mardi 9 février 2010

Tage in Weiß

The days before the snow came seem like a distant and unreal memory, almost as unreal as the idea that spring will arrive soon. As I'm writing now, delicate little flakes are starting to fall once again, muffling the steps of the few passers by. Yet I still feel the need for the long walks and photo sessions. On the streets, mountains of old snow are piled high at each side, and as you walk taking the smallest steps possible, there is the crunch of the gravel underneath your shoes and the cracking of the layers of ice. Coming back from the Autorenbuchhandlung, my favourite bookshop with yet another book to get me through the long evenings, the only colours to be seen were those of the traffic lights and the headlamps of the cars. These are the days for staying inside, baking and finally visiting all those cafés which have been on your list for so long.



The extra time in the kitchen is not only good for my cooking though but also for reminiscing about the past. Making rice pudding for example, reminds of those awful school dinners I used to dread and also how depressing and uninspiring I found schooldays. Whenever there was the slightest possibility of getting at least one day off, I used to take full advantage. Sometimes, I was actually ill but even then, there was nothing I loved more than to have time at home, watching films or reading books when everyone else was working. Perhaps that's why an afternoon off work gives me that same feeling. But rice pudding also reminds me of my Dad because it's his favourite dessert.

I don't think his parents were much into cooking. My grandfather died before I was born and whenever we visited my grandmother, the fridge and cupboards were empty except for some milk, bread and honey which always makes me nostalgic whenever I have that at teatime. She lived to be 100 despite smoking, drinking brandy and never dieting (though maybe that helped!). Apparently, my Dad's first cooking experience ended in disaster when he tried to prepare tomato soup. He simply took the can (unopened!) and placed it in a saucepan on the stove. When he removed the lid of course, the hot soup exploded and my somewhat unhappy grandparents had to redecorate their kitchen. A similar event occured many years later when my Dad made his annual batch of marmelade (one of his two specialities, the other is stewed apple) and forgot to put the lid on the blender, covering everything with orange peel. When my grandmother came to visit once, my Dad accidentally misprogrammed the microwave so that the hot cross bun he meant to defrost filled the kitchen with thick black smoke. Then there was the time he had to look after me while my mother was at work but unfortunately managed to drop a full litre bottle of lemonade on a hard floor which meant that both of us, as well as the pantry ended up seriously sticky.

Rice pudding is also something I used to have when I returned from a long weekend hiking in the mountains. There was nothing more wonderful than returning from a day out in the fresh air with aching muscles when the light was beginning to fade to have a bowl of potato soup topped with cheese, followed by rice pudding with apple compôte. The warmth and heaviness of the meal used to make me feel sleepy as I stretched out with a film afterwards.

At the Rebellion des Zimtsternes in Kreuzberg

I had wanted to make my own rice pudding for a long time but somehow, the version cooked in a saucepan never worked out; it ended up dry and burnt on the bottom while the rice was still a little hard. The baked version always seemed a lot of hard work but making it today, I realised how amazingly simple it is. Short preparation, no standing over the stove stirring constantly and a minimum risk of burning. Instead just rich and creamy; the way I remember it from home.


Baked rice pudding


Ingredients (serves 4)

450ml full fat milk
25oml heavy cream
100g round milk rice
85g brown sugar
a teaspoon of vanilla essence
25g butter
some nutmeg to grate

1. Wash the rice and drain it. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
2. Pour the milk and cream into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add in the vanilla, followed by the rice and the sugar. Stir well.
3. Pour the rice into a greased and shallow baking dish. Grate some nutmeg over the top and to finish add some flecks of butter on top.
4. Bake at 180°C for 15 mins then turn the oven down to 160°C and bake for an hour. When the rice pudding is done, it should be golden on top and thick and cream underneath.
5. Serve with the jam of your choice.

16 commentaires:

  1. Aaahhh, baked rice pudding. That also brings back memories of boring and depressing schooldays! As a child, i never used to like it, but now I quite enjoy it (especially when eaten with apple sauce)...

    Lovely shots and story!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. Je n'ai jamais essayé de cuisiner le riz au four : à essayer ! J'aime bien les légendes de grosses bêtises enfantines de nos parents : mon père nous les racontait le soir en rentrant de chez mes grands-parents (mais aucune n'était alimentaire !).

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  3. A NY, nos lendemains de neige ne sont pas aussi jolis que les votres...Ca donne plutot ceci :
    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/01/31/fashion/20090131-street-feature/index.html

    J'aime beaucoup vos souvenirs d'enfance. Tres amusants. Quel phenomene, votre pere !!! Je comprends votre passion pour la cuisine : c'etait un instinct de survie !!!

    A bientot,
    Laurence

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  4. Quelle joie de retrouver ta prose Vanessa! Tes histoires toujours touchantes et pleines de souvenirs me manquaient. Le pouding au riz est porteur de sens pour plusieurs d'entre nous et ton texte ma fait réfléchir à mon grand-père qui préparait son pouding au riz au four. Je n'en ai jamais fait de cette manière. Mais, je vais essayer de retrouver la recette qu'il utilisait. Ainsi, il sera près de nous l'espace d'un moment. Merci de générosité. Tes photos sont magnifiques. Passe un très beau week-end!

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  5. Mmmh le rice pudding! Mais je suis au (petit) régime. Donc, pas de rice pudding. A la place je carbure au café et ceux que tu as photographiés me plaisent beaucoup...

    Ne faudrait-il pas, pour le bien de l'humanité, empêcher ton papa de cuisiner? C'est le Charlie Chaplin de la cuisine! En fait, c'est merveilleux, parce qu'on se souvient toute sa vie de ce genre de ratages hilarants... plus longtemps encore que des réussites culinaires. C'est injuste mais c'est comme ça!

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  6. @Rosa - Mmm, apple sauce sounds good, I'll have to try that next time. Thanks for the tip and for the nice comments as always.
    @Rose - Ah oui, c'est à essayer car c'est plus facile et j'aime bien la texture du riz au lait du four. Les bêtises de la famille sont souvent drôles mais je suis contente que mon père ne me fasse pas la cuisine!
    @Laurence - Le jour où j'ai pris ces photos, les rues avaient l'air bien jolies et blanches mais on a pas mal de jours aussi avec la neige fondue avec ces gros flacons qu'il faut sauter que je déteste absolument.
    Ah oui, mon père dans la cuisine...mais le pire, c'est que j'y suis parfois très maladroite aussi; voilà mon héritage! C'est vrai quand je rentre, il adore mes repas et ça me fait plaisir de les lui préparer.
    @Isabelle - Merci de ta visite et de tes commentaires qui me font toujours super plaisir. Je suis ravie que mon texte ait pu raviver quelques souvenirs pour toi aussi. Mes plats préférés ont très souvent une importance personnelle pour moi. Je viens de parler avec ma mère et apparemment ma grande-mère maternelle cuisinait toujours son riz au lait dans le four car ils n'avaient pas assez d'argent pour des boîtes et c'était vraiment un dessert spécial pour eux. Elle est morte quand j'avais 9 ans et c'est bien de retrouver un lien entre nous. Bon week-end à toi aussi!
    @Des - Thanks so much!
    @Magda - Alors, depuis le repas chez moi, tu es au régime ;-)? J'admire ton discipline. mon grand espoir, c'est que j'aurai très envie de manger beaucoup de salade quand il fera moins froid. C'est vrai ce que tu dis avec les histoires de cuisine et mon père est super connu pour ses catastrophes dans la cuisine. Le pire, c'est qu'il pense qu'il est vraiment doué et parfois il fait du crumble dégueulasse dans le micro-ondes et essaie de nous persuader que c'est vraiment bien mais personne ne le croit...Heureusement, il a d'autres talents!

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  7. Ah Vanessa I'm so glad you get the urge to walk so we can enjoy your photographs!
    And your stories about your Dad and grandparents Dad made me smile. Especially the tomato soup!
    So glad you finally got a baked version that hit the spot! I love some raisins in mine and agree completely that a bowl of that and a good book make a perfect afternoon. (And perhaps for the next couple weeks, a little TV to watch the Olympics!)

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  8. Hej Vanessa! J'arrive toujours dernière dans les commentaires, mais j'arrive :-) Et quel plaisir de contempler (j'ai encore du mal à me plonger dans ta prose en anglais) toutes les belles choses que tu as mises sur ton blog depuis ma dernière visite... Je viens justement d'acheter du riz rond pour faire des petits desserts gourmands. J'avais prévu du riz coco-cardamome, mais maintenant j'hésite. Ton pudding est fort tentant ! Et puis je voulais te dire aussi que j'adore les couleurs de tes photos 3,4,6,10 (en partant du haut). Surtout la 4 et la 6 ! Bises.

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  9. i also love rice pudding, but did you know that in spain we eat the rice puding cold? and since I am a spanish, i cant think of any other way, but i love your recipe, and your photos are stunning! cheers from london

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  10. @Barbara - Thanks so much! It's funny that we both had the idea with the rice puddings and yours is at the top of my list. I don't know how the weather is in Florida but here it's still cold and I could do with some more comfort food for the long evenings.
    @Julia - Merci de ta visite, surtout car tu as si peu de temps en ce moment. Ne t'inquiète pas avec les commentaires, je suis toujours ravie quand tu me les laisses et que tu aimes mes photos :-) Quel grand compliment venant de toi!
    Ton idée avec le riz coco-cardomome est chouette et j'aimerais bien l'essayer. C'est parfois plus agréable avec les puddings et les desserts gourmands pendant l'hiver; j'aime aussi le pudding au semoule.
    @Pity in the kitchen - I didn't know that about the cold rice pudding in Spain and now you've made me curious to try it for myself. Thanks so much for stopping by and for the lovely comment.

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  11. P.S Julia, j'ai oublié de te dire que j'étais enfin au November café hier. C'était vraiment super et j'en parlerai un peu dans mon prochain billet. Bises!

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  12. Beautiful photos!!! Compliments!! Ciao vanessa!!!

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  13. Thanks so much il ramaiolo. Your comments always make me smile!

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  14. I clicked on this post specifically to see your baked rice pudding...which I LOVE! But I was distracted by your beautiful photos. Maybe because it's a cold winter out there, but they have this sad haunting quality...especially the park bench, the cafe table and the bikes. People were there and now they're gone...maybe it's just me that feels this way about those photos!

    ps: your grandmother is AMAZING to live to 100 with all her naughty vices!

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  15. @Erika - I felt the same way walking throuh the city. In the park, you see the footprints of a few solitary walkers and I wonder who they were and where they were going. The grey days only reinforce that impression for me. Sometimes I worry that the photos seem a little too sad but I'm really glad you liked them and also the rice pudding.

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