Bedtime Banana and Coconut Rice Pudding

Bedtime Banana and Coconut Rice Pudding

IMAG0644

Banana and Coconut Rice Pudding

Every now and then, I fall victim to insomnia.  My mind starts racing, I toss and turn in my bed, and often, my stomach starts growling.  When things like this happen, I know enough to give in, get up and go do something.  Some nights, I’ll put on an intriguing movie to get lost in, or I’ll pick up a fascinating novel and read it cover to cover. Other nights, I go into the kitchen and start creating.  This is one of those nights.

I love tropical fruits like mangos, bananas, coconuts and pineapple.  There’s something so refreshing about biting into a juicy, sweet, chunky piece of fruit, and rich flavorful coconut milk feels like silky cream on my tongue.  This is probably why fruit is always in my refrigerator, rice can always be found in my pantry, and lately, all types of coconut products can be found in my home.

Haupia, from my Instagram feed

Haupia, from my Instagram feed

When I was a kid, my favorite desserts weren’t cookies and cupcakes, but all the Asian ones: Thai mango and sticky rice, Vietnamese che chuoi (tapioca and banana pudding), Japanese mochi (sticky rice cakes) and Hawaiian haupia (coconut gelatin).  [If you follow me on Instagram or Pinterest, you’ll see all my favorite foods and more].   Even in a restless state of mind, I remembered all of my favorite childhood desserts, raided my cupboard and threw together this easy banana and coconut rice pudding.  The result is a thick, custard-like dessert, with flavors of coconut, banana and almond to enjoy.

I used Trader Joe’s coconut milk, the kind that comes in a carton and is kept in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.  It’s less fattening than the canned milk type and cooks the rice well.  Because I love the way almond and coconut mix, I used almond extract, but vanilla will do if that’s what you have on hand.  For the rice, I use Calrose premium rice.  I like it’s chewy, thick texture, and find it similar to tapioca pearls.  The rice cooks quickly, in about 20-25 minutes, and you’ll need to stir it frequently.  Towards the end of cooking time, the pudding will thicken quite a bit, so keep your eye on the pot!

This dessert is enjoyable warm or chilled.  The aroma of cinnamon and coconut is pretty irresistible, and will offer a nice, soothing fragrance to your home.  Sweet, sweet dreams, my friends.

IMAG0640Banana & Coconut Rice Pudding
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1/2 cup rice, uncooked
2 cups coconut milk (beverage type)
3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 banana, peeled and split lengthwise, then quartered

  1. Add the rice, coconut milk, cinnamon and almond extract to a pot over medium high heat.  Taste the milk and adjust sweetness or cinnamon as desired.  Once the mixture comes to a boil, lower the heat and allow to gently simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon.
  2. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, add the bananas.  Continue to stir to prevent from sticking.
  3. Allow to cool, then serve warm or chilled.
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Stainless Steel Cookware: Why Every Kitchen Needs a Set

Stainless Steel Cookware: Why Every Kitchen Needs a Set

Cuisinart Contoured Stainless Steel Cookware

I’m often asked about my favorite type of cookware.  The honest answer is simply: a wide range.  My kitchen is filled with a variety of cookware, from stainless steel to cast iron enamel, non-stick aluminum to antique copper.  As someone who loves to cook all kinds of foods, the diversity in my cookware certainly reflects that!

When asked which type of cookware I use the most, the answer is stainless steel.  Stainless steel pots and pans are the workhorse of the kitchen.  They can be used to make any dish, ranging from everyday quick meals to slow cooked dinners.  Restaurants and professional kitchens are stocked to the brim with stainless steel cookware as it’s affordable, durable and most of all, easy to clean and care for.  In a home kitchen, they are light-weight, easy to use, and in most cases, dishwasher safe. 

What really defines excellent stainless steel cookware from the ordinary are three distinct features: the make-up or composition of the steel, the base of the cookware and the design of each pot and pan. 

Composition is important because steel is an alloy and will need metals such as aluminum and copper to conduct heat properly.  In addition, to make the steel “stainless” the metals chromium and nickel are added, which ensure the cookware will not scratch or rust easily.  If you hear the term “18/10” used in stainless steel cookware, this is the percentage of chromium and nickel found.  18/10 is the highest quality. 

I always inspect the base of any piece of cookware.  What I look for is an encapsulated base, a thick core of metal that tells me heat will be distributed properly.  If this type of base is missing, put down the pan and walk away.  You might as well cook on a plate.

Finally, design is important because stainless steel cookware are my “go to” pans.  Since I like making sauces, I prefer cookware that has a contoured design, which allows whisks, spatulas and wooden spoons to glide around easily.  In professional kitchens, a contoured pan is commonly referred to as a “saucier” and is used repetitively for roux, gravy, and any mother sauce.  How nice that in home kitchens, we can grab sets of cookware modeled after this one amazing pan! 

My asparagus salad with scallops and chorizo

As mentioned, I love making pan sauces, gravy and quick dressings, all of which are easy to do in a stainless steel pan.  The art of deglazing, that is, to take the drippings or leftover caramelized remains of a protein then turn it into sauce is absolutely brilliant.  Pan sauces give dishes such body, enticing flavors to dance on your tastebuds and linger on the palate.

On Saturday, you can catch me on HSN showing all kinds of saucy recipes with the Cuisinart Contour 17 piece stainless steel cookware set.  I will be pan-frying lamb chops, then deglazing my pan with champagne vinegar and fresh mint leaves (recipe below!)  I will also be making a simple fresh raspberry sauce (drizzled over french toast), a tangy tomato and olive puttanesca sauce, an asparagus salad with chorizo and scallops, and a rich and creamy chocolate ganache.

The cookware segment has been labeled as a “showstopper” because there’s no other configuration like it and the price point is unbeatable.  Not to mention, the brand Cuisinart has been trusted and loved by people (including Julia Child and James Beard) for decades.  Oh!  I’m so excited to go on-air with this cookware!

In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek at one of my favorite lamb chop recipes.  This comes together so quickly, it’s one of my favorite weekday dinners.  I often pair it with sides like mashed potatoes and peas.  Enjoy!

Lamb Chops with Fresh Mint Drizzle

Lamb Chops with Fresh Mint Drizzle
 
6 lamb chops, frenched
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Season the lamb with salt and pepper on both sides.  Over medium high heat, heat oil in a skillet.

Add the chops.  Allow to cook on each side, flipping only once.  2-3 minutes for medium rare, 3-4 minutes for medium.  Remove chops from skillet.

Deglaze the pan by adding the champagne vinegar, sugar and mint, picking up any brown bits left from the chops.  Let the sauce simmer for one minute, then pour over chops.  Serve immediately.