Monday, August 3, 2009

Jasmine Infused Rice Pudding (or Forgive me, Please)

When it rains, it pours.

My husband and I fought not once, not twice, but five times last week. Each fight was louder than the last, and became about dumber things as the days dragged by. For those of you who have a spouse, you know what I mean--most of us in our single lives would never imagine fighting about a laundry machine dial. But you do. And somehow, life goes on.

Some say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, and my husband is no exception. Give him something fried or laced with bacon, and he will swoon. Knowing this, whenever we have a fight I usually cook those very things to seek forgiveness. But this time I wanted to do something that showed a little more love and sacrifice.

As I flipped through my trusty Martha Stewart cookbook (yes, yes...I graduated from culinary school but I still adore her recipes), I saw a recipe that made me wince:

Jasmine Rice Pudding.

Don't get me wrong, it has nothing to do with Martha Stewart or the beautiful flavor of jasmine. I winced because I HATE rice pudding. Absolutely hate it. I never understood why anyone would take perfectly good rice and spoil it into a disgusting dessert. But my husband loves it. I knew if I made rice pudding, he would know I did it only for him.

I gave the ingredients list a quick look and as I suspected, I had everything at home. Perfect. I had an hour to whip it up before I had to pick my husband up from the train station.

Jasmine Rice Pudding (adapted from Martha Stewart)
(serves 6 to 8)

1 quart whole milk
1/4 cup jasmine tea leaves (use the real thing, not bagged tea)
3 cups water
1 1/3 cups jasmine rice
1 t kosher salt
1 T unsalted butter
1 1/2 c sugar

1) Heat milk in medium saucepan until hot but not boiling (I turned the heat off when it was almost too hot to the touch). Add the tea leaves. Remove from heat. Cover the saucepan, and steep for 20 minutes; strain milk and set aside.

2) Rice cooker method: Make rice as you normally would with the called for amount of jasmine rice/water/salt above.

Non-rice cooker method: In a medium pot, bring the water to a boil. Stir in the rice and salt. Reduce heat to low; cover, and cook until rice is tender and liquid has disappeared (about 15-20 min).

3) When the rice is ready, stir in the flavored milk, butter and one-half cup of the sugar (I emphasize this because you don't want to throw it all in right now) into rice. Cover, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved and pudding is thick, about 30 min.

4) Spoon the rice pudding into dessert dishes (I used ramekins). Lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of each pudding to prevent a skin from forming, then transfer dishes into the fridge.

5) Place the remaining cup of sugar in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Cook without stirring until amber in color, about 10-15 minutes. Pour caramel over top of each pudding, and serve immediately.

Verdict? Let's just say I took a tentative bite before serving it to my husband and my eyes widened in surprise. I actually really liked it! I've had rice pudding in fine dining restaurants before (when my husband ordered it of course) and didn't even like it then. This Martha Stewart recipe helped me appreciate the dessert in a new light.

One difference for this, I believe, is that the rice for this recipe was cooked perfectly al dente. Most rice puddings I've tried in the past were either mushy or hard, whether it was Rice to Riches in NYC or a triple-digit restaurant. I also thought the amount of sweetness was perfect--it wasn't overwhelming and balanced well with the subtle jasmine. But the aroma of infused jasmine tea leaves was the amazing part--I didn't think such a delicate flavor would work for a hearty dessert, but it did, and beautifully at that.

So what did the husband think? He liked it of course ("SO GOOD," he said), though he thinks the rice pudding he makes is up to par. Potentially another fight in the making? Maybe. But until then, we're living happily ever after together...with our ramekins of rice pudding.


ABowlOfMush said...

I love the flavor of jasmine, this sounds like a real treat!

Monkee said...

i'm a bit apprehensive when it comes to rice pudding. coming from asia, we've always have rice to accompany something savoury like stir fry or curry. so sweet and rice is like... blek* to me. i won't diss it till i try it so if you've given your thumbs up on this recipe, perhaps it's something i should try as well.
oh... and, i'm glad u and hubby have patched up too. :)