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Rice Pudding Recipes: Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) Adds a Twist

by KC Compton

Tags: rice pudding, recipe, cranberry, walnut, spicebush,



On a somewhat regular basis we have potlucks here in the office, to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, special events and sometimes for no apparent reason.

This week it was birthdays and I had a plan. For our April/May issue we've been editing an article on "Seven Shade-Loving Herbs," one of which happens to be spicebush (Lindera benzoin). We found some dried spiceberries for our photo shoot (wait 'til you read the recipe for Spicebush Ice Cream. Mmmmm...) and we had plenty leftover for another use.

Photo by PIWO/Courtesy flickr 

I have been wanting for a while to make a rice pudding with some great short-grained brown rice I've discovered. It is satisfyingly chewy and substantial, and I thought it deserved more of a repertoire than just my usual "steamed, with soy sauce and a little olive oil, please."

So I concocted a rice pudding recipe in my head and prepared it for our potluck. Only Allison Martin, our associate editor, guessed that the secret ingredient was spicebush berries – and that's probably because I provide hints broad enough to drive a truck through. "It's something we mentioned in a recent' Herb Companion article." "It was in one of the gardening articles..." Smart woman that she is, she didn't even look up from her computer as she called out "Spicebush!" 

At any rate, with its cranberrieswalnuts and orange set off by the floral, spicy herb, my rice pudding was at least successful enough that I feel OK sharing the recipe with you. (I have to say that the healthy rice dish didn't get quite as many raves as something drenched with chocolate would have, but ... that will be a different recipe for a different day. THIS is one you can serve relatively guilt-free, thanks to the chewy whole grain and healthy ingredients.)

KC's Cranberry/Walnut Rice Pudding 

• 2-3 cups milk (I used 1% lowfat milk)
• 1 cup short-grained brown rice, rinsed with cool water & drained
• Pinch of salt
• 2-3 tablespoons sugar (I used the organic raw sugar, but the regular kind would work, too)
• 1/2 cup dried cranberries
• 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
• Zest of one small orange
• Juice of one small orange (about a quarter cup)
• 1 teaspoon dried spicebush berries (coriander also works)

1. In a large saucepan, combine 2 cups of milk, rice and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently so rice doesn't stick. Cook until rice is a consistency you like. (I favor a chewy texture and can't stand mushy rice. Your call.) If it starts getting gummy, add more milk, a quarter cup at a time. Stir in sugar as the rice mixture starts thickening. Remove from heat.
While it's still hot, stir in cranberries, walnuts, orange zest and juice. Grind spiceberries in spice-grinder and stir thoroughly.

2. Delish hot, but also good served cold. If it isn't quite sweet enough and you want to be completely decadent, drizzle it with honey after you've put it in individual serving bowls. Garnish with additional chopped walnuts if desired.

That was approximated from my "little of this, little of that" memory. If you make it and something doesn't work or you have a variation on the theme that you'd like to share, please drop me a note. Rice pudding is one of my favorite comfort-food indulgences, so I'm always interested in new twists.