December 5, 2009
Woke up early, snuggled into bed and reached for the nearest books on the table. First up, “A Place of Greater Safety,” (I’m on a Hilary Mantel jag, and no wonder when she writes sentences like these. “I have tried to write a novel that gives the reader scope to change opinions, change sympathies: a book that one can think and live inside. The reader may ask how to tell fact from fiction. A rough guide: anything that seems particularly unlikely is probably true.”)
I got so absorbed that I began to understand how easily I could spend the entire day living inside of that book, so I moved on to the old cookbooks I bought at Bonnie Slotnick’s store last month. (Another addiction.) “The House of Chan Cookbook” turned out to be a ridiculous volume from 1952 that begins in embarrassing pidgen English and offers entire chapters on Chop Suey and Chow Mein. But “Cooking a la Longchamps,” with its evocation of a long-gone New York, was a wonderful slice of nostalgia. It was a time of “Crabmeat Exquisite,” “Abalone Steaks in Rhine Wine Sauce” and gnocchi that were called “Baked Cream of Wheat with Parmesan.” Turning the page, I realized what had made me buy the book, My father couldn’t pass Longchamps withoug going in for a bowl of rice pudding. And why not? They were famous for this dish, which was served in little brown custard cups, with a pitcher of cream to pour over the top. I loved it too.
I haven’t made the recipe yet, but I will, soon. I have to admit that the amount of cream seems suspiciously small; how do you whip half a cup of cream and make it cover an entire casserole? And doesn’t this rice cook an awfully long time? We’ll see.
Longchamps Rice Pudding with Raisins
3/4 cup rice
1 quart milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup raisins
4 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla
grated riind of 1 lemon.
Parboil rice in 3 cups boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and combine rice with milk, sugar and salt and cook for 25 minutes until mixture is thick.
Meanwhile cook raisins in boiling water for 10 minutes and drain.
Beat egg yolks with half the cream. Add to rice with raisins, vanilla and lemon rind. Put in a casserole. Whip remaining cream until stiff, spread on top of rice miture, sprinkle with cinnamon.
Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 8 minutes, until cream turns golden.
Cool and serve with more cream.
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