Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding

IMG_0097

It’s that time of year again. Christmas is over. New Year’s is over. Most people are on some sort of weirdo diet right now that’s making them crazy. Or they got a gym membership and will not stop talking about their workouts. Yeah, yeah we get it – your muscles are sore because you’re normally a lazy couch potato like the rest of us but just shut up about it already. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc, etc, are blowing up with all this crap. You know what I want to talk about? NOT THAT! I want to talk about pudding. Specifically rice pudding. Though I had never experienced this crazy-easy and delicious dessert until a few months ago, I now feel I couldn’t live without it. And you shouldn’t either. I’m guessing you had a green smoothie or some other such garbage for breakfast so there’s no need for the guilt. Let go of the guilt – healthy, right?

IMG_2400

Major players in tonight’s game are gathered on my cluttered counter getting warmed up (see, I’m trying to appeal to you with the sports & fitness references you crazy health nuts). I recently bought the Joy the Baker Cookbook and I noticed her recipe for Cinnamon Sugar Rice Pudding the other night. I was all set to just make that when I remembered the lonely bag of Meyer lemons in my fridge. Then things started to get real. I decided to do things a little bit Joy’s way, and a little bit my way and Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding was born. Meyer lemons are so cheap this time of year so if you haven’t bought any yet, please do. Make delicious things and say thanks when you’re done stuffing your faces.

IMG_0096

Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding

2 cups water

zest of 1 Meyer lemon

1 vanilla bean

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup long-grain Jasmine rice

3 cups whole milk (or a mix of whole and other milks if you don’t have 3 cups. That’s what I did and it was still delicious)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil. While that’s happening, slice the vanilla bean down the middle with a sharp paring knife. Once the water is boiling, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the water, then throw the pod in there too.

Add the rice. salt, and Meyer lemon zest and stir to combine. Bring everything back to a boil, then turn the heat down, cover the pan, and cook for 15 minutes to let the rice absorb the liquid.

Scrape the rice mixture into a bowl, then add the milk, sugar, and butter to the saucepan and warm it over medium heat. When the milk is warm, the butter has melted, and the sugar has dissolved, add the rice mixture back to the pot. Keep the heat at medium and stir frequently until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid – about 20 minutes. You want there to be a little bit of liquid left so your pudding isn’t too stiff (haha).

Pour the pudding into a bowl, fish out the vanilla bean (don’t throw it away dummy!) and press a piece of plastic wrap directly against the top of the pudding leaving no air pockets. This will stop the pudding from forming that gross skin on the top. Take a paper towel and dry off the vanilla bean as best you can, then leave it on the paper towel overnight to dry out.

Let the pudding cool until it is just barely warm, then eat as much of it as you can! You can refrigerate the pudding and serve it cold, but I prefer it slightly warm. This is good for breakfast, dessert, afternoon snacks, you name it! I topped my pudding with some vanilla sugar and that was mighty tasty

Vanilla Sugar

This is ridiculously easy to make so I’m not even going to put it in recipe form. You just take vanilla beans and put them in sugar. That’s it. They can be fresh beans that you’ve just sliced open or they can be gnarly beans that you used in other recipes and then dried out – it matters not. You just throw them in a container of sugar, put the top on it, shake it every few days, and in a week or so BOOM! it’s vanilla sugar. Do it, you won’t be sorry.

Meyer Lemon (kinda) Angel/Pound Cake

So I wasn’t really planning on baking anything tonight, but the three zested Meyer lemons drying out in my fruit bowl kept giving me accusing looks that seemed to say “You better use us tonight, or we’re going to go bad and you’ll be sorry!” I actually get really annoyed when a recipe only uses the zest and not the juice because I feel like I’m wasting so much. I couldn’t bear to throw away the little skinned lemons after making my other lemon yummies earlier this week, promising myself that I would find something that only called for the juice. I went onto my Pinterest recipes board and clicked all the lemon desserts I could see until I found this one, which seemed like just the ticket.

I thought for sure I had all the ingredients and I got the butter and sugar into the Kitchenaid right away, then – horrors! – I took out my egg carton and found only one goddamn egg in there! So after a little bit of swearing on my part, I realized I had three egg whites in the fridge and I thought I could probably just use those and the one egg and cobble things together but then I dropped the f***ing egg! So clearly, things were not going well in the kitchen. I considered just stopping altogether and continuing the next day with new eggs, but my previous experiment had gone so well that I just decided to wing it. I had to use up those egg whites anyway and I had already juiced the lemons. Sidenote: I love my juicer. I could do a whole post on it, but just trust me, it’s amazing and if you’re looking for one, buy it! It’s made by Chef’n and it’s next to my other favorite thing, my Microplane zester. And before you even go there, no I’m not getting paid by these guys to endorse them or anything, I just love, love, love them!

The butter, sugar, & salt were already all working together in the mixer so I threw in the egg whites one at a time, then some lemon extract. The original recipe called for lemon oil or lemon zest, but since the whole point of trying this recipe was to use up some zested lemons I decided to go with some lemon extract I had on hand. I also added some vanilla because I think most baked goods are drastically improved by the liberal addition of vanilla and very few are harmed by it. After mixing in the flour and milk, I poured the batter into two buttered loaf pans and popped them into the oven on a baking sheet to see what would happen. They were ready to go after about an hour so I took them out, let them cool for a bit and then turned them out of the pans onto a cooling rack with some tin foil underneath. A few pokes with a toothpick and liberal application of a simple lemon glaze and the finished product looked pretty good!

After about an hour cooling on the rack I sliced it up and was very pleasantly surprised by both the flavor and the texture. It was very moist and dense and had a nice even crumb pretty much throughout. There were a few butter spots, so I guess I should have mixed everything together for awhile longer in the Kitchenaid, but other than that, I’d say the second experiment went pretty well!

Meyer Lemon Angel/Pound Cake

(kind of created by me on the fly!)

2 sticks of butter

2 cups sugar

scant 1/2 tsp salt

1 cup milk

3 egg whites

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 tsp lemon extract

Glaze:

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup Meyer lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter thoroughly pan or pans of your choice and set aside. I used two standard loaf pans, but you could use a Bundt pan if you have one (I don’t).

Cream together the butter, sugar, & salt, then add the egg whites one at a time and mix well after each addition. Turn the mixer to low and then add the flour and milk in small batches, starting and ending with the flour.

Finally add the extracts and mix just a little more until everything is smooth and combined. Pour the batter into the pan(s) and smooth the top with a spatula, then place in the oven on the middle rack and bake for about 55 minutes until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, whisk together the sugar and lemon juice and set aside. Cool the cake for five minutes on a wire rack, then run a knife around the edges and turn the cake out onto a plate, then flip it back over onto the rack. Poke the cake all over with a toothpick and then brush it with the glaze. It seems like a lot, but it will soak into the cake and make it taste delicious! Leave the cake for at least an hour (that’s how long I lasted) before you slice it up. It would probably taste really nice with some fresh berries and whipped cream, but I didn’t have any of that and it was still really good!