cup, dissolve the cornstarch in water & stir into raspberry puree. Bring to a boil & simmer for about 1-2 minutes or until thickened. The mixture will thicken a bit more as it cools.
Serving
  1. Serve rice tarts warm or cold with raspberry topping & yogurt, whipped cream or ice cream. If you would prefer, just a dusting of icing sugar or as is works just as well.

Winter Fruit Soup

For most part, the category of soup is almost exclusively savory dishes. Fruit soups however, although they may be served at the beginning of a meal, are essentially sweet dishes. They may be thin and delicate or thickened and substantial.

Fruit soups actually have quite a long history, particularly in Scandinavian and Eastern European cuisines. Many of these traditional recipes are made with seasonal berries and stone fruits like cherries and apricots but any kind of dried fruit will work just as well.

While fruit soups can be served at room temperature, cold is especially nice when serving it as dessert. You can choose to make the soup with any one fruit or a combination of fruits. Of course, there are certain fruits that lend themselves naturally to soup. In addition to the fruits, they are often enriched with other ingredients such as yogurt, sour cream, milk or cream.

In 1959, the Campbell’s Soup Company produced fruit soups that were eaten hot or cold. The flavors included …. orange w/ apricots & white grapes, prune w/ oranges & apricots and black cherry w/ burgundy. Interesting! Who knew?!

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Winter Fruit Soup
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Servings
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Instructions
  1. Rinse & drain dried fruit then transfer it to a large soup pot along with the cinnamon stick.
  2. Cover fruit with 6 cups boiling water. Cover with the lid & allow pot to sit off the heat for 30 minutes.
  3. After 30 minutes, add 2-3 Tbsp honey or to taste, & place the pot back on the stove. Bring it to a boil then reduce heat & simmer on low for 5-7 minutes.
  4. Combine 2 Tbsp of potato starch with 1/2 cup cold water & slowly pour it into the soup pot while continuously stirring soup.
  5. Bring the pot back to a boil & immediately remove it from the heat. Serve warm or cold.
Recipe Notes
  • Other dried fruit choices could be: mango * pineapple * cherries * pears * peaches * figs 
  • Star anise spice

Spiced Kumquat & Greek Yogurt Tart

It’s that time of year when in our part of the country we start seeing kumquats in the grocery stores. If you have never tasted them, they are a little deceptive. Like many things in life, its all about expectations. Their diminutive size makes them seem harmless, but they have an intensely tart flavor. Kumquats have a sweet skin with a very tart flesh and are filled with a lot of seeds. The skin is often times more appetizing than the flesh itself making them perfect for candying.

This kumquat tart is such a beautiful presentation at Christmas gatherings. Thick Greek yogurt is an ideal filling to mellow the intensity of the candied citrus.

Yogurt often surpasses whipped cream as a topping for all kinds of sweet and spicy desserts. Greek yogurt has a smooth, rich and thick consistency. Part of what makes it different from regular yogurt is that it is strained to remove the whey. When whey is removed, so is water, which creates a thicker, more substantial yogurt product.

I blame it on inheritance, but I’ve always been one of those people who need something sweet after dinner. Doesn’t need to be fancy, just something to satisfy the craving. Of course, anything that seriously satisfies that craving isn’t going to be the epitome of a ‘healthy meal’. That being said, enjoy the tart.

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Spiced Kumquat & Greek Yogurt Tart
Votes: 1
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Course Brunch, dessert
Servings
Ingredients
Tart Pastry
Tart Filling
Course Brunch, dessert
Servings
Ingredients
Tart Pastry
Tart Filling
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Tart Pastry
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt. With fingertips, cut in cold butter until mixture resembles small peas. In a measuring cup, whisk together water, egg & vinegar. Make a well in dry mixture & pour wet mixture into it all at once. With hands, mix until JUST combined. Roll out pastry to about 1/8-1/4" thickness Cut out 8 - 6-inch circles with a pastry cutter. Press into tart forms. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Pierce the tarts with a fork across the bottom, line with parchment paper (paper should overflow the edges) & fill with pie weights to prevent dough from rising. Bake for 10 minutes, remove weights & paper & bake another 5 minutes more. Cool completely.
Tart Filling
  1. Make sure the yogurt has any extra liquid strained from it by using a cheesecloth if necessary Do this before making the candied fruit.
  2. In a small, heavy bottomed pot, place sliced kumquats, Grand Marnier, sugar, honey, water, star anise, cinnamon stick & vanilla extract. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat slightly & cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring often, until the syrup thickens & the kumquats are very soft. Remove from heat & discard the anise stars & cinnamon stick.
  4. Arrange a sheet of parchment paper over a cooling rack. Using tongs, remove fruit from sugar solution & lay flat on the parchment paper to cool.
  5. When ready to assemble dessert, add a tsp of sugar solution per 1/2 cup of strained yogurt. Divide yogurt between the tart shells, spreading evenly. Arrange the candied kumquats on top & sprinkle with chopped pistachios.

French Baked Brie Ideas

Appetizers, starters, hors d’oeuvers or whatever you want to call them, are such an important part of any gathering. They provide the ‘welcome’ and set the stage for what comes next.

A comfort food and party food all in one, Christmas and New years celebrations would not be complete without cheese. Brie, one of the world’s best known soft cheeses, originated in northeast France, but is now produced all over the world. A decadent cheese that evokes thoughts of sophistication and elegance.

Brie, a soft, creamy, off-white or yellow cheese with an edible rind is produced from whole or semi-skimmed cow’s milk. Typically described as tasting earthy, nutty, fruity, grassy and even mushroomy.

In France, Brie is very different from the cheese that is exported. ‘Real’ French Brie is unstabilized and the flavor is complex when the surface turns slightly brown. When the cheese is still pure-white, it is not matured. If the cheese is cut before the maturing process, it will never develop properly. 

Possibly, the most incredible way to serve brie, is to bake it, but of course that’s just a personal opinion. However, it can be difficult to find the perfect balance between under and over baking. If you remove brie from the oven too soon, it will only stay melted for a few minutes. On the other hand, if it is left in the oven to long it will lose it’s shape and be difficult to handle.

There are a variety of brie options on the market and any of them technically work. ‘Double Cream’ (227 gm) is an excellent choice, whereas ‘Triple Cream’ will become too runny when melted. 

After all these years, our memories of France, it’s food, culture, beauty and not to be forgotten — the wine (and Brion’s favorite goat cheese) have not lessened. My sister, Loretta joined us on that first trip any of us had ever made to Europe, which added to those memories of a lifetime. 

I wanted to share a few BAKED BRIE  recipes today that have been favorites of mine to use at this time of the year. Hope you will enjoy.


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Baked Brie - Blueberry * Gingered Grape * Fig & Nuts

Nothing short of impressive!

Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Servings


Ingredients
Blueberry Chutney

Brie Cheese
  • 227 - 375 gram wheel of Brie cheese If you plan to make all 3 kinds you will need 1 wheel of brie for each.

Servings


Ingredients
Blueberry Chutney

Brie Cheese
  • 227 - 375 gram wheel of Brie cheese If you plan to make all 3 kinds you will need 1 wheel of brie for each.

Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!


Instructions
Blueberry Chutney
  1. In a large saucepan, combine all chutney ingredients; mix well. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Boil 1 minute. Remove cinnamon stick. Cover & cool.

Gingered Grape Chutney
  1. Slice grapes in half. In a saucepan, stir wine with cornstarch until dissolved. Add sugar, candied ginger & grapes. Stir over high heat until it comes to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, stirring often until liquid thickens, 4-6 minutes. Remove from heat & stir in green onion. Cover & cool.

Fig & Nuts RECIPE SOURCE: https://www.themediterraneandish.com
  1. Place fig jam/preserves in a microwave-safe dish. Microwave for 30 seconds to soften. In a small bowl, combine the sliced, dried figs with chopped pistachios & walnuts. Add half of the fig jam & mix well to coat the nut mixture.

Baking Brie
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Set the brie on prepared baking sheet.

  2. For the Blueberry or Grape Chutney: You can either bake the cheese FIRST & then add the topping or TOP it & then bake it.

  3. For the Fig & Nuts: Before baking, coat the brie with the remainder of the jam. Top the brie with the fig & nut mixture.

  4. Bake the brie for 12-13 minutes. At this point it should be starting to bubble on top. The trick is to leave it in the oven for as long as possible before the wheel begins to lose it's shape. You may have to leave it a bit longer. Serve the brie warm with crackers.


Recipe Notes
  • For best results, allow the brie to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before baking as it will ensure that the cheese melts evenly all the way through.
  • Brie tastes equally wonderful with a mix of both savory and sweet toppings.