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Roasted Plum & Creamy Chai Rice Pudding

Roasted Plum & Creamy Flat Rice Pudding

Let’s start with the winner of the Chefs Catalog giveaway, shall we? Congratulations to "misreneer"! Send me your address at mytartelette[at]gmail[dot]com and we’ll get that package on its way to you!

At the end of the Food Photography workshop I taught during Evo 10 in Park City Utah, a new blogger came to me and asked if I ever got tired and cranky from blogging. I tried my best to keep my eyes from popping like UFOs while keeping my enthused answer to normal decibel level. You guessed it, my answer was "Nooooo! Heck no!" Adding that if anything I get cranky not being able to post and not from having to post.

Like the blogger next to you, we both blogged differently. Yet, we both took immense pleasure in what we did. This space is true comfort for me. The food, the feelings, the people, your visits. It’s all pure joy. What I write, photograph, cook or bake. It’s authentic. It’s life with us. It’s not what we expected or wished for sometimes but it is what we have and what we live. It’s ours. It’s also the space I keep free of insurance and bank talks or the dozens of work emails imploding the inbox. It’s a journal.


A space I define and refine constantly as I define and refine what I do and who I am. It’s authentic. It’s got joys, tears, friends, family. That’s enough emotions not to throw my mortgage into the mix. Yes. We blogged differently but for the same reason. Because we felt comfortable to be ourselves and tell of ourselves in that space we created.

I like slipping into the comfort of this page late at night when the house is asleep. It’s like digging my spoon into that last bite of rice pudding and feeling at peace with all sorts of emotions and feelings. I also let my thoughts be dark and grey. I let myself get upset and weary before I can be ok again. Coming here forces me to put value and words to those emotions and decide which ones are worth sweating over and which ones are better off letting roll off my back.

Making Plum Rice Pudding

As you and I get closer and closer to write and read post #700 I realize that in the end you may read about the small stuff, the little things, the nostalgia and that’s because they make me who I am and give me what I see.

As I was packing for Utah and Colorado a couple of weeks ago (darn summer- stop flying by so fast!), I was trying to use up produce that I knew B. would not touch while I’d be gone. As I mentioned before, cooking is not his things, let alone baking. Eating is. I started thinking about desserts that would evoke comfort for him. The kind he’d want to grab after a long day working outside in the hear followed by a few hours of teaching in the evening. Alright, I confess: desserts that would also make him miss be a little bit…eheheh!

I made shortcakes, filled a container of sliced strawberries and whipped up some cream to go along. He shared those with the neighbors. I made his favorite Southern banana pudding from scratch complete with wafers and chopped praline. He invited his parents over to dig through it (praise from my mother-in-law…hallelujah!). Lastly I made my grandmother’s rice pudding and we shared some that morning before my flight. Every time I looked at the pictures on my laptop, I felt instantly closer to home. The home in our hearts, not my house or the space we live in. That’s changeable. Comfort is where your heart is first.

Chai Spices

One thing my grandma knew was rice pudding. Riz au lait. One thing I know very well is to take her recipe and run with it as the season change or as my emotions flutter. Sometimes I change the spice, from vanilla to chai. Sometimes I take liberties with the flavors and add a slash of rum or a sprinkle of brown sugar. Other times I’ll hide some salted butter caramel right in the middle, or some spiced chocolate ganache. The name may not be all that exciting but the possibilities are closer to sexy than you might think.

This time, I took advantage of a small basket of plums I had just purchased at the farmers market. Tiny, tart and full of flavor. I simply roasted them for a short period of time with a sprinkle of vanilla sugar. For the rice, I used a flattened rice from India that I got while visiting my dear friend Bina. I like this one a lot because it cooks a bit quicker and you can serve it slightly undercooked (to keep more shape) without having it taste raw. I added a pinch of cardamom to the milk I cooked the rice with and voila….one heck of a creamy and comforting dessert topped with some of the best of the season’s bounty.

Roasted Plum & Creamy Flat Rice Pudding

Roasted Plums and Creamy Rice Pudding:

Serves 4-6

For the plums:
1/2 vanilla bean
3 tablespoons sugar (I used sucanat)
pinch of edible lavender
12 small plums, halved and pits removed

For the rice pudding:
1/2 cup (100gr) flattened rice (use arborio if not available)
1 1/2 cups (315ml) whole milk (I used raw)
1/2 cup (60ml) heavy cream
1/4 cup (50gr) sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

chopped pistachios (optional)

Prepare the plums:
Preheat the oven to 400F and position a rack in the middle.
With the tip of a knife, slice the half vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into a small dish or ramekin. Add the sugar and mix with your fingertips until the vanilla bean seeds are well distributed.
Place the plums in a baking dish and sprinkle the vanilla sugar and lavender evenly over them. Bake for 20 minutes or until juicy. Let cool.

Prepare the rice pudding:
In a stainer, rinse the rice under cold water for a minute to remove some of its natural starch.
In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, bring the rice, milk, cream, sugar to a simmer. Cook until tender, stirring occasionally for about 20 to 30 minutes. Add the salt and spices, stir briefly and remove from the heat. Let cool for a few minutes and divide the pudding evenly among ramekins. Divide the roasted plums evenly in between the dishes and sprinkle with chopped pistachios if desired.

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matt July 6, 2010 um 9:38 pm

you might even get me to like rice pudding with this one..

I am totally in love with the shot of the ingredients in that fantastic bowl, on the white background. IN LOVE!

Jessica @ How Sweet July 6, 2010 um 9:40 pm

The plums in the rice pudding just sound fabulous. A delicious combination!

Jules AF July 6, 2010 um 10:11 pm

The rice pudding sounds amazing!

{kms} July 6, 2010 um 10:14 pm

stunning! i could eat rice pudding…everyday. forever.

Unknown July 6, 2010 um 10:29 pm

This sounds and looks so comforting. It's always a pleasure reading your blog.

Aimée July 6, 2010 um 10:31 pm

Helen, how do you always have the capacity to make my knees go weak with your posts. The roasted plums are so simple, but oh-so-seductive. Closer to sexy than one would think indeed!

I hope one day my boys will embrace rice pudding with the same ardor I do, making rice pudding for one is not so fun.

Sara Tea July 6, 2010 um 10:52 pm

Chai rice pudding? Yes please. Wow!

Georgia Pellegrini July 6, 2010 um 11:08 pm

How great that your husband can enjoy your baked goods even when you're gone! If only we could all be that lucky 🙂

Asha @ FSK July 6, 2010 um 11:26 pm

Interesting use of flattened (puffed) rice! I didn't know anyone other than Indians used it.. Is it a French use or your adaptation?

Anonymous July 6, 2010 um 11:33 pm

You always present your dishes in such a beautiful way. They look even more delicious!

m July 6, 2010 um 11:41 pm

Oh my, I will definitely have to try this–I love plums, and I've ALWAYS wanted to try rice pudding.

Delicieux July 7, 2010 um 12:07 am

Ooooh this sounds fabulous. I LOVE chai and the roasted plums look amazing.

Helene July 7, 2010 um 12:31 am

Asha: no other reasons than liking it and having some in my pantry.

Thank you everyone!

Maytina July 7, 2010 um 12:34 am

I must try your rice pudding, it sounds like it could become a family favourite here. 🙂

Anonymous July 7, 2010 um 12:37 am

…and I love reading your stories about your life in the US and your tender memories of the home of your childhood. Your warmth and love of all the good things in life: family, friends, and meals shared with loved ones, make me wish that I could pull up a chair at your table!

indosungod July 7, 2010 um 12:46 am

Just looking at your beautiful pictures is a pleasurable exercise. Sweet rice pudding with some tart plum sauce, delightful.

Alanna Kellogg July 7, 2010 um 1:10 am

Lovely, lovely, luv-ily sentiments …

~ Chef Louise July 7, 2010 um 2:28 am

I'm fairly new blogger and somehow found your blog. I have to tell you, thank you for the creative and inspirational journaling you do here. I am a chef as well who is looking to find a new avenue of creative expression with food. I would have loved to go to your conference. I'm here in LA figuring out my camera blog post by blog post. I too have found blogging to be a part of myself I didn't know existed. Nice to meet you, again… thank you.

Chocolate Freckles July 7, 2010 um 2:55 am

We have a very similar dessert in Mexico called arroz con leche. The idea of adding the plums as a topping sounds pretty yummy!

Chocolate Freckles July 7, 2010 um 2:55 am

We have a pretty similar dessert in Mexico called arroz con leche but without the plum on top… this sounds like a great topping for the sweet rice!

Ellen July 7, 2010 um 2:59 am

Don't know about rice pudding, it conjures up memories of my Grandfather eating the store bought stuff, but I'll give it a try after seeing this. However, I MUST know where you got those fabulous green flowered spoons! J'adore!

Steph (desserts for breakfast) July 7, 2010 um 3:40 am

This is such a wonderfully written, honest, and touching post–I love it! I'm so with you on keeping a blog as a place of comfort, and I think it's especially the case with dessert blogs!

SF50 July 7, 2010 um 3:45 am

Amen on all accounts, sister!

Paula July 7, 2010 um 8:52 am

how simply and tasty it must be!

Salsa Verde July 7, 2010 um 9:30 am

Absolutely stunning this recipe. The presentation is amazing and the flavours, I believe, must be delicious!

bunkycooks July 7, 2010 um 12:23 pm

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on blogging. It definitely is a very personal and interesting experience being a blogger.

I have never been a huge fan of rice pudding, but this recipe takes it to a very different place, so I am sure I would love this with the roasted plums.

Carrie Pacini July 7, 2010 um 12:57 pm

Love this post. Home is an emotional place/space that you share with your loved ones. And food/recipes is so a part of that (at least for me). It ties into past, present and what you create in the future. I know that when I make a recipe from my grandmother or great-grandmother I feel like I am bringing them to life in my kitchen.

Shaheen {The Purple Foodie} July 7, 2010 um 1:46 pm

I love what you've done with poha! I love having it for breakfast in the traditional, savory form – with peas and potatoes tempered with mustard, chillies and turmeric. You should try it.

♥peachkins♥ July 7, 2010 um 2:44 pm

wow! looks delicious!

Sylvia July 7, 2010 um 5:03 pm

As a photographer and a foodie, I've been following your blog for a few months, and trying out random recipes when the spirit (or munchies) move me. I absolutely love the stories, the photos, the recipes. So thank you for sharing with us.

I have a strange obsession with these types of dishes. Whenever I visited my family in Poland, we'd go away to these odd little "resorts" where they would serve zupa mleczna – milk soup, with home made pasta – for breakfast. This (d)evolved into a fixation with any such dish, like rice or semolina puddings… I'll have to test this one out as soon as stone fruits are in season here.

Patricia Scarpin July 7, 2010 um 8:16 pm

I've been reading you for years and it's pure joy to me, darling – I could easily say your blog is my favorite!
Love the rice pudding – I've tried it with apples, but never with plums… Will be giving this a go once plums are in season here.

Simones Kitchen July 7, 2010 um 8:25 pm

I haven't visited for a while and can actually say that I missed your gorgeous photographs! Beautiful as always!

M @ Betty Crapper July 7, 2010 um 8:36 pm

Ah, this makes me yearn for Abuela's arroz con leche. I used to watch Abuela make it when I was young. Sadly, she's no longer around to make it for me. Thank you for giving me some happy memories just now.

jenn from midlife modern July 8, 2010 um 1:26 am

Wow–this looks amazing! I just discovered the glory of roasted plums and I've a long-abiding love for rice pudding, so this sounds like absolute heaven. PS: Your photography is gorgeous!

Anne July 8, 2010 um 1:49 am

The rice pudding and roasted plumbs does water my mouth! I love "salvaging" the fresh produce into something quick and easy–as well as delicious and healthy–especially during the summer months. I will be trying the roasted plums and rice pudding, as it watered my mouth staring at the photo! Thank you for sharing your recipe!

Claire July 8, 2010 um 3:23 am

What a joy, Helene, to take a little break, find a cup of coffee and curl up with your posts and gorgeous photographs….

But Banana Pudding with crushed praline???? Oh my! Do tell us more!

[email protected] July 8, 2010 um 5:38 am

All the spices, fruit and flavors you have in this rice pudding sound wonderful, the addition of lavender kicks it up another notch. I like how you refer to hiding little morsels of yum inside…the butter, fudge etc.
It is true, comfort can be and must be found from within. I can be anywhere at any time & know that I am loved.
I too have found a safe, comforting and loving place that I am passionate about with my blog. Neat huh! (not to mention all the new friends I have made in the past year) xxoo

Ambika July 8, 2010 um 1:42 pm

This is such an interesting marriage of flavors..

Tracy Grant July 8, 2010 um 3:35 pm

Yum-o!! Thank you for your blog :>)

Unknown July 8, 2010 um 4:08 pm

Du riz au lait…..j'ai toujours adore le riz au lait.

David July 8, 2010 um 5:03 pm

Flattened rice? Will have to pick some up on my next trip to the Indian épicerie. Thanks for the tip on that..

cinnaliina July 8, 2010 um 6:45 pm

Again so beautiful photos and what a delicious dessert! I share your thoughts about blogging. It just gives so much even though I´m just a beginner. And good to know that this good feeling will most likely last long or perhaps forever 🙂 I also need to say that you have such a lovely way to write about your childhood memoirs.

showfoodchef July 8, 2010 um 9:04 pm

Ahh, you said it so well – about home and blogging: comfort, warm and safe place for expression. Love the pics as always and the rice pudding with plums – wow – I can almost taste that sweet/sour and creamy together. love it.

Beth July 8, 2010 um 11:44 pm

I love roasted plums, though the only recipe I've used them in myself is pflaumenkuchen- a German plum cake. What is the advantage of using flattened rice over arborio? I've always used arborio and if there's anything better out there I'd certainly like to know!

Nicolette July 9, 2010 um 3:53 am

I appreciate the honesty and care you put into each post. Thanks so much for sharing with us!

Nicolette July 9, 2010 um 3:53 am

I appreciate the honesty and care you put into each post. Thanks so much for sharing with us!

Meagan July 10, 2010 um 7:11 pm

The photo of spices is breathtaking!!

Kara July 12, 2010 um 4:46 am

ah, milchreis (to use the german word for it), one of the few foods of my mothers that I remember her making…such a beautiful, simple dish, though I prefer it with applesauce or cherries, but personal preference there, and nostalgia

Stephanie July 12, 2010 um 10:02 pm

Now this is gorgeous! Could I substitute cherries by any chance? I'm experiencing a serious hankering for cherries these days 🙂

Helene July 13, 2010 um 3:21 am

Stephanie: yes absolutely! Any fruit would work fine.

poppyseed July 13, 2010 um 4:11 am

Your pictures are just beautiful. I love your writing and your foods. I have to try this one!

Cristie July 14, 2010 um 3:45 am

What a sweet post, and so honest and real. I love the simple dish and will make it soon for a family dinner. My best to you.

Jan October 13, 2010 um 5:11 pm

I adore rice pudding. In fact, rice pudding is the only pudding I will eat! Will definitely try this one. Thanks for the great post 🙂

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