When You’re Sick: A Spoonful of Rice Pudding Helps the Medicine Go Down

This title may be a bit misleading, since I haven’t been on any medication. And although Mary Poppins is very wise,  a spoonful of rice pudding must be smoother than a spoonful of sugar, so I’m sure it’s actually even better in that regard.
Anyway, at least I feel like my whining earlier was semi-justified — turns out I’ve been sick with mono and an inflamed liver (no booze for me, yay!).  I’m feeling a lot better, but my days have been reduced mostly to going to work and coming home to flop down on the couch; so not much excitement. Luckily for me, I’ve been entertained/taken care of by lovely friends and family who don’t seem to mind hanging out with a sloth, so it’s all good. 
My appetite took a serious nose dive during the last couple of weeks, and since keeping food down was a challenge in itself, I definitely didn’t feel like cooking much.  This rice pudding totally fit my sicky requirements of comfort food, good simple flavours, and yummy at any time of day (since I really wasn’t following any kind of structured meal times!). I’d made this rice pudding a few times before, and now that I know I can make it happily while home sick, I think I can declare this recipe a definite winner. The caramelized bananas give it a special little extra touch, and for the extra five minutes it will take you, are worth it.

Rice Pudding (from The Olive and the Caper: Adventures in Greek Cooking)
3/4 cup short-grain rice, preferable Arborio
6 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
ground cinnamon, for garnish

1) Combine rice, milk, sugar, nutmeg, and salt in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, cover, and reduce the heat to low.  Simmer until rice is tender, about 25 minutes.
2) In a small bowl, beat egg yolks until frothy.  Slowly whisk in several spoonfuls of the rice mixture until the yolks are thin and smooth.  Pour the yolk mixture back into the saucepan.  Continue cooking over low heat until the pudding turns creamy and is thick enough to coat a spoon, about two minutes.
3) Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.  Pour the pudding into individual bowls and top each with a pinc of cinnamon.  Cool to room temperature or refrigerate and serve cold.

The author of the cookbook offers some lovely ideas for add-ins in your rice pudding; she suggests stirring in chopped dried fruit, nuts, or a touch of saffron.  Personally, I love it with a drizzle of maple syrup stirred in.  Honey is tasty, too! If you’re going to top your pudding with caramelized bananas, make them just before serving the pudding.

Caramelized Bananas
2 bananas, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
optional: a splash of lemon juice, orange juice, dark rum, whatever you have on hand

Melt the butter over medium heat in a skillet. Add the sugar and stir until a caramel syrup is formed.  Add the bananas, and stir them around a couple times until they soften and are coated in the caramel, this should only take a few minutes.  Serve warm on top of the pudding, and if you have any left over caramel in the pan you should definitely use that, too!

Bon appetit!


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