Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Arborio Rice Pudding with Bay Leaves! #recipe from @LeslieBudewitz

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: “Nobody uses bay leaves anymore,” a crusty old friend said to me decades ago as we passed a bay bush while walking in his West Seattle neighborhood. I immediately protested. “I do. Every time I make soup.” What he actually meant was that he didn’t use them anymore, because at past ninety, he didn’t cook from scratch.

A bay leaf, any cook knows, is a soup lover’s best friend. And in The Solace of Bay Leaves (out in ebook and audio on July 21; in paper October 20), Pepper and her Flick Chicks pals do a soup exchange when they meet for movie night. (The movie? Tampopo, of course!)

But as you’ve no doubt noticed, it’s not soup weather in the Northern Hemisphere these days. I’ll share a few soup recipes from the book this fall, but there are ways to use bay in warm weather, too. Whether fresh or dried, the leaf needs the heat of cooking to release its flavors, but this is doesn’t take too much cooking and could easily be made early in the day if you don’t want to turn on the stove at five p.m., although it is best warm. And while I sympathize with Pepper’s customer who is confused by the instruction in a cookbook to use only Turkish bay and not even consider California bay – the exchange was sparked by a recipe I read, which sent me off exploring – I have both and don’t taste much difference. Use whatever you have.

Yes, that seems like a lot of milk for not so much rice. Trust me. Arborio rice is short-grained and starchy, and it takes a lot of liquid. Whole or two percent work equally well.

I took these pictures when I made the pudding a few months ago and topped the bowls with dried cherries. That’s great in winter, but this time of year, use fresh berries or fresh, diced peaches for a sweet, smooth, slightly-herby taste of summer!

Arborio Rice Pudding with Bay

1/2 cup Arborio rice
4 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split
1-2 bay leaves, fresh or dried
1/2 pint berries or dried fruit for topping

Place all the ingredients except the berries in a large saucepan. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally to keep the rice from sticking to the pan, about 35 minutes. Taste the rice to check for doneness. The rice should be very soft and plump.

Take the pudding off the heat. Pour into individual dessert bowls and stir in fresh berries, or other dried or fresh fruit. Best served warm, but leftovers refrigerate nicely.

Order a book from an indie -- online or locally -- then pop over to my Facebook Author page and tell me what you ordered and from where, with a link to the bookseller if you can. When this chaos ends, I'll pick one reader to win a book of mine or a gift card.

From the cover of THE SOLACE OF BAY LEAVES, Spice Shop Mystery #5, coming July 21, 2020 in e-book and audio, in paperback October 20 (Seventh St. Books and Tantor Audio): 

Pepper Reece never expected to find solace in bay leaves. 

But when her life fell apart at forty and she bought the venerable-but-rundown Spice Shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, her days took a tasty turn. Now she’s savoring the prospect of a flavorful fall and a busy holiday cooking season, until danger bubbles to the surface ... 

Between managing her shop, worrying about her staff, and navigating a delicious new relationship, Pepper’s firing on all burners. But when her childhood friend Maddie is shot and gravely wounded, the incident is quickly tied to an unsolved murder that left another close friend a widow. 

Convinced that the secret to both crimes lies in the history of a once-beloved building, Pepper uses her local-girl contacts and her talent for asking questions to unearth startling links between the past and present—links that suggest her childhood friend may not have been the Golden Girl she appeared to be. Pepper is forced to face her own regrets and unsavory emotions, if she wants to save Maddie’s life—and her own. 

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries, and the winner of Agatha Awards in three categories.  Death al Dente, the first Food Lovers' Village Mystery, won Best First Novel in 2013, following her 2011 win in Best Nonfiction. Her first historical short story, "All God's Sparrows," won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story. A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

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  1. I just happen to have a container of Arborio rice in my pantry and love rice pudding, so this recipe is perfect! Thanks ~

  2. Thanks for sharing your recipe today. My mom always used bay leaves in everything she cooked. Yes, even her rice pudding. It just made the dish have a different flavor that was very good. I grew up with bay leaves in a huge container. So that is how I cook also.
    quilting lady 2 at comcast dot net

    1. My pleasure -- what fun to recreate the flavors of your mother's cooking!

  3. I'm intrigued by the idea of bay leaves in pudding.
    Lori says it gives the dish "a different flavor".

    1. It's subtle, and hard to describe. Think of it like using vanilla or almond extract, with a slightly herby taste. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

  4. DH loves rice pudding & tapioca, so we'll be trying this soon! (I made banana pudding for a cool dessert tonight) I use bay leaves ALL the time; twice last week when I fixed meat sauce for spaghetti, and 2 more in Mexican black beans with chorizo. Today I used some while cooking shrimp in the IP for pasta salad with shrimp.