Thursday, March 10, 2011

Vanilla bean rice pudding with poached rhubarb

The butterfly is a flying flower,
The flower a tethered butterfly.
~Ponce Denis Écouchard Lebrun

It seems the strange Summer just past has awoken more butterflies than I have ever seen. Even a brief sojourn outside has me greeting dozens of curious, but cautious butterflies, blithely flitting from one spot to another, occasionally fluttering so close that I can feel the breeze from their amber coloured wings kiss my cheek. No matter how lost in thought I am, a butterfly will always bring me to the present and instil in me the wide-eyed wonderment of a child.

It is during these fleeting moments of radiating sunlight that I take my breaks to walk amongst the butterflies, before the oppressive clouds smother the sky and empty their pails of water. After one such intermission I craved something to warm the damp from my bones after a particularly chilling and rain-sodden end to my walk.

I wanted something I could cradle in my hands, simple but nourishing and delicious. To me, a bowl of steaming rice pudding is filled with childhood nostalgia and comfort, the perfect antidote for weary bones.

Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding with Poached Rhubarb
Adapted from Vogue E+T Seasonal Kitchen
Serves 2-3

350ml pouring cream
150ml milk
75g Aborio rice
½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped
2tbs vanilla sugar, or to taste

Poached rhubarb
½ cup caster sugar (I also used vanilla sugar here)
½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped
5-6 medium stalks rhubarb, cut into 3-4cm lengths

For the rice pudding, place cream, milk, rice and vanilla bean and seeds in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium heat and then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the rice is tender. Add sugar to taste. Discard vanilla pod and set aside for rice to absorb excess liquid.

In the meantime, dissolve sugar in ¾ cup of water and bring to the boil. Add vanilla seeds. Add rhubarb and cook for 6-8 minutes or until rhubarb is tender but keeping its shape. Remove rhubarb with a slotted spoon and set aside. Turn the heat up to high and boil remaining liquid until a syrup forms.

To serve, divide rice mixture among 2-3 bowls, top with rhubarb and spoon over the rhubarb syrup.  

ease: 4.5/5.
prep time: 10mins.
cooking time: 20mins.
total: 30mins.

taste: 5/5. A bowl of unctuous heaven. 
I was literally swooning with pleasure after a spoonful of creamy vanilla shaded sweetness with the comfort of milk and an almost white chocolate edge - words can't describe the pure joy this rice brought.
When paired with the tart cerise rhubarb and the lolly-esque syrup it brought from the realm of childhood delight to adult deliciousness. Yum.

The only modification I made was to use vanilla sugar instead of regular. I also chose to add 2 tablespoons of sugar to the rice.

At first I thought it was only enough for two serves, but the rice is actually quite filling so it is definitely enough for three

WARNING: Eat IMMEDIATELY. This does not eat well cold (it becomes too hard), and cannot be reheated as the butter separates from the rice.



  1. Aw, I wish I was enveloped in butterflies when I walked out my door! And that when I walked back in, a glass of this pudding would be waiting for me :)

  2. A beautiful rice pudding! That combo is perfect.



  3. I guess you love rhubarb as much as I do! This looks marvelous! Love the combo...lovely pud with that bright red rhubarb!

  4. Such a beautiful moment, captured in your writing. Lovely. This rice pudding does look so nourishing. I will definitely be making this - hopefully after a nice walk amongst the butterflies :)
    Heidi xo

  5. I've seen a lot more butterflies about too. Not sure what it is.

    Beautiful pudding. I absolutely love the photos, they really set the mood.

  6. Oh god that looks so good -- I'm drooling. Love rice pudding and rhubarb but have never tried the latter poached. Fabulous idea!

  7. Ooh, this sounds so good. And I've just now started to see rhubarb pop up again at the market...

  8. Oh delicious. Rice pudding just evokes so many memories, doesn't it? I used to have it at school as a kid, with a little blob of strawberry jelly-jam on it, and it was wonderful. As an adult I've really grown to appreciate the more sophisticated versions too... aside from the one time it was served to me in a restaurant barely cooked and the maitre d' tried to claim it was 'al dente'. No.

    Gorgeous photos too, my dear!

    Jax x

  9. This looks amazing, I love your writing and photos and really enjoyed this post. Can't wait to try this as soon as fresh, local rhubarb is available, thank you for sharing.

  10. This looks fantastic. I have been wondering what to do with our excess of rhubarb in the garden. AND NOW I KNOW!! Thanks so much.