Coconut Rice Pudding

IMG_3552

So I stayed up all night yesterday watching recipe videos in a sinking spiral of late-night nausea and deepening depression that only emerges at 2 a.m., alone in bed, when there’s no one to keep you company but the bright computer screen. One good thing I came away with though: a hunkering desire to make rice pudding. Creamy, milky, sweet pudding with a soft consistency and an occasional bite from the rice. With a little big of egg and vanilla to add a custard-y flavor (one of my favorite flavors in the whole world). It’s just so comforting in the most elementary way.

My version conflates two different recipes and, as usual, left me with some kitchen lessons. First one: for the millionth time, Andrea, STOP using orange extract thinking it might be able to replace orange zest. (It won’t. And the fake taste will mercilessly mock you with every bite.) And with arborio rice, the pudding ratio for rice to liquid is approximately 2/3 cup rice for 3 ¾ liquid. The rest of the details are below in the recipe. P.S. the coconut here is very, very subtle. I would add coconut extract if you want the flavor to be stronger.

IMG_3555

Coconut Rice Pudding

If you want an orange flavor:

2/3 cup arborio rice
1 can coconut milk (1 ¾ cups or 14 oz)
1 ¼ water
¾ cup orange juice
Zest of one orange
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3-4 heaping tablespoons sugar (or to taste; just add the tablespoons gradually and taste in between)
1 egg yolk whisked with 1-2 tablespoons milk

If you want just coconut custard flavor:

2/3 cup arborio rice
1 can coconut milk (1 ¾ cups or 14 oz)
2 cups milk (or 1 cup milk, 1 cup water)
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3-4 tablespoons sugar (or to taste; just add the tablespoons gradually and taste in between)
1 egg yolk whisked with 1-2 tablespoons milk

Directions:

1. Pour everything minus the maple syrup and sugar (and zest) into a pan and bring to a boil.
2. Once at a boil, reduce to a simmer and let cook for about 30 minutes.
3. Add sugar and maple syrup (and zest) and keep simmering until it reaches the consistency you want. For me it was when the rice had absorbed as much liquid as it could (most of it) and there was just enough liquid left to bind everything, approx. 15 minutes.
4. Turn off the heat and maybe wait a couple minutes. To thicken the pudding, whisk in the egg yolk mixed with milk slowly. You should end up with a light yellow color. If you’re pudding is already thick enough for your tastes, omit the egg.
5. Refrigerate with plastic wrap covering the surface of the pudding, not the rims of the bowl, to prevent a film from developing. Chill overnight.

*Disclaimer: I played with my recipe while cooking a LOT. I initially only used 1/3 cup of rice and so had to microwave more arborio to add to the mixture. I let it continue cooking until it thickened even more. Ending fact: this recipe gives good guidelines but please do play with the proportions and timing.

Cheddar Biscuits

IMG_0207

I realized today that I have reduced my blog to writing posts for the readers and not myself. Getting a few views from Facebook can only be gratifying for so long. So, I’m going to start writing for myself (and no longer post on Facebook). Stop filtering all the honest things about my feelings and my life, and talk about all of it. And this post, I suppose, is unnecessary, and I should simply start writing the way I want to without any announcements, but then again, I’ve promised myself to regain this blog as my own and I know that I need something like this to motivate myself. I’m hoping that by writing down all my jumbled feelings, eventually I will learn to organize them. Even if this means sacrificing grammar, eloquence and structure. After all, if no one is reading this shit who really cares?

Moving on, let’s talk about cheddar biscuits. These biscuits are good. Cheesy, buttery, light and tender, good. Especially straight out of the oven? Oh man, it was hard not to eat all of them, although I did a good job gobbling down three of them in a row, all without pause. The cheddar is strewn throughout but never overpowers the biscuit, and the dough is tender and soft. For the next few days, my mom and I kept eating them as breakfast, as lunch sandwiches, as snacks – basically in any way we could create an excuse for. And the visual testimony to how good they are? The visible flecks of butter studded across the dough.

IMG_0191

Yeah, it’s that kind of recipe. Enjoy.

Cheddar Biscuits

Recipe adapted from Food52 (found HERE)

Servings: 20 biscuits

Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
9 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 3/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg

Directions:

1. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Stick it in the fridge for 20 minutes. While waiting, cut the butter into small chunks and let them warm to room temperature.

IMG_0186

2. Combine the dry ingredients, the cheese and butter in the bowl and mix until the chunks of butter are no bigger than pea-sized. If you have a standing mixer, do this in the mixer bowl on low speed until you achieve the same results.

IMG_0183

IMG_0187

3. Add the buttermilk and mix (on low) until the dough just comes together – don’t over mix. Transfer the dough onto a floured board, flour your hands and knead it lightly a few times. Then pat the dough into a large rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.

IMG_0190

4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Then, use a 3-inch round cutter or simply use a cup, dip whichever you are using (I used a cup) into flour and then cut the biscuits. According to the original recipe you’re not supposed to twist the cutter or cup but I did.

IMG_0194

5. After cutting out the first batch, pat together the remaining dough into another 1/2 inch thick shape and cut more. Throw away the leftover bits or use them – the recipe advises against a third shaping which will make the biscuits tough.

6. Beat the egg with a small splash of water and brush the tops of the biscuits with the egg wash.

7. Bake the biscuits for 20 minuteson baking sheets lined with parchment paper, rotating them halfway through. Serve them warm (or I enjoyed them still piping hot and steaming).

IMG_0198

IMG_0205

Caramel Banana French Toast

It’s the night before until I leave for school and what time was passing by in painful slow motion is suddenly moving too fast. Way, way too fast. My usual case of jitters are starting to form and anxiety is starting to pump through my blood.

With my sleeping schedule royally screwed (5 a.m. bedtimes, 2 p.m. “mornings”) and my furniture situation for the new apartment room still up in the air, I could not be less prepared for a full school year.

Yet this month has been a time when I’ve finally felt emotionally okay. My fierce uncomfortableness with being alone has subsided and the dissatisfaction I used to feel with my life is gradually transforming into hope, hope for a better year and hope for a happier soul. Ironically, knowing I’m in a good place is making me all the more nervous for the school year. I can feel the expectations I have to live up to closing in on me. Self-created expectations that are just waiting to poison my budding optimism before it gets to set root.

Expectations to enjoy my time. Expectations to be happy. Expectations to be mature, enviable, productive, successful. It’s a tall order.

Trying to live up to self-expectations is unbelievably daunting, and now that I’ve lived through it, I’ve realized, a ridiculous way to go through life.

It’s taken 20 years to absorb this knowledge and finally put it into real practice. And admittedly, it’s still a work in progress. But hey, at least the train is moving.

Caramel Banana French Toast

Ingredients:

1 slice of white bread, sliced into fours. You can use any kind of bread, I suggest brioche if you can find some.

1 egg, beaten

3/4 teaspoon sugar

1 dash of cinnamon

A pat of butter

1/2 banana sliced

Enough sugar to evenly coat the bottom of a small sturdy pot or heavy-duty pan.

Directions:

1. Soak bread into the beaten egg (into which you’ve mixed your 3/4 tsp. sugar and cinnamon) in a bowl. Let it soak for a few minutes and make sure each side is evenly coated by egg.

2. Heat a pan to medium-low heat and melt your pat of butter. Place each piece of bread down.

3. While the french toast cooks, pour enough sugar to evenly coat the bottom of your pot. Put the heat to low and do not touch the sugar. It will slowly melt and turn a light amber color. Once the edges start to brown, start dragging the sugar towards the center to make sure there are no burnt spots. (Keep a watch on the french toast and flip when the first side is done). Slowly stir and keep a constant watch until it turns into a medium amber. Toss in the bananas and coat with the caramel.

4. Plate the french toast and pour over the caramel-coated bananas. In a clean, dry pan, quickly toast a few chopped walnuts and sprinkle over the french toast. Enjoy!