I entered a new (for me) realm of the food world the other week. I was asked to come up with some recipes for a slow cooker aka crock pot. Of course I knew about them I just hadn't ever been introduced to them until now. Growing up in the N.T (Darwin for all you non Australian readers) the last thing you wanted for dinner was a warm stew/casserole waiting for you on the counter or rice pudding for that matter. As far as I was concerned rice was for sopping up your curry sauce, for smearing with peanut sauce or using the leftovers for fried rice.
I decided to treat the slow cooker as an oven , I could do that- no worries. The thing about an oven is you can have it on, know it is on and never have to look inside it until your alarm goes off or your nose detects an aroma- sometimes good sometimes bad, (like the time I burnt 150 biscuits in one go when I was a first year apprentice-that was bad!).
I tried very hard to follow all the crock pot directions I read about in books and on the internet- DON'T LIFT THE LID, LEAVE IT ALONE!!
I couldn't do it, as much as I tried, every time I walked into the kitchen there it was sitting there. I mean I was trained to taste food at all stages of cooking. Add a little seasoning here, put some acid in there but never was I ever told to just leave it alone for 9 hours and 'she'll be apples'. For my first recipe it was a long 4 hours to wait!
I read a few rice pudding recipes and never being a fan of the stuff I thought they all sounded yucky. When I told Nic I was thinking of making rice pudding his eyes lit up and walked with a swing in is stride so with that reaction I was going to try extra hard to make it yummy. In the end I decided to treat it like making ice cream. Make a custard and add the flavour to the warm milk. As pastry chef at Campagnola while I was pregnant with Alex I taught myself patience with custards, panna cotta's and meringues. Before this I thought desserts quite tedious and avoided them like the plague (only because my success rate was dismal). Anyhow to cut a long winded story short, when I took the lid off the rice for the third time lets say 20 minutes before it was ready I thought I had it all wrong. It smelt great but the rice was no where near soft. I decided to leave it and see it through till the end. To my absolute delight and shock the rice transformed in those 20 minutes and when I left it for a further 15 minutes the liquid thickened and it actually looked good enough to try.
I was hooked! It was rich and creamy, a lovely subtle flavour of lemon and vanilla to keep you eating. The rice was soft yet had a little bite to it. Nic agreed and proceeded to eat a hefty serving. Sadly I can't say the same for the boys (they must have my underdeveloped gene for rice pudding) they wouldn't even try it, Max thought the whole concept 'dumb' "why would I eat sweet rice when I can have ice-cream?' I decided I wouldn't force it upon them but thank god my friend Megan came around with her two year old and he thought it wonderful- I sent her home with the leftovers!