Saturday, 10 November 2007

vanilla & lemon rice pudding

Lemon is one of my favourite flavours. I adore the acidity so much that I worry about the enamel on my teeth and my poor stomach.

Jonas is always reminding me to tone down the lemon usage when I cook with lemon, as I tend to like things much more sour than everyone else.

Strangely enough, although I adore lemon in a savoury, sour context, I really dislike sweet lemon flavours.

Lemon lollipops, lemon and sugar on crepes and lemon meringue pie really miss the mark with me and the only lemon sweets I seem to enjoy are lemonade and lemon sorbet because they retain the sourness.

Call me a lost cause, but there are also some flavours where I prefer the imitation versions better than the real thing, vanilla and maple syrup being among them.

Real vanilla beans just seem too vivid and overpowering to me. I feel like they should be used in cosmetics or medicine rather than food.

Bearing all these aversions in mind, I recently made a dessert for Jonas using both lemon and vanilla beans. We had bought the beans in Bali, for a ridiculously low price, and Jonas had been dying to consume them in some way ever since.

I was apprehensive about the dessert, but it was so warming and delicious that I didn’t mind the lemon and vanilla flavours. Topped off with tart raspberries, it was true comfort food.

Vanilla & Lemon Rice Pudding
Recipe adapted from Real Food by Loukie Werle. Serves 4.
½ cup carnaroli rice, rinsed
4 ¼ cups skim milk
½ cup caster sugar
1 lemon
1 ½ teaspoons cornflour
1 vanilla bean
500g fresh or frozen berries (such as strawberries), to serve
1. Wash and dry lemon well. Using a sharp, clean potato peeler, peel long strips of rind, taking care not to include any white pith, which has a bitter taste. The rind will impart a mild lemon flavour to any dish.
2. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil.
3. Add rice and cook for 5 minutes. Drain.
4. Slice vanilla bean lengthways and scrape out the pulp.
5. Return rice to hot saucepan. Add 4 cups milk, sugar, vanilla pulp and lemon rind to saucepan. Bring to the boil.
6. Reduce heat to low and cook, uncovered, for 40 minutes or until rice has absorbed almost all the milk.
7. Blend cornflour and 1 tablespoon milk in a jug. Stir into rice pudding.
8. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and discard lemon rind.
9. Serve with berries.
Note: You can use the empty pod to create vanilla sugar by inserting pod into a sealable sugar jar.

The first literary records of lemon cultivation is an Arabic treatise on farming from the 1100s, although it is thought that the first actual cultivation was in India.

The English word has it’s origins from the Arabic līmūn لیمون, through Latin and French.

There are sooooo many uses for lemons, ranging from ornamental plants, insecticides, face washes and hair lightening treatments.

Lemon juice can prevent oxidisation in pears, bananas and avocadoes and tenderise meat by breaking down the collagen fibres. A bath of lemon juice can ‘cook’ seafood and the acids can mask the smell.

To get the most juice out of your lemons, pick fruit that seems heavier than it looks and make sure the fruit is at room temperature. Sometimes rolling the lemon between your palm and the working surface releases more juices.

Lemons flavonoids are said to be strong antioxidants, anti-carcinogens and anti-cancerous. They have loads of vitamin C and are great for digestion, immunity, skincare, liver and stress reduction.

This week WHB is hosted by The Expatriate's Kitchen.

Reference & sketch:



  1. I love lemon too. I have the same problem with sometimes putting too much lemon for everyone else, while it seems just right to me. Rice pudding is something I hated as a kid, but have learned to like as an adult, especially the Thai rice puddings! Your version sounds great with the lemon.

  2. Elegant litte dessert you have here and I love the speckles of vanilla bean.

  3. I love lemon! I used to be able to find lemon candy - "Sour Lemons". No one else could eat them and they spoiled me for all other lemon candies and sweets. It's sour or nothing.
    The rice pudding sounds delicious - never too much lemon!

  4. This looks lovely. I really do need to purchase some little ramekins for such tasks.

  5. That looks very comforting! A couple of days ago, I've also made a rice pudding with lemon rind and vanilla:
    I could eat stuff like this all the time!

  6. Nice pudding. I love rice pudding but haven't made it in years. Thanks for reminding me. You managed to get vanilla beans past quarantine into the country? I wonder if Balinese vanilla beans are different in flavour from others.

  7. kalyn - i wasn't too keen on the idea of rice pudding (never ate it as a kid), but when i tried it for the first time i changed my mind.

    peter - thanks!

    katie - have you ever had sour warheads? wow, now that's a good sour candy!!!

    kelly - this was the first time i used my ramekins. i bought them exactly for these types of dishes.

    eva - your rice pudding looks great. cherries are a wonderful addition.

    vegeyum - i have brought a lot of vegetables and spices part quarantine and i ALWAYS declare them. it seems anything that has been dried, pickled etc is OK as long as the pack is sealed. balinese vanilla doesn't taste very different from other kinds of vanilla. good vanilla is always good and bad vanilla is always bad - it think it's more about the processing and packaging afterwards.


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