Egg-in-the-hole will forever remind me of summer camp. When I eat grapefruit I’m still taken back to nursing school, where I put myself through one of those ‘eat a half grapefruit before every meal’ diets. The diet faded, but the memory lasted.
You have food that does that to you, don’t you? It brings back some positive memories; some not so much.
For me, the not so much is rice pudding. It’s not the memory itself that is the negative, but the fact that the rice pudding weaves itself over, and over and over throughout that memory.
It was the year that our family moved to Beirut, Lebanon because my father accepted the position of president of a university there. Soon after our arrival, my mom suffered the double whammy of pancreatitis and a massive gallbladder attack and had to be hospitalized.
Since my Dad had just taken on this new position with huge responsibilities, we spent the first month of our time in Lebanon at a camp in the mountains. I had no idea of the stress and and what a hard time this was on my parents.
Instead, while Mom lay in a hospital in agonizing pain and recuperating from surgery and Dad tried to learn the ropes of university presidency while spending time with her and caring for us, I spent the month oblivious; roaming the woods, finding the big pine cones with sweet pine nut meats inside them, terrorizing the staff and enjoying everything that comes from being a kid at camp.
Except for the rice pudding. Of all the food I ate there, I only remember the rice pudding. Because we ate a lot of it. At every single meal. At room temperature. I can not tell you how I grew to loathe the stuff.
Apparently my mother felt the same way because I don’t remember eating rice pudding at all throughout my childhood, even after we returned to the States (thanks Mom).
But here I am with a dish of rice pudding sitting in front of me. A part of me wants to go for the dramatic and say that I don’t know why I made it, but I do. I made it because of that caramel drizzled on top. In the Donna Hay magazine it looks like caramel on top of vanilla ice cream. It looks so delicious.
So, here I sit. I haven’t eaten it yet. I have no idea if time has allowed my tastes to change or not. I guess we’ll find out together.
As simple as boiling rice in milk, then adding a bit more milk and cream when you’re done.
If you don’t want to spend the money on a vanilla bean, feel free to use a teaspoon of vanilla extract instead. Do this especially if you don’t know if you like rice pudding. Or if you didn’t and want to see if you do now.
I can’t say that rice pudding will ever top my list of desserts or that I would order this at a restaurant. But I can say that I didn’t loathe it. In fact, I ate about a half serving and enjoyed the taste. The texture thing still gets to me though.
What does that mean? If you’re a rice pudding fan, you’ll love this. It’s creamy and vanilla-y with all that wonderful caramel on top. You should make this.
If you’re weird like me and rice in anything except a bowl of rice reminds you of maggots, shy away from this dessert. I know, I know, I said maggots in a food review. That’s bad.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 4 cups milk
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
- ½ cup half and half
- 1 cup milk, extra
- 1 can dulce de leche or caramel filling
- ⅓ cup half and half, extra
- Place the rice, milk, sugar, vanilla beans and seeds in a medium sauce pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 25-30 minutes or until rice is tender.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the cream and extra milk. Place in a bowl and refrigerate 2-3 hours until chilled.
- Place the dulce de leche and extra cream in a bowl and whisk to combine. Spoon the caramel over the rice pudding to serve.
- Serves 4.
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