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Food, general thoughts, food…


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Baked rice pudding

I photographed this prior to cooking. It was requested by my son when he came down to lunch over the weekend, it was something he had recently discovered his girlfriend was very fond of. Of course, his first though was ‘arrange lunch with Mum and have her cook rice pudding’. It is nice to be thought of….

Baked rice pudding

2 cups (500ml) milk
300ml thin cream
1/2 cup (110g) medium grain (calrose) rice, rinsed, drained
1/2 cup (100g) caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped (I didn’t have a bean handy so added 1 tsp of extract after simmering)
Pinch of ground nutmeg, plus extra to sprinkle
2 egg yolks
Preheat oven to 160°C.
Combine milk, cream, rice, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla bean and seeds and nutmeg in a medium saucepan.
Cook over meduim heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until it reaches a simmer.
Remove from heat and set aside for 15 minutes to infuse.
Remove and discard the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean.
Add egg yolks and stir to combine.
Pour rice mixture into a 4 cup (1 litre) capacity ovenproof dish.
Sprinkle with extra nutmeg.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes or until rice is tender and custard is set.
Remove from oven and set aside for 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm.


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Fish Bites and Lemon Butter Rice

So, today I googled ‘why are rabbits called bunnies?’ This is an example of the things that cross my mind whilst eating my breakfast. There was no string of thought that led to this curious subject; it just suddenly concerned me deeply from out of nowhere. I know now what the accepted reasons are and I can sleep tonight secure in that knowledge. I will not bore you with details, you may google it yourself if you are interested in the answer.

An excellent combination. Fish and lemon is classic and always works well.
The fish was lightly battered and shallow fried and the lemon rice (surprisingly fast to cook) made the perfect accompaniment.

Fish Bites

White fish fillets, cubed
3 egg whites
1 1/2 tablespoons cornflour
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Beat egg whites lightly to break up.
Add cornflour and salt and pepper.
Dip fish in batter and shallow fry until golden.
Drain on kitchen paper prior to serving.

Lemon Butter Rice

2 Tbls Butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup white Rice, uncooked
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
Grated rind of 1 lemon
To make the rice, Melt butter, add onion and cook over moderate heat
for about 2 minutes.
Add rice, toss in butter and cook for 1 minute. Add stock.
Bring to the boil, stir, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until tender.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Add lemon rind, fork lightly and allow to stand 5 minutes before serving.


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Oven Baked Mince and Cheese Risotto

I wasn’t convinced that this recipe was going to be so great but I have two kids who would eat mince and pasta every single night if they were given the option. I came across this recipe and it involved much the same sort of flavours albeit with rice in place of the pasta. I like risotto but this seemed like the uncultured cousin and I wasn’t sure it would be a good fit for us. It just goes to show that you need to try it before you say you don’t like it. This was a really tasty meal and the whole dish was gobbled up by the four of us, regardless of the fact that it could have fed 6 people.

I will be adding this to our ‘cook it for the kids’ menu, without a doubt.

Oven Baked Mince and Cheese Risotto
Serves: 4 (in our house anyway, I think you could stretch it to 6 with no trouble)

1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon oil
500 g beef mince
1 tablespoon soy sauce
6 cups beef stock
2 cups rice
1 cup tasty cheese, grated
2 tablespoons butter

Fry the onions and garlic in the hot oil. Add the soy sauce and mince.
Cook until the mince begins to brown and the liquid from the meat has evaporated.
In a saucepan, bring the beef stock to the boil and add the rice.
Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the rice is almost cooked.
Mix the meat mixture with the rice and add the cheese.
Oil the inside of a casserole dish and pour in the mixture.
Press down on the surface until it is even then place small pieces of butter on top.
Bake at 180°C for 30 minutes, until a crust forms on top.


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Spinach Rice with Cheese

I hate to waste food and rice in particular always seems to be leftover in our house. I often make a quick, stove top rice pudding out of it but sometimes there is that much that I need to make a main meal just to use it all up. Being on my own for a few days again I was able to consider using a few ingredients that wouldn’t have been appreciated by my husband, such as an entire bag of spinach (I used fresh because I had it, even though the recipe called for frozen). I also used up a tin of cream of chicken soup that was lounging in my cupboard doing nothing useful but working its way steadily towards the use by date (I hate canned soup on its own but it makes a handy ingredient for a quick and easy recipe or two so I normally have a can or two in the pantry)

It is not necessarily pretty to look at but this could be a tasty side dish with a steak or sausages. I was happy to have it for dinner on its own and it made enough for several meals if you have company or don’t mind eating the same thing for a few days.

Spinach Rice with Cheese

1 1/2 Tbls butter
2 cups cooked rice
1 tsp crushed garlic
2 chopped green onions
1 can cream of chicken soup
280g package chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Melt butter. Stir fry garlic, rice and onions until onions are tender, stir often , about 4 minutes.
Add soup and simmer until heated through.
Add spinach, simmer until wilted. Remove from heat, add cheese.


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Easy Pork Bulgogi

Needing something warm and comforting, Asian inspired because I was craving that special blend of spices, a teeny touch of heat because that seemed to be in order also. I did a quick search on the net and came up with the following from Best Recipes. (link to the original here Easy Pork Bulgogi)

Kecap Manis is my newest favourite thing in the world. I spied it on my supermarket shelf and was running low on soy sauce so grabbed it on impulse. I was taken aback by the sweetness of it, it has a strong molasses like flavour and I find it much nicer than traditional soy sauce. I still have both in the cupboard but if a recipe calls for soy sauce and sugar I substitute the Kecap Manis most of the time. It has a depth of flavour that I really enjoy.

Easy Pork Bulgogi

300 g pork belly sliced
5 tsp soy sauce (I used kecap manis and added a bit of salt and ommitted the brown sugar)
1 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp chilli paste (use sweet chilli sauce if you don’t like the slow burn of straight chilli)
1 spring onion chopped
1 tsp garlic minced
1 tbs vegetable oil
1 tbs rice wine
1 tsp brown sugar (didn’t use it, kecap manis is a molassasy thick soy sauce and quite sweet)

Mix all ingredients, except pork, together, then stir pork slices through.
Marinate in fridge for at least 1 hour.
Cook in frying pan until cooked and lightly blackened on both sides.
(my frying pan didn’t get hot enough to blacken the pork, it was damn tasty though)


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Baked Pumpkin and Bacon Risotto

I found this recipe on the net the other day and was immediately taken with it. I don’t have a photograph of my attempt simply because we ate it all before I thought of it. I found it here Baked Pumpkin and Bacon Risotto on Best Recipes (they have pictures).
I love risotto, any which way you cook it, and this was a tasty combination. Of course I changed things, my recipe is below but it is very similar to the original just a few ingredients swapped out for what I had available.

This was readily (and surprisingly) devoured by an incredibly stubborn pumpkin hating 10 year old boy and even given the nod of approval from my 95 year old Grandmother who happily accepted the leftovers when I brought them down for lunch the next day. I’ll be making this again and again, probably swapping out ingredients each time to create something new.

Baked Pumpkin and Bacon Risotto

4 bacon rashers chopped
1 red onion diced
1 1/2 cups rice
2 1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup white wine
60 g butter
1/2 butternut pumpkin peeled diced
1/2 cup parmesan cheese finely grated
1 pinch salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 190C. Lightly pan fry bacon until crisp, and cook onions in bacon
fat until transparent, about 5 minutes.
Place rice, stock, wine, butter, pumpkin, onion and bacon in an ovenproof dish and stir
gently to combine.
Cover with foil or lid and bake for 30 minutes or until rice is soft (took about 1 hour).
Stir in Parmesan, salt and pepper, then serve.


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Spice for Rice

Here is a picture, taken at a weird angle, of yet another wonderful South African thing introduced to me by my husband. I am in love with this little spice jar (which is actually a normal shape not as top heavy as it looks here) and the way it takes a pot of plain boiled rice and makes it into an instant side dish with a wonderful flavour.

The knob of butter that I throw in with it probably doesn’t hurt but the ‘Spice for Rice’ is definitely something I will keep in my spice cupboard and replace once it gets low. Something I haven’t tried myself (my husband isn’t a seafood lover) but I think it would go wonderfully with seafood, particularly prawns, mixed into the rice (hence the picture on the front probably)

I love to try new herbs and spices and have an enormous collection in my cupboard. The spice isle in a supermarket is my favourite place to visit while I am there. There is always something new to try and little international grocery stores are my favourite thing of all time to visit and browse the shelves. I love new ingredients and spices are an amazing way to bring new flavours into your cooking. I want to go shopping now just because I am writing about it 🙂

Anyway, today is a good day to try new things, I recommend ‘Robertsons Spice for Rice’ but if you can’t get it where you are, just give something new a go. Take recommendations from people close to you and take a chance. Who knows? You might find a new favourite!