When I moved into an apartment and started living alone for the first time in 10 years, my subconscious assumed that I’d tumble into the single-person stigmatas of cereal for most meals, take out for all the others, and a refrigerator devoid of goodness. Silly subconscious.
Occasionally, I have a solid meal of wine, cheese, crackers and all the other delicious little nibbles that come w/that but, for the most part, I’m cooking more now than I ever have before. So much so that I have to spread the goods out all over w/care packages for the neighbors, impromptu dinner parties with friends, and into the scads of Tupperware containers acquired so that I could take all the ideas and put them to good use.
In the coming weeks, my colleagues Allen Lim + Biju Thomas are coming out with a new cookbook all about the importance of eating together and sharing meals. Commonsality, its called; the notion that eating and drinking at the same table is a fundamental social activity, which creates and cements relationships. It also sets boundaries, including or excluding people according to a set of criteria defined by the society. This idea runs through my head often when I’m in the kitchen, working something out in the wee hours. Sharing a meal is one of the most intimate experiences you can have with another person. But it turns out that cooking from your heart is one of the most intimate experiences you can have with yourself as well, and so in a time when you’d think I’d have the propensity to feel alone, there’s a whole lotta love – for life anew, for food, and for the people in my world – all around. It’s exciting to uncover what new flavors turn me on, what new combinations come pouring out of the cabinets I’ve filled -both with ingredients fresh from the market, and things I’ve gathered on my travels the past years. Spices, special honeys, teas, salts and herbs all come pouring out in completely new ways. It’s so cool to go with the flow, to feel out what my hands and palate are craving, to peel back the layers of my creative brain, and see food + life in a new light.
So I’m keeping a journal of all the things I’m cooking; whether its a simple salad w/poached eggs on top or new recipes for soups, tarts, ice creams….you name it that I make up with whatever is on my mind. A few nights ago, I had friends over for a new favorite kim chi soup served over steamed rice. The leftover soup lasted for days, but the leftover rice wouldn’t keep that long…I had some chinese-five spice powder I picked up in Turkey some time ago, and had some citrus salt living on the counter…and so this little rice pudding was born. It’s a sultry, sweet, and pretty luxurious way to start your winter morning.
This little pudding: If you hunt for rice pudding recipes, you’ll find that many of them call for you to cook the rice in the process. This recipe calls for cooked rice, and is the perfect use for leftover rice as I had. You can adjust the recipe to fit the amount of rice you have on hand. I’ve made a batch of the pudding, storing it in little glass jars and then pulling a little jar from the fridge at will. It made for a tasty little late night snack when we’d been out late celebrating the New Year, and makes an even better breakfast. (For breakfast, I typically add a few tablespoons of oats and a bit of water, then warm it up and top w/ sliced pears, pomegranate seeds, cacao nibs, a dollop of cashew butter and a bit of cinnamon and milk. Voila!) Storing it in each jar also makes it easy-as-pie to port it wherever you need to go. One more thing: I’ve written the recipe below for 2 cups of rice and an equal amount of milk but because you can make a batch equal to whatever amount of rice you have on hand, there are fewer specifics with how to season the pudding. A lot of the flavor needs to be dialed to your particular tastes and preferences so be brave, taste as you go and make this rice pudding your own.
I’m eating a bowl of it for late breakfast as the snow falls, plotting something delicious for the weekend. Hope this recipe helps you do the same! – xo L
- 2 cups cooked sushi rice (or whatever quantity you have on hand)
- 2 cups almond milk or coconut milk (or an amount equivalent to your amount of rice)
- **you want equal amounts of rice and milk here!
- Juice of one lemon
- coconut oil
- citrus salt (link above) or Maldon salt)
- juice and zest of one Meyer lemon
- 1/4 cup good quality honey
- Chinese-Five Spice Blend (I used 1/2 tsp for 2 cups rice)
- ground cinnamon (roughly 1 tsp)
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- sliced fruits, pomegranate seeds, nuts, dollops creamy yogurt...sky is the limit! My favorite are a combination of pears, kumquats, pomegranate seeds, cashew butter, cacao nibs and splash of milk.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the rice and the milk over medium heat. Stir until boiling, allow to simmer until nearly all of the milk has been absorbed. Then remove from heat and begin to flavor to your tastes adding just pinches or tablespoons of ingredients as you go with a spatula, tasting as you go.
- First, I suggest adding a dollop of coconut oil followed by dollops of honey, salt, vanilla seeds and the juice and zest of the lemon. This will make the rice pudding immediately sweet, round and bright. Then, proceed to add Chinese Five Spice, cinnamon and more salt to taste. I like my rice pudding to be very spiced and quite sweet, but you may like yours to be less so.
- The rice pudding can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.