Showing posts with label rice pudding. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rice pudding. Show all posts

Friday, December 23, 2016

Reisbrei (Rice Pudding) with Cinnamon-Apple Compote for Food 'n Flix December Pick: Krampus {#FoodnFlix}

Christmas is certainly the time for heartwarming holiday classic movies--heck, the Hallmark Channel devotes weeks and weeks to them. But, if you were hoping for a sweet, classic holiday movie for this month's Food 'n Flix pick, you will be disappointed as December's pick Krampus is more campy horror than cozy Christmas. Our Food 'n Flix founder, Heather of All Roads Lead to the Kitchen is the host for this month's holiday fright fest and you can see her announcement post here.

I first became familiar with the Krampus legend after hearing Austrian actor Christoph Waltz (I find him a bit intense and scary anyway, even before he starts talking about Krampus) explain it to Jimmy Fallon a couple of years ago. Krampus is a traveling companion for Father Christmas in Central European folklore, a horned, half-goat/half demon who takes care of the bad children by punishing them. Watch the video clip below for Waltz's description of Krampus.

Krampus, the 2015 movie is what happens when the legend comes to life. In short, the Engel family (mom, dad, two kids & grandma) are already having Christmas spirit issues when their relatives (sister, brother-in-law, four kids + tag-along grumpy aunt) arrive to celebrate the holidays. Because of their bad behavior and lack of the holiday spirit, Krampus arrives to terrorize them. (You can read a full summary here.)

Although there are a few parts that I would call mildly scary (or more than mildly scary if you have a fear of clowns, dolls and/or giant toys come to life), Krampus is more dark, campy humor than truly frightening. I am a fan of both Adam Scott and Toni Collette who play the Engel parents, so although I doubt I will make it an annual Christmas tradition, Krampus made for an entertaining evening with some popcorn and hot cocoa.

There is not a ton of food to be found in Krampus but there is some--like the Christmas Eve (or is it Christmas Eve, Eve?) dinner which includes salmon gravlax, crême brulée, and some sort of mac-n-cheese and hot dog casserole. There are candy canes, a variety of cookies--including gingerbread men made by Omi (grandma), and hot chocolate (which Omi says "makes everything better" (although I don't think she was talking about a visit from Krampus), eggnog, bread, and more hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps (that might make everything at least a little better!).  

For my movie-inspired dish I decided to veer from the food shown in the film and make a German comfort food dish in honor of Omi and the Krampus legend, because if Krampus decides to visit on Christmas Eve you are going to want comfort food. To me, rice pudding, called Reisbrei (Rice Porridge) in some parts of Germany, is the epitome of comfort food. 

Creamy, sweet and homey, it is often eaten with fresh or canned fruit, fruit compote or apple sauce. I decided to make a Cinnamon-Apple Compote for my reisbrei and to include dried cherries in the pudding and compote for color and toasted sliced almonds for texture. 

Reisbrei (Rice Pudding) with Cinnamon-Apple Compote
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(6 Generous Servings)

1 cup medium grain rice
1 quart coconut milk + about 1 cup extra coconut milk or creamer
1/4 cup honey 
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
dried cherries (optional)
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
Cinnamon-Apple Compote (recipe below)

In a medium-large saucepan, place rice, 1 quart coconut milk, honey, and salt. Cook slowly over medium-low heat until rice grains are tender but have not lost their shape (about 45 minutes), stirring occasionally and adding more coconut milk or creamer as needed if mixture gets too dry/solid. Mixture should be thick and very creamy. If using raisins, stir them in for the last 10-15 minutes of cooking time. Add almond and vanilla extract and taste for sweetness--adding more honey if needed.

To serve, place in individual dessert glasses or a bowl. Place the Cinnamon-Apple Compote in the center of the bowl to top the pudding


Cinnamon-Apple Compote
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 2 Cups)

1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 Honeycrisp apples, cored and chopped 
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch sea salt

Heat a medium pan over medium-high heat, add the butter, apples, lemon juice, brown sugar and cinnamon. Reduce heat and simmer medium until the apples are tender and the juices thicken to a thin syrup, about 10 to 15 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt

Notes/Results: I will admit to having a lot of rice pudding recipes on the blog (this one makes 10) which is kind of strange because I always thought rice pudding was pretty icky until just a few years ago when I discovered how much I actually like it. This one, with the flavorful cinnamon-apple topping in the sweet and cinnamony pudding, is particularly good. Lots of flavor with the tart dried cherries and the tart/sweet Honeycrisp apples, along with the almonds that add a nice toasty crunch. Enjoyed warm, it's definitely a comforting and satisfying dessert or breakfast.

The deadline for this round of Food 'n Flix is today, December 23rd and Heather will be rounding up all the dishes on her blog for Christmas. If you missed this round and like food, films and foodie films, join us for January when the film pick is the rom-com French Kiss starring Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Book Tour Stops Here: Review of "The Royal Nanny" by Karen Harper, Served with Nigel Slater's Quick Rice-Pudding Topped with Strawberry-Plum (Chia) Jam

Happy Tuesday! On today's TLC Book Tour we are journeying to Britain and into the nursery of the the British royal family with The Royal Nanny by Karen Harper. Along my review of this (fascinating for Anglophiles and royal watchers) historical novel, I sharing some book-inspired, nursery-style comfort food with a bit of a modern spin, creamy (and vegan) Rice Pudding topped with sweet and tangy Strawberry-Plum Chia Seed Jam.

Publisher's Blurb:

April, 1897: A young nanny arrives at Sandringham, ancestral estate of the Duke and Duchess of York. She is excited, exhausted—and about to meet royalty. . . .

So begins the unforgettable story of Charlotte Bill, who would care for a generation of royals as their parents never could. Neither Charlotte—Lala, as her charges dub her—nor anyone else can predict that eldest sons David and Bertie will each one day be king. Lala knows only that these children, and the four who swiftly follow, need her steadfast loyalty and unconditional affection.

But the greatest impact on Charlotte’s life is made by a mere bud on the family tree: a misunderstood soul who will one day be known as the Lost Prince. Young Prince John needs all of Lala’s love, the kind of love his parents won’t—or can’t—show him.

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 21, 2016)

My Review:

I am a bit of an Anglophile and have long found the British Royal Family fascinating so I had a feeling that I would love The Royal Nanny and I did. I was not acquainted with Charlotte Bill, who was a real person and the much loved Lala of the children of the Royal Family from 1897-1919. The story that Harper tells about her is an absorbing one--a young woman dedicates her life and makes personal sacrifices for service, duty and a great love for the children in her care. There is romance in this historical novel, Charlotte turns down a proposal from Chad, the gamekeeper of Sandringham, as she felt her duty was to the children and a nursemaid or nanny was not allowed the distraction of a "follower at the door." But really the love story here is about Lala and her charges, especially the youngest child, Prince John (called Johnny by the family) and whom she bonded with as a sickly baby and cared for him throughout his life, fighting to keep him with her and the family as he developed epilepsy and it grew in severity. His epilepsy and his often unusual behavior, which would likely be diagnosed as some form of autism today, were misunderstood and feared at the time and for a Royal Family struggling with their image in troubled times, cause for shame and secrecy. One has to credit Lala, both the real person and the book version for her devotion to Johnnie and to the other five royal children including those that the world knows better--David (who became King Edward VIII, before abdicating the throne for Wallis Simpson--something that greatly angered Lala, along with his treatment of Johnny) and Bertie (who later became King George VI, father of the current Queen and who will ever be Colin Firth in my mind after The King's Speech). The book focuses mostly on Lala's years of service, but there is an epilogue that tells us what Charlotte did after (which I would have loved even more of and would root for a sequel).

The Royal Nanny is my first book from Karen Harper, author of many contemporary suspense and historical novels, but I am confident that it won't be my last. Her vivid descriptions of the times and life in a royal household brought me fully into the story and characters. I couldn't help but love Lala and reading her perspective about the family, The Great War, the Romanov family, and other famous people and events was absorbing and turned what might be a quiet close to 400 pages into a bit of a page-turner. Keeping track of all of the royals and their many names, both given and chosen, is an effort and I longed for a family tree before finally finding a list of the names and titles of the main characters in the back of the book. (Next time I will check there first before Googling!) ;-) Unless you are a true expert, you will likely learn something new about the Royal Family and the time period, and be inspired to look further (the author gives plenty of suggestions for further reading and viewing in her afterword) which to me is always the mark of a good historical novel. Definitely recommended.  


Author Notes: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Karen Harper is a former Ohio State University instructor and high school English teacher. Published since 1982, she writes contemporary suspense and historical novels about real British women. Two of her recent Tudor-era books were bestsellers in the UK and Russia. Harper won the Mary Higgins Clark Award for Dark Angel, and her novel Shattered Secrets was judged one of the best books of the year by Suspense Magazine.
Find out more about Karen at her website, and connect with her on Facebook.


Food Inspiration: 

Although not completely food-filled, there is food to be found in The Royal Nanny between the nursery, teas, and dinners with the Royal Family. There is plenty of tea of course, biscuits, grapes, muffins with jam and milk, porridge, little sponge cakes, cherry tarts, scones like raspberry, apple cinnamon, currnt and blackberry, and Lala's favorite-scones with strawberries and clotted cream, roast goose, plum pudding, and slabs of bread with honey. There was a luncheon of cold salmon pâté, pigeon pie, tomato salad, haricots verts, Russian salad, jellies, tortes and cakes, pineapple ice cream, and raspberry sorbet and another ladies lunch with cold meats, asparagus tips, cucumber-egg sandwiches, cheese canapés with pickles, a salmagundi salad with spring flowers round its rim (a salmagundi is sort an old-school chef salad), and sponge cake with lemon sauce. There was Queen Alexandra's sixty-fifth birthday cake--six tiers with crystal bowls of goldfish next to the pillars between each layer, and an eight-course menu including; oysters and stewed trout, green pea or grouse soup, poached salmon with cucumber and mousseline sauce, mutton, roast ducking, parmentier potatoes, roast partridge squab, pâté de foie gras, cheese tarts and peaches in chartreuse jelly.

I was intrigued with the mention of Prince George's daily lunch--a fish dish intriguingly called Bombay Duck, but it was not duck and instead was a "crisp-fried and highly-seasoned fish imported from India." But what called to me the most was rice pudding which the children found to be a treat. Once Lala discovers the head nanny's mental illness and her mistreatment of the boys, she reports it and the head nanny is removed and Lala and her hungry charges have it for tea while waiting for their baby sister to be born.

"Less than an hour later, I sat with David and Bertie in the day nursery eating our generous tea of biscuits, jam, porridge, milk--tea for me--and, to the delight of the boys, rice pudding." 
-Charlotte Bill, The Royal Nanny by Karen Harper

I did not like rice pudding as a child but have developed a fondness for it the past few years. (There are eight recipes for it if you look at the tab on my side bar!) ;-) It's warm, comforting and seems like the perfect thing for two little boys, seeking love and acceptance and finding it with their loving and protective nanny.

There was not a description of the rice pudding enjoyed by Lala, David and Bertie. I suspect it may have been a classic baked style but I decided to consult with one of the masters of British nursery food, Nigel Slater and found several recipes. Being that it is summer--his 20-Minute Rice Pudding, made on the stove and being relatively quick--without a lot of fuss, appealed to me the most. I switched out the milk, cream, and butter for non-dairy versions (making this a vegan version) and reduced the sugar because coconut milk has it own sweetness, and I planned to top the pudding with a sweet and tangy summery jam. (My changes to the recipe are in red below.)  

My favorite part of rice pudding is stirring things into it--like fresh or dried fruit, or nuts, so jam, often accompanying biscuits and scones in the British nursery, seemed like a fun choice. Another modernization, I make chia seed jam because of the ease and the nutritional benefits the chia seeds add (I have also made and posted a few other chia seed jams--blackberry, cinnamon-peach, and plum if you want to see other versions), and since I had both fresh strawberries and black plums on hand, I thought mixing them would be tasty.

20-Minute Rice Pudding
Adapted from Nigel Slater via
(Serves 4)

8 heaped Tbsp arborio rice
300ml (about 10 oz) milk (I used coconut milk)
300ml (about 10 oz) double cream (I used coconut milk + coconut creamer)
vanilla pod, split in half lengthways or 1 tsp vanilla extract (I used 2 tsp vanilla paste)
6 Tbsps water
large knob of butter (I used non-dairy butter)
4 Tbsps caster sugar (I used 1 Tbsp coconut sugar)

Put the rice in a medium-sized, heavy-based pan, then pour in the milk, cream, vanilla pod or extract and water. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then turn down the flame until the milk is bubbling gently. 

 Let it cook for 15-20 minutes. Add the butter, no more than an ounce, whip out the vanilla pod, and stir in the sugar. When the sugar has dissolved, the pudding is ready.

Strawberry-Plum Chia Seed Jam
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 3 1/2 cups of jam)  

2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
4 medium plums, peeled, pitted and chopped (I used black plums)
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tsp vanilla extract 
 1 tsp cinnamon 
2 Tbsp maple syrup, or to taste depending on the sweetness of your fruit & preferences
1/3 cup chia seeds

Place chopped strawberries and plums, maple syrup, lemon juice, orange juice, vanilla extract and cinnamon into a medium-large saucepan and heat over medium-high heat, stirring as fruit begins to liquefy and mixture comes to a gentle boil. Taste and add maple syrup, to your desired sweetness level (I added about 2 Tbsp). 

Reduce heat to medium-low and allow fruit to simmer for 20-25 minutes until it breaks down and starts to get saucy, breaking up the chinks with a wooden spoon or potato masher as preferred. (Note--I like a chunkier jam so I cook it about 20 minutes and mostly leave the small chunks that are left. If you like a smoother consistency, cook jam about 30 minutes and break up the chunks with a fork or potato masher.) Taste for sweetness and add more maple syrup if desired.

Reduce heat to low and slowly stir in chia seeds--making sure the seeds are mixed thoroughly into the fruit mixture and don't clump. Cook for another 4-5 minutes. Jam will begin to thicken (and it will thicken much more as it cools) but if it seems too thin, you can add additional chia seeds. 

Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the jam to thicken and cool to room temperature. When cooled, place in jar(s) and place in the fridge. Jam will keep tightly-covered in the refrigerator for a few weeks and in the freezer for a few months--if it lasts that long. 

Notes/Results: Yum! This is the second time I have used risotto rice in rice pudding (the first being Ellie Krieger's version) and it certainly makes a quicker and creamier pudding. I still love the chewiness and extra bit of fiber from brown rice pudding--however, arborio rice does make a wonderful occasional indulgence. The milk and cream in this version (coconut milk and creamer in my case) certainly add to the luxuriousness of the texture and a small portion is very satisfying. For a humble dish, it does feel like a treat. The jam was a nice contrast of sweetness from the strawberries and a little bit of tangy from the plums. I like my jams chunky as a rule and knowing I was going to use this one as rice pudding topping, I left it a little extra chunky, with lots of small fruit pieces. You could of course break the fruit down even more (I like to use a potato masher) but finding the fruit bites in the pudding is always enjoyable. I would happily make both of these recipe again. 

I am linking this post up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where it is Potluck week. The time to make any recipe from our current featured chef or any of the previous IHCC chefs (like Nigel Slater). You can see what everyone made by following the picture links on the post. 

I'm also linking up this review and recipe to the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post

Note: A review copy of "The Royal Nanny" was provided to me by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ellie Krieger's Very Vanilla Rice Pudding

Rice pudding is the 'ultimate comfort food' according to Ruth Reichl and I have to agree. it makes a great breakfast, snack, or dessert when you need something that warms and fills your soul as much as it warms and fills your belly. This non-dairy Very Vanilla Rice Pudding by Ellie Krieger, is the eighth rice pudding I have posted on the blog (including four from former I Heart Cooking Clubs featured chefs Jamie Oliver, Rick Bayless, Madhur Jaffrey, and Diane Henry). Since this week's IHCC theme is Cinnamon & Sugar, it seemed like the perfect time to try Ellie's version. I made a few changes to the recipe (noted in red below) and I added some holiday dazzle by adding dried cranberries to the pudding itself and then topping it with pomegranate seeds and pistachios. 

Ellie says, "This pudding is intoxicatingly fragrant and flavorful, offering a big dose of comforting deliciousness. Aborio rice, the same kind used in risotto, lends a thick creaminess to this pudding without the addition of any cream, while the vanilla soy milk imparts a richer flavor and texture than regular milk."

Very Vanilla Rice Pudding 
Slightly Adapted from The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger
(Serves 4-6

2 cups water
1 cup Arborio rice
3 cups vanilla soy milk (I used unsweetened vanilla coconut milk)
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I used 1 tsp)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon + more for dusting
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg + more for dusting (I replaced nutmeg with more cinnamon)
(I added 2 Tbsp dried cranberries)
(I added chopped pistachio nuts & pomegranate arils to garnish)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. (See note in red below)

Bring the water to boil in a medium, heavy, ovenproof saucepan. Add the rice, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the rice is nearly cooked, about 20 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the soy milk, sugar and salt. When the rice is cooked and still hot, add the soy milk mixture and cinnamon stick. Cover, place in the oven, and cook for 45 minutes. (Note: I cooked mine entirely on the stove top {for about 30 minutes} since I was making a half-batch and didn't want to heat up the oven for it. I also added 2 tablespoons of dried cranberries for the last half of the cooking time.)

Remove from the oven, uncover, and remove the cinnamon stick. Stir in the vanilla, ground cinnamon and nutmeg. The pudding will be slightly liquidy; the liquid will continue to absorb into the rice and thicken as the pudding cools. 

Distribute among bowls, dusting with more cinnamon and nutmeg (and other garnishments of choice). Serve warm of at room temperature. The pudding will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for about 3 days.       

Notes/Results: Just a gorgeously creamy bowl of rice pudding goodness. Although I've used brown rice, basmati rice, and regular medium-grain rice before, I had never made rice pudding with aborio rice and the creaminess it adds to the dish is pretty wonderful. I had unsweetened vanilla coconut milk on hand so I used it instead of soy milk and found it slightly richer, adding to the decadent feel of this pudding. Being not a great fan of nutmeg, I just doubled the ground cinnamon--with it and the extra vanilla extract I added, both flavors really came through. I tend to prefer stove top rice puddings and since I was making a small batch this round, I didn't try Ellie's oven method--maybe next time I will give it a whirl. To me, dried fruit and toppings are a must in rice pudding for the pops of flavor and texture they add--like little treasures, turning something humble and slightly plain into a festive treat. I would happily make this again. 

This post is linked to I Heart Cooking Clubs for this week's Cinnamon & Sugar theme. You can see what Ellie Krieger dishes everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Ruth Reichl's (Very Comforting) Sunny Buttery Saffron Rice Pudding (Sholeh Zard) for Cook the Books: "Comfort Me With Apples"

I am hosting the February/March round of Cook The Books, our bi-monthly virtual foodie book club with Comfort Me With Apples: More Adventures at the Table by Ruth Reichl. Comfort Me With Apples covers Ruth's life from 1978 through the late 1980s and her journey from chef to food writer and restaurant critic.

It's a memoir that balances Ruth's passion for food and describing it in vivid detail, with tales of her (at times almost soap-opera-ish) life. It is her incredible food writing that pulls me into her books--although I greatly admire her ability to write so directly about her personal life and drama with such honesty--despite how it might make her come across. I was at a writing workshop last weekend and the author who instructed the afternoon creative non-fiction session said that her editor once told her that in writing her memoir, she should write "like everyone you know is dead"--as if it's 100 years from now, so you can be completely and brutally honest. That to me describes Ruth Reichl's style to a T. While never deliberately unkind to herself and others--whether reviewing a chef/restaurant or describing family or a lover, she doesn't pull any punches. Coupled with her ability to put food to words in such a way that you feel as if you are dining with her, as well as including some of the recipes most meaningful to her experiences at end of each chapter, it makes for an engrossing read.     

One would think that being the host, having selected the book ages ago and having finished (re-reading) it last month, that I could manage to be early with this Cook the Books round but no. It hasn't been an easy couple of months for a variety of reasons and time just seems to slip away, so I find myself slinking in a few days before the deadline as usual. That doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about my entry though. As I was going through the book, none of the recipes or mentions called to me particularly, or if they did, someone else had already made them. I definitely wanted comfort food. Had I not already made it last year for a book review, Ruth's Matzoh Brei would have certainly been a contender. There's also the Massaged Kale Salad with Currants, Pine Nuts & Parmesan inspired by a mention in Ruth's novel Delicious! that has become a healthy-ish comfort dish for me as I make it on a regular basis. 

Wanting to try a different Ruth recipe, I went to her blog. I get my fix of Ruth's writing by periodically cruising through Ruth's Words on her website where she reviews restaurants and talks about dinner parties, various dishes she cooks, and other foodie things. I definitely go there for her words and not the food photography which always makes me smile because well..., it just isn't great. But, do you know what? She is Ruth freaken Reichl!--her words paint the picture of what she eats better than any picture could. ;-) I found a few recipes that I intend on making someday, but it was the recipe for Persian Rice Pudding or Sholeh Zard that most called to me. I agree with Ruth that rice pudding is the ultimate in comfort food (OK, maybe right next to soup), so it seemed perfect for the book.    

Ruth's recipe serves twelve and although I have been in need of serious comfort lately, I didn't need that many servings of sweet rice pudding. I made a small batch--about three servings worth, by adjusting and (mostly) quartering the recipe quantities. I have written the recipe as I have adjusted it below. If you are feeding a crowd, follow the link to the original recipe. 

Ruth says, "Rice pudding is the chicken soup of desserts. Ultimate comfort food, it's an international dish that changes its style as it travels the world. Once again perusing my stack of Time-Life books I came upon another recipe I couldn’t resist: sholeh-zard, or Persian saffron rice pudding. A goldenrod smear on the page suggests I once made this, but I have no memory of it. Intrigued by the saffron - and the fact that this rice pudding contains no milk - I decided to try it. Unlike the two previous recipes I’ve written about here, this one was so sweet and so strongly redolent of rose water that I made a few serious modifications. Trolling around on the internet I found that sholeh-zard is traditionally incredibly sweet; one recipe I found called for three cups of sugar to one cup of rice. And the classic version is so strongly perfumed with rosewater that some recipes call for as much as a cup. But I've made this to my own taste, so it's less sweet and less perfumed. It is also, in my opinion, very delicious." 

Sunny Buttery Saffron Rice Pudding (Sholeh Zard)
Adapted from Ruth  
(Ruth's Recipe Serves 12 -- Reduced Below to Serve 3)
2 cups water
1/4 cup basmati rice, rinsed and soaked
pinch of salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 pinch saffron threads, pulverized with a mortar and pestle or the back of a spoon, and dissolved in 1 Tbsp water
1 scant Tbsp rose water, or to taste
2 Tbsp slivered blanched almonds
1 Tbsp slivered or finely chopped unsalted pistachios
1 tsp cinnamon (garnish)

In a heavy saucepan, bring the water to a boil over high heat. Pour in the rice and salt and stir. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible point and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. The rice will still be quite watery. Stir in the sugar, then add the butter and the saffron mixture and continue stirring over low heat until the sugar has dissolved, the butter has melted, and the rice is bright yellow. 

Stir in the slivered almonds, and about 1/2 tablespoon of the pistachios and, stirring occasionally, cook for 30 minutes longer until the mixture is thick enough to hold its shape almost solidly in the spoon.

Stir in the rose water according to taste. Ladle into a bowl or several small ramekins. Let cool at room temperature, and then refrigerate for at least two hours. 

Traditionally, this pudding is decorated with lines of cinnamon and nuts laid out in your own personal design.

Notes/Results: Besides not needing the sugar, butter and calories from twelve servings of sholeh zard, I also was concerned that it might be too aromatic, sweet and floral for my tastes however, Ruth's tastes mirrored my own and I really enjoyed the flavor. It was just about right in terms of sweetness, rose and saffron flavor and is really quite delicious. A bit more "solid" and less creamy than some rice puddings I have made (the no-milk aspect, non-dairy if you use a butter alternative) and the nuts add a nice little crunch. I think some dried fruit would be great in here as well. Since it's a cold rice pudding, it would be a fabulous summer dessert--although the bright sunny color does make it warm up a dark and dreary day. Noting that Ruth said sholeh zard is traditionally decorated with lines of cinnamon and nuts in designs and patterns, I looked it up in Google Images and it was fun to see the different and very creative variations. Since I was serving mine in ramekins and I like things simple, I just made a single flower pattern to top the small bowls. A great way to use some exotic pantry items I had stocked up on, pretty, and delicious, this was a fun recipe to add to my rice pudding collection. (I think this is #7 on the blog according to the rice pudding label on my sidebar.) I will happily make it again.

I'll be rounding up all of the dishes that Comfort Me with Apples inspired shortly after the deadline on the Cook the Books site. If you missed out this round and like food, books and foodie books, consider joining us for April/May with our pick; The Feast Nearby: How I Lost my Job, Buried a Marriage, and Found My Way by Keeping Chickens, Foraging, Preserving, Bartering, and Eating Locally (All on Forty Dollars a Week) by Robin Mather, hosted by Deborah of Eliot's Eats