Cooking with Bay Laurel: Rice Pudding with Bay

By Staff
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<em>Theresa Loe is a freelance garden/culinary writer, book author and blogger who specializes in organic edible gardening and gardening with children. You can find her recipes and garden tips at</em>
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<p>The leaves of bay (<em>Laurus nobilis</em>) are used in many slow-cooked foods such as stews, soups, and roasts; they are equally good in sweet recipes. In Europe, bay leaves are commonly used to flavor desserts such as custard and pudding.</p>
<p>Most people are familiar with dried bay in cooking, but fresh bay has a much more distinctive flavor. Crush fresh bay leaves in your hand and discover their sweet, spicy scent, reminiscent of nutmeg. If a recipe calls for dried bay, you may substitute fresh with excellent results.</p>
<p>(<a href=””>Learn more about how to grow bay in your own garden.</a>)</p>
<p>Here is a recipe that uses quite a few <strong>
</strong> bay leaves. It is a perfect introduction to the spicy flavor of this herb. The fresh bay leaves add a nutmeg flavor to this old favorite. Be sure to only use fresh leaves in this recipe, as dried do not impart enough flavor.</p>
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<strong>Rice Pudding with Bay</strong>
<em>Serves 4</em>
<p>• 1 ½ cups milk<br />
• 15 fresh bay leaves, lightly crushed<br />
• 3 eggs, lightly beaten<br />
• 1/3 cup sugar<br />
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract<br />
• 1 ½ cups cooked short-grain rice<br />
• ½ cup raisins<br />
• ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon<br />
• Pinch of nutmeg<br />
• Hot water (for the oven)</p>
<p>1. In a small saucepan, combine milk and bay leaves. Over a medium flame, heat the milk and leaves to almost boiling. Turn off the heat, cover and steep for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Strain the milk into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Discard the bay leaves. Add the eggs, sugar, vanilla, rice, raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg. Whisk to combine. Pour the mixture into an ungreased, 2-quart casserole dish. Set the casserole dish inside a larger, shallow pan. Add enough hot water to the larger pan to come up halfway on the casserole dish.</p>
<p>2. Place the pan of water, with the casserole dish into the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes, stirring the mixture after 30 minutes. As with all rice puddings, the cooking time varies depending upon the shape of your casserole dish. Just cook the pudding until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.  Then you know it is done. Serve warm or chilled.</p>
<p>(<a href=””>Try more delicious recipes using the 2009 Herb of the Year.</a>)</p>

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