Chances are good, you’ve tried rice pudding at least once. That’s because humans have been eating the dish for thousands of years across the world.
Today, rice pudding is considered a humble dessert …. a simple mixture of rice with milk, sugar and spices. But for centuries, rice pudding held a place of distinction in the royal courts of Europe. Because rice did not grew well in the European continent, it had to be imported from Asia along the Silk Road or by water. The extensive trade routes made rice an expensive commodity that only the rich could afford. As the world seemingly grew smaller through the effects of globalization, the import of rice became affordable and common.
Many early rice puddings did not resemble the sweet dessert we think of today. This sweetened version didn’t arrive until the 15th century. Usually rice pudding is sweetened with white or brown sugar, honey or dried fruit, but you can also use maple syrup, jam, date sugar or fruit juice concentrate.
Different varieties of rice lend their own tastes and aromas. I opt for Arborio, which makes the pudding creamy even when I use low fat milk or non-fat milk. Fruit, whether fresh, dried or candied is the puddings perfect partner. Today, rice pudding is considered an easy and versatile dessert which many of us associate with our childhood.
Baked Apricot Rice Pudding
In a bowl, combine egg whites, egg, milk, sugar & vanilla. Beat until combined but not foamy. Stir in cooked rice, snipped apricots, cardamom & orange zest.
Place 4 custard cups in a rectangular baking dish. Divide rice mixture among dishes, Place baking dish on an oven rack. Pour boiling water into the baking dish around custard cups to a depth of 1-inch.
Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes or until just set, stirring after 20 minutes. Serve warm or chilled. Garnish with slivered apricots & pistachios.
More than ever, our souls need Valentines Day right now. It’s time to embrace the challenge and think outside of the box on how to create something special for the occasion. Since February 14th falls on a Sunday this year and the pandemic keeping many celebrations at home, its the perfect excuse to enjoy a brunch with a grilled cheese …. ‘angel food grilled cheese‘ that is!!
When most people think of grilled cheese they imagine a savory, cheesy sandwich served over lunch, but have you ever tried a sweet grilled cheese? Is it dessert? Is it breakfast? It really doesn’t matter.
Sometimes we get stuck in a rut with that cheddar on white bread thing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just that there’s so much more cheesy goodness out there to be melted. Grilled cheese ideas only continue to evolve.
Obviously, a good cheese is the key to grilled cheese success, but the truth is, you can never really go wrong. Its your personal preference that really matters.
The tone is set for a great grilled cheese with the first slice of bread or in this case, loaf of angel food cake. Lime flavored cream cheese gets melty and gooey spread between the cake slices. Its the perky part of the sandwich that adds something unexpected.
If strawberries aren’t your thing, try raspberries, blueberries, mango or even kiwi and if you prefer a sturdier outside, use a sweetened brioche or challah bread. Whatever works for you!
Brion absolutely L-O-V-E-S angel food so for me the choice was clear. The fact that the ‘grilled cheese’ is not overly sweet made it a real nice brunch item for us.
Angel Food 'Grilled Cheese'
Angel Food Cake (Yield = (8) 1-inch thick slices)
Angel Food Cake
Preheat oven to 325 F. Have a 9-inch loaf pan available. Do not line or grease the pan in any way.
In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup sugar, flour & cornstarch. Set aside.
In another bowl, add egg whites, vanilla, cream of tartar & salt. With a hand mixer on medium speed, beat until foamy, about 30 seconds. Slowly stream in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Continue to beat on high speed until soft peaks form, about 4 minutes.
Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, gently FOLDING them into the egg whites using a rubber spatula. Repeat with remaining flour mixture in two increments. FOLD EVERYTHING TOGETHER GENTLY so egg whites do not become deflated in the process.
Pour batter into the loaf pan. Place the loaf pan on a baking sheet & bake for 35-40 minutes. When cake is baked it should not be sticky to the touch.
Once the cake comes out of the oven, immediately turn it upside down & invert it over two cans. The cake needs to cool upside down so it doesn't deflate. Allow it to cool for at least an hour.
In a small saucepan over low heat, add sliced strawberries, sugar, lemon juice & cornstarch. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, & cook for 6-8 minutes or until mixture has thickened. Remove from heat.
Lime Cream Cheese Spread
In a small dish, beat together cream cheese, lime juice & powdered sugar until smooth & creamy.
Grilled Cheese Assembly
Slice angel food loaf into 8-inch slices. In a shallow container, whisk together 2 cups milk or half & half, 2 eggs & 1/4 tsp cinnamon.
Soak cake slices in milk/egg mixture for a couple of minutes, then cook on a griddle (or skillet) like you would with French toast. When the slices are golden on both sides, divide cream cheese spread between four of the slices. When cheese is warm & melted, top each with one of the remaining four slices.
Place on four serving plates & top with strawberry sauce. Serve warm.
If you like corn, chances are you are also a big fan of cornbread in its many interesting forms. I used to think that cornbread was so good it didn’t need anything extra thrown in the ‘mix’.
Cornbread appeals to all of our senses, a pop and sizzle as batter pours onto a hot griddle, the earthy fragrance that fills the kitchen when its baking. Then there’s the taste …. !! We love what makes us feel good, especially comfort foods that are warm, simple and delicious.
The beauty of cornbread is that it can take on so many different flavors. It can be sweet, savory or as spicy as you would like. Thanks to its simplicity, there are very few food items it wouldn’t pair with, so the limits to cornbread-based culinary creations are endless.
While this isn’t necessarily your classic cornbread it makes a very interesting meal served with a baked potato and some Parmesan zucchini fries.
Ham & Cheese Cornbread Roll
Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a 15 X 10 X 1-inch jelly-roll pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar & baking powder; set aside. With a hand mixer, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff but not dry. Alternately fold in cornmeal mixture & oil; fold in cheddar cheese saving some to sprinkle on top of roll before placing in the oven.
Spread batter evenly in prepared pan & bake for 5-6 minutes (top should spring back when lightly touched with finger; do NOT over bake). Remove from oven & turn bread onto a towel that has been lightly sprinkled with cornmeal. Remove & discard parchment paper. Starting at narrow end, roll bread with towel; set on a wire rack & allow to cool for 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, mash together butter, mustard, onion & Worcestershire sauce until combined & thick. Unroll bread, remove towel & top with ham slices; spread filling mixture over ham & sprinkle with shredded Swiss cheese. Reroll bread & place, seam side down on lined jelly roll pan. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese & bake until cheese is melted, about 5-6 minutes.
A while back, I was speaking with my neighbor, Meg, who told me about an ancient grain I had never known about. It is called Teff. This word originates from the Amharic word ‘teffa’ which means ‘lost’ due to the small size of the grain. An annual bunch grass native to the central highlands of Ethiopia and Eritrea. It can survive both wet and dry climates, high temperatures and bright light as well as not being subject to as many plant diseases as other cereal grains. It’s high nutritional value and reliable cultivation have made it Ethiopia’s most important grain crop. Teff’s size makes it convenient because it doesn’t take a large volume of teff seed to plant a field.
Ground into flour, teff is used to make the traditional bread called ‘injera’, a sourdough risen flatbread with a slightly spongy texture similar to a crepe. It can also be found in many gluten-free options of pancakes, breads, cereals, pie crusts, cookies and other snacks.
Meg had given me a package of ‘authentic‘ teff flour so I was anxious to try it. I noticed a great looking recipe for seeded teff rolls on the computer so I was all set. To compliment the teff rolls I made some shrimp burgers w/ avocado aioli. Nice meal!
Shrimp Burgers on Seeded Teff Buns
Seeded Teff Buns
In a small bowl, whisk together water, yeast, honey, oil & vinegar. Let stand 3-5 minutes or until yeast is dissolved & beginning to proof.
In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients. Add yeast mixture to dry ingredients & mix on low speed until combined. Add in egg whites. Once combined, mix on high speed for 3-5 minutes.
Grease a 9-10 inch round baking pan. Scoop the batter into pan (with a spring release scoop) making about 6 buns. Place rolls right next to each other. Cover & let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 F. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven; cool slightly.
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for shrimp burgers. Form into 4 patties & set on a plate with squares of wax paper between them. Put in fridge until ready to cook.
In a small bowl, Combine all ingredients for avocado aioli until smooth. Cover & set in fridge until ready to use.
In a large skillet, add 3 Tbsp oil & turn heat to medium-high. Gently place shrimp burgers on skillet & cook 3 minutes until golden, flip & cook another 3 minutes.
On each of the sliced, warm teff buns, place a shrimp burger with a generous dollop of avocado aioli. Don't hesitate to add some lettuce & tomato slices if you wish.
This week we celebrate my husband, Brion’s birthday. Family birthdays forever bring me back to my childhood days. My mother always made the birthday person’s favorite meal on their day along with a cake. Although she excelled at cooking in general, her creative talent was put to good use when she decorated our birthday cakes.
Brion has always loved pineapple pie. I’m not sure where it came from but could possibly have been from time spent in the Cook Islands years ago.
In 1950, the Pillsbury company (General Mills) came out with a pie crust mix. Their promotion read that ‘the quality was assured by the finest ingredients, scientifically blended and perfectly balanced’. All you had to do was add water and mix. To further promote their product they included a recipe for Pineapple Pie supposedly having been written by ‘Ann Pillsbury’. This was a fictitious home economist created for marketing purposes. She essentially represented the members of the Pillsbury Home Service department. Unlike Betty Crocker, Ann Pillsbury did not catch on and was replaced in 1965 by the Pillsbury Doughboy who we still see in their current advertising.
My blog recipe is a bit different from the vintage one but is one of Brion’s favorites. Over the last six months, Brion’s love and support have helped me recover from shoulder replacement surgery for which I’m very grateful.
BIRTHDAY WISHES WITH LOVE!
Vintage Pineapple Pie
In a saucepan, combine cornstarch & sugar. Gradually stir in water until mixture is smooth. Add lemon zest & undrained crushed pineapple. Stir constantly over medium heat until mixture starts to boils; reduce heat slightly & continue to boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat; quickly stir in butter & beaten egg yolks, mixing well. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
In a food processor or with a rolling pin, crush biscuits finely & evenly. Melt butter; add to crumbs, mixing well with fork. Press evenly over bottom & up sides of a 9-inch flan or pie pan. Refrigerate crust while filling is cooling.
Preheat oven to 375 F. In a small bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form, gradually add sugar. Beat until sugar is dissolved. Spread filling evenly into crust; top with meringue making sure to spread it to the edge of crust to form a seal.
Bake for about 5-10 minutes or until surface of meringue is evenly golden brown.
It seems Angel Food cake has been around forever. I remember my mother making it from ‘scratch’, having those wonderful farm fresh eggs at her fingertips. It seemed she had no problem at all to bake this very tall, feather light cake even if she was using a wood burning stove and had no control over an exact oven temperature.
Of course today, all we have to do is buy a ready made mix, add some water and there you have it, one big lovely angel food cake.
Brion has always loved this kind of cake, so when I noticed this little recipe on the ninjakitchen.com website, I decided to make a few mini cakes. Of course, these little morsels were gone in no time!
Mini Kiwi Lime Angel Food Cakes
Angel Food cake with fresh fruit what could be more 'guilt free'.
Preheat oven to 325 F. In a small bowl, combine flour with 2 Tbsp sugar. With an electric mixer on high, beat egg whites, vanilla, salt & cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Add 1 tsp lime zest & 1 tsp lime juice. Gradually add remaining 4 Tbsp sugar. Beat on high until mixture is fully incorporated, glossy & stiff peaks are formed. Fold in by hand flour/sugar mixture in thirds until fully combined, keeping batter as voluminous as possible.
Fill a 12 cup silicone mini muffin pan( or non-stick mini muffin pan) with batter. In a shallow baking pan (larger than the mini muffin pan), place a wire rack. Pour water in & set muffin tin over water on rack. Bake for 15 minutes or until cakes rise & a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Remove from oven & let cool.
Stir together remaining lime zest, 3 tsp lime juice & powdered sugar to make glaze. Drizzle on cakes & top with kiwi wedges.
- I think these little minis would be great with any topping you favor. Next time I make them I might try a caramel topping on them.
No doubt the biggest problem vegetable gardener’s have with the squash ‘family’, is it’s frightening productivity even when growing conditions are marginal. It’s growth is so rapid that when heat and moisture are ideal, you could be picking your zucchini daily. That being said, there’s no such thing as too much zucchini in my opinion. A member of the gourd family, its versatility is amazing! From appetizers to dessert, zucchini covers every recipe category.
This Zucchini-Apple Bundt Cake is a healthy veg/fruit combo topped with a refreshing Limoncello Glaze. Authentic limoncello is made from Italian lemons, which come from the Amalfi coast in Italy. Families have passed down recipes for limoncello for generations, as every Italian family has their own recipe. In the winter of 2013, Brion and I spent some time travelling Italy. It was in Sorrento where we tasted limoncello for the first time and loved it.
Zucchini / Apple Bundt Cake with Limoncello Drizzle.
Zucchini, apple & limoncello create an explosion of flavors in this moist bundt cake.
Apple Streusel Filling
Peel & chop apples. In a small bowl, combine apples with remaining filling ingredients & mix well. Set aside. If you prefer, you can cook everything except nuts for 3-4 minutes & then stir in nuts. Cool before adding to cake.
In a large bowl, beat zucchini, sour cream ( or yogurt), sugar, egg whites, oil, egg & vanilla until well blended. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt; gradually beat into zucchini mixture until blended.
Preheat oven to 325 F. Spray & flour a bundt cake pan. Spread 1/3 of the batter in pan; spoon 1/2 of filling carefully over cake. Top with another 1/3 of cake batter then remaining filling, finishing with last 1/3 of cake batter.
Bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool for 5-10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
In a small dish, mix together powdered sugar & limoncello liqueur. When cake is cool, drizzle slowly over top.