My first-ever post on this blog, almost exactly three years ago, was for rice pudding - a recipe I had taken directly from a cookbook and proceeded to ruin. I posted it anyway, imploring my imaginary readers to "not mess it up like I did." Oh, me.
I suppose I posted it (despite its flaws) because I don't really care for exact science (measuring, temperatures, what have you) when it comes to food, nor do I care when things aren't perfect. I just don't think anyone has time for that, frankly. "Good enough" is actually pretty good.
Part of my philosophy when I coach cooking students is to help them get out of their heads and have FUN, without feeling enslaved by recipes. I do recognize, though, that there's a baseline skill and comfort level that has to be achieved before this can happen.
One of the biggest building blocks you can understand - something that will help you for the rest of your life - is learning about why balanced foods taste good and how to correct your dish if it's tilted too far one way or another. As chefs, we look for the magic spot where lightness meets dark, where sweetness meets salt, where crunch meets silk, where acid meets fat. It's the slaw brightening the pulled pork, the herbs grazing your meaty stew, the cool yogurt on your spicy daal. It's salt and lemons.
Anyway - in honor of 3 years of hosting dinner parties under an official moniker, here's another rice pudding recipe. It's a more interesting and healthful version of sticky rice and mango, if you're a fan of that.
Coconut and Persimmon BREAkfast rice with Cashews and Lime
In a small pot, measure 1 cup of white rice (basmati or jasmine are both fine). Add 1 can of coconut milk, one cup of mylk (pick your favorite - I used almond), and a big pinch of salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower your heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Note: feel free to use brown rice, but you'll need an additional cup of liquid and more time to cook.
Your rice will be wet, but that's good. In fact, you might want to add even more mylk to loosen it up if it gets dry. It's not a pudding, per se, but more like pappy soft breakfast rice.
While your rice is cooking, dice your fuyu persimmon. Make sure to use the crunchy, squat fuyus - hachiyas are soft and very tannic (I'm not a fan). Squeeze lime over the persimmon generously, tossing to cover.
Chop ~1/3 cup of cashews roughly. In a 325* oven or in a pan over low heat, toast the cashews until light brown.
In a bowl, serve a generous scoop of coconut rice and top with limey persimmons and cashews. Drizzle raw honey generously over everything, and sprinkle with finely chopped lemon balm, bee balm, or mint.