Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter (portuguese brown rice pudding)

Happy Easter

For our small and quiet Easter dinner I have decided to make Portuguese rice pudding. Chopper has portuguese on both sides of the family and his nana, his paternal great grandmother, used to make rice pudding for the family. Actually, according to Chopper, if you were a meat eater, "nana could turn the equivalent of an old sneaker into... deliciouso" (this was said while doing a little dance and rubbing his tummy).

This is the kind of soul food that no matter where your dietary standards lie, there are certain times that they may be set aside, and you will be more nourished. Regardless of the amount of eggs, sugar, or butter.

Unfortunately, "Just like your grandmother used to make" is getting harder and harder to adhere to. Look at this butter for example:The butter on the right is organic and comes from the Organic Valley company, the butter on the left is your standard "all natural" butter from any company, this one happens to be Land O Lakes. Butter is supposed to be this yellow color (just like egg yolks are supposed to be a rich yellow, if not a more orangy yellow color). Just because the butter is organic does not necessarily guarantee it is the most nutritious and will have this nice yellow color. What creates this, is the cows graze in a pasture, as nature intended. Cows get sun, cows get grass (not grain or meal) and cows make healthy, yummy butter. Cows stay pent up, cows get depressed, cows get shot with all kinds of antibiotics and hormones, cows make sick and sickly looking butter.

So the butter, eggs and milk aren't nearly the same as they were in our grandmothers or great grandmothers time. Food, in the last 30 years alone, has changed so much, that it is no wonder so many people are sick, we are poisoning ourselves. Something to think about and something to inspire change.

Ok, so enough about the horrors of the dairy industry (this "soul food" meal is supposed to be enjoyed guilt free). On to the rice pudding.... Although I did use brown rice, I wanted to make this somewhat close to what Chopper experienced as a kid, so I used real (Organic) milk, eggs, butter and sugar (sugar in the raw) and lots of love to make up for all the flippin sugar.

1 1/3 Cup Rice
1 1/4 Cup Sugar
4 Cups milk
6 Egg yolks
Zest of 3-4 "unsprayed" lemons (this is a Portuguese recipe, by "unsprayed" they mean Organic)
pinch of salt
ground cinnamon (for top)
pinch of nutmeg
6 Tb butter
splash of vanilla

Boil rice in sauce pan 3 cups of water for 8 minutes.
With rice in saucepan, add milk, butter, vanilla, and sugar.
Bring to low boil. As mixture begins to bubble add in zest and pinches of nutmeg and cinnamon
Cook on low for about 20 minutes (using brown rice, I had to cook for about 45 minutes)
When rice is done, turn off the heat and mix in the yolks and pinch of salt. Pour into a shallow pan and decorate with cinnamon.I started to panic slightly this morning when I realized that I did not have a "zester" than I realized what a zester essentially is, a grater! I also did not have lemons on hand and organic lemons are impossible to find on Block Island so I used organic grapefruit zest instead. I would not suggest doing this necessarily, but if you find yourself in the same predicament, use less. I would like to taste less grapefruit in my rice pudding.This was just fun to look at.

Apparently, in Portuguese culture they tend to sprinkle the cinnamon in a very decorative fashion. Creating ornate patterns like flowers and such. I tried to make an Easter egg design, then ran out of cinnamon. Oh well. I cannot say this could possibly compare to Nana Butterfield's, but Chopper's taste buds have changed since then anyway and he is satisfied with my rendition. In retrospect, I wish I had gone all the way with the white rice, but some habits die hard.


Hannah said...

Is that what Colored eggs look like before you have children?

Madeline said...

Hannah, I was just about to say the same thing! They are beautiful! Not that my kids' weren't, in their own way. ; )

My cousin brought his friend to Easter dinner here last night and she was in the same school with you last year (though didn't know you). I talked about you so much that my cousin finally told me to stop but I am sending his friend (her name is Wendy Brown) your blog address. What a small world.

persephone said...

Cool! Hannah is actually in the program now too. I think "our" small world is growing, how exciting! I wish I knew what Wendy looked like, I probably crossed paths with her at some point. Thanks for the egg compliments, we had alot of fun. We talked about using the vegetable skin dyes next year, we'll see...I like the blues ;)