Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bar Food 5. Quick and Easy Vietnamese Sticky Rice

So I've always dreamed of being able to take traditional Vietnamese recipes, which are often highly involved and intense, and simplifying them for people like us - young busy professionals who love to make great food but just don't have much time. Well, I'm a long way from that goal but I think this is a good first step.

I read a post about Cheat's Sticky Rice on Serious Eats (a fabulous food blog) and it got me inspired. The Vietnamese sticky rice I grew up has NO mushrooms (I HATE rehydrated Shitake mushrooms) and is overflowing with salty dried shrimp, lap xuong (Chinese sausage), and homemade fried shallots. Thankfully, you can also buy premade fried shallots in almost any Asian grocery store.

I think this recipe still has room for improvement but for now, it's awfully tasty. Justin ate almost the ENTIRE thing in one sitting.



3 cups glutinous rice, soaked for 3 hours and drained (this is also called sweet rice)
1 cup dried shrimp, soaked for 10 minutes (drain and reserve soaking water)
5 lap xuong (Chinese sausage) links, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon Better than Bouillon Chicken Base
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 cup fried shallot chips

1. Soak a piece of cheese cloth in the shrimp soaking liquid and lay it at the bottom of your steaming basket.

2. Mix all the ingredients except the shallot chips and spread it across the bottom of the steaming basket, pouring any reserved soaking liquid from the shrimp over the rice.

3. All the rice to steam for 30-40 minutes until al dente. Right before serving, mix in the shallot chips so they wilt.

**I know...this needs a lot more work but I wanted to make sure to at least make a preliminary post.**

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Food for the future and a brew buzz

I just spent a while talking to Charlie Pillsbury's wife. Charlie, who was known as Doone in college, was Gary Trudeau's suitemate (D-port maybe?). Anyway, Charlie, the inspiration for Doone and their other suitemate Scot (the half inspiration for Scot Sloane in Doonesbury) and their other suitemates all still get together for Labor Day every year. It gives me such joy to think that we could be having New Years or some other holiday dinner for years into the future.

Also -- here's a recipe for Cold Brew Coffee, my new favorite thing. It's kind of like sun tea in that it cold brews, but the benefits are many -- non-acidic because it hasn't been hot-brewed, very concentrated stuff that can be re-constituted using hot or cold water/milk depending on whether you want hot or iced coffee, and it lasts in the fridge for upwards of two weeks. It's pretty great. I make half-decaf/half-regular blend.

- 1 lb coffee (ground)
- 12 cups cold water

Let sit 24 hours or more. Strain. (To strain I line a collander with 2 layers of paper towel).

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bar Food 4. Pasta Caprese

So I'm now about a month into studying for the bar and I think it's catching up with me. I'm starting to realize just how much there is to learn and memorize. oi oi oi. Anyways, the complexity of my cooking has decreased by a bit but as so many great chefs say, the simplest food is often the most delicious.

Here is a recipe for pasta caprese which I made for dinner tonight. I saw this recipe while watching America's Test Kitchen, a fantastic cooking show on PBSHD, and adapted it slightly given what I had around the house. Because the recipe includes so few ingredients, its really important to use very high quality food. So it was the perfect opportunity for me to use my basil plant.

I grew these guys from seed starting back in March and despite the unbearable Virginia weather and my long trips away from home, they have continued to persevere (while everything else has shriveled up dry). Hope you enjoy the recipe!



1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 small garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1 lb ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch dice
12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 pound short tubular or curly pasta
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon sugar, optional depending on ripeness of tomatoes

1. Whisk oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in large bowl. Add tomatoes and gently toss to combine; set aside. Do not marinate tomatoes for longer than 45 minutes.

2. While tomatoes are marinating, place mozzarella on plate and freeze until slightly firm, about 10 minutes.

3. Bring water to rolling boil in stockpot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta, stir to separate, and cook until al dente. Drain well. Combine pasta, mozzarella, and tomato and gently toss to combine. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in basil.

4. Adjust seasonings with salt, pepper, and sugar (if desired) and serve immediately.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Happy Birthday, HENRY!

Henry's Cake
Originally uploaded by jetrotz
Okay, so this isn't my photo and I unfortunately didn't make you a cake. But don't they say it's the thought that counts? =) HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

This is food related

And, deliciously random.

Andy Samberg is hilarious.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Reunited and it tastes so good...

As fun as it was to see everyone last weekend for our 5th Reunion at Yale, it was almost as fun to revisit all our favorite food haunts. Food played such an integral role in our college lives, from spending a lazy Sunday brunch in the dining hall doing crossword puzzles and recounting our weekends, to making late night runs for pan fried dumplings at the Ivy Noodle or clogging our arteries with fried donuts from the Yankee Doodle. And, surprisingly, New Haven has great food for a town its size.

Sadly, the weekend wasn't long enough, and there weren't enough meals in the day, to hit all our favorite spots. But here's a photo tour of the places we did manage to hit:

Friday Night Dinner and Drinks - Mory's
Mory's... the food is mediocre and way overpriced, but where else can you drink mysterious colored libations from giant trophy cups? Full of tradition, ceremony, and singing, it's a quintessential Yale experience.

1am Snack - Yorkside Pizza
Our go-to snack at 1am was usually the Ivy Noodle, but unfortunately, the Ivy Noodle was on summer hours, meaning they closed at 12am, so instead, we went to Yorkside, another late night mainstay. Some people like Yorkside's pizza, but I don't. There's much better pizza in New Haven. Their calzones, however, are unbeatable.
These baked monstrosities might not seem like much from the outside, but these doughy vessels hide a cheesy goodness that oozes forth when you slice them open. Though I used to polish these off single-handedly, that night Van and Mel helped me out (we had, after all, just had dinner).
The deliciousness you see here is the mixture of ricotta, mozzarella, meatballs and mushrooms that fill the calzone. The creaminess of the ricotta and the chewiness of the mozzarella complement each other perfectly. These calzones are still a regular craving of mine that, sadly, cannot be satisfied anywhere but New Haven.

Saturday Lunch - Thai Taste
For lunch Saturday, a large group of us went to Thai Taste, a Thai restaurant underneath a hotel on Chapel St. This was the first place I had ever had Thai food, and it's a good one. I had the drunken noodles, which were generously portioned and deliciously chewy.

Morse Dining Hall
We didn't eat there, but the door was unlocked so we did get to go inside and check out the dining hall where we spent so much of our time procrastinating with 2 hour meals. They got an impressive new Morse banner that livens the place up a bit.

Class Dinner - Yale Commons
We had our class dinner at the grandiose Commons dining hall (which doubles for a library in the new Indiana Jones movie). This was definitely the best meal I have ever had at Commons (not a high bar to meet). But the steak was surprisingly delicious.

Midnight Snack - Ivy Noodle
We managed to just make it to the Ivy Noodle in time to grab some food to go before their 12am summer closing time. My favorite things at the Noodle are the pan fried dumplings and the scallion pancakes. Their roast pork on rice and chow fun are also good. But don't get the fried rice... they don't actually fry it (and as Van found out, if you ask them to, you just end up with no peas).

Though we managed to hit most of the places that were at the top of my list of favorites, other favorites that I missed out on:
Nirvana - now called Zaroka, but it'll always be Nirvana to us. The best of the many Indian places around campus.
Louie's Lunch - supposedly the birthplace of the hamburger. Their burgers are tasty, and so is their potato salad.
The Educated Burgher - great burgers and breakfast food at great prices.

But, the most tragic of all the places that I didn't get to eat at... the Yankee Doodle. The Doodle was a mainstay on the Yale campus for generations, yet it was forced to close because of financial problems.
It's a travesty that such a Yale institution was allowed to go under. Who else would be able to make such great use of such a tiny space (their one-counter restaurant was almost as small as my dorm room). Their greasy burgers, fried donuts and old school atmosphere are greatly missed.

Bar Food 3. Italian Sausage, Butternut Squash, and Potato Soup

So while the recipe for this post is the sausage, squash, and potato soup, I also wanted to take a moment to RAVE about my new Cuisinart Smart Stick. It's an immersion blender/ whisk/ mini chop all in one. I've been in the market for an immersion blender for a few months now and most of the reviews erred away from these multi-purpose hand blenders. But the ones they suggested were usually $50-$100. I already have overflown our little kitchen with all of my cooking toys so I felt guilty buying something I didn't necessarily "need," since I already have a fantastic blender and a food processor (which I'm hoping will die sooner than later so I can be justified in buying a new one). But when I saw that Costco finally had a hand blender for only $30, I immediately got it and have just loved it.

I used the mini-chop to make a small batch of arugula and basil pesto. Instead of dirtying my kitchen aid standing mixer for just one egg, I used the smart stick whisk attachment to beat an egg white for some super light waffles. And the blender? Well let's just say I've been making soups like crazy, like this one. This recipe was inspired by Emeril's recipe for Butternut Squash and Italian Sausage Soup. My adaptations: I used hot Italian sausage, added potatoes, and eliminated the cream. I was skeptical at first about a pureed soup with sausage. But I must admit, it's pretty darn good. And I also used my homemade chicken stock, which I personally think makes a big difference. Enjoy!



3 cups butternut squash, diced into 1 inch cubes
3 cups
(about 3-4) red potatoes, diced into 1 inch cubes
1 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 hot Italian sausage links, removed from casings
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, plus 12 whole leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram (or 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram)
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade.

In a large dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the vegetable oil and, when hot but not smoking, add the sausage. Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until the onions wilted and starting to caramelize, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, sage and marjoram, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the squash and potatoes, stirring for another 1 minute.

Add the chicken stock, stir well to combine, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the potatoes and squash are cooked through.

With a hand-held immersion blender, or in batches in a food processor or blender, puree the soup. Adjust seasoning, to taste.

Since I made this yesterday, I had some leftovers for lunch today with a spinach, quinoa, butternut squash, and red pepper salad. Delightful. Okay, back to studying criminal procedure. Ugh.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Really, I'm fine...

I had originally hoped today to blog and provide pictures from my corporate finance lunch meeting, which we hold every other week. Another 2nd year associate and I are in charge of ordering the food for the group and to say we are picky in ordering is understatement. However, as I snuck upstairs early to take photos with my handy new blackberry with built in camera, I ran into one of my favorite partners who was feeling ill and by the time I got her help, other people were in the room devouring the food. So I will save a post about my food ordering duties for the next meeting. However, I do have another topic I would like to tackle. Part of any good meal, in my opinion, is the beverage - i.e. liquor.

You all know my affinity for alcohol, and tonight was the affinity group poker night at the office. While I was awaiting some comments to a memo from another associate, I ran upstairs and picked up the below cocktail which I dumped in my container of choice.

Yes, I am indeed the classiest lawyer you know.

I got my new favorite libation of choice, which I stole from Ivette - vodka soda and a splash of cranberry juice. It was a number of these bad girls that made Saturday night at the reunion oh so fun despite the heat. Now I am highlighting my cocktail of the evening not because I like to drink, even while working, or because this is my favorite mug which I got as a present for my 17th birthday, but because like any good meal, following a recipe for cocktails is important!
I had so many of these on Saturday because the bartender paid exceptional detail in pouring the right ratio of each ingredient and they were thus tasty! Some of the best cocktails I have served at parties and the like have been those where I actually used measuring cups rather than a free hand. So lesson of the night, Morsels, a cocktail, even at the office, deserves a little attention in the pour. It's 10:45 and I'm out of here for the night- wohoo earlier than last night's 1:30 am departure!

Easy Ratatouille

Hey kids! Van graciously added me to the blog, which I'm really, really excited about. I tend to be the rip-open-a-bag-of-salad-and-dump-some-tuna-on-top type eater, since it's hard to cook for one, and during the school year Ben and I are usually too busy to cook for one another. But now that we're supposed to be studying for the bar, um, we suddenly have so much non-free time that we want to use for other things. Like cooking! We were on a homemade pizza kick awhile back and burning through bags of mozzarella fairly regularly, and on the back of the Kraft 2% Milk Mozzarella was this recipe. I love ratatouille, and have ever since I was in France after 8th Grade and we cooked it in the dorm--easy, tasty, healthy. This took about 40 min from beginning of veggie-chopping to completion, and you could probably add whatever other veggies you wanted to it (yellow squash or mushrooms would probably be delicious).

The recipe:

Easy Ratatouille

1 large eggplant, cut into bite-size pieces
1 medium red pepper, cut into ½-in wide strips, then cut crosswise in half
1 medium onion, cut into ½-in-thick slices
1 medium zucchini, cut into ½-in thick slices
¼ C South Beach Living Italian Dressing
1 can (14.5 oz) low-sodium diced tomatoes, undrained
½ C Kraft 2% Milk Shredded Reduced Fat mozzarella cheese (I probably used more than this... I do love cheese)
2 Tbsp Kraft Grated Parmesan cheese

Mix eggplant, peppers, onions, zucchini, and dressing in a large skillet; cook and stir on medium-high heat 6-8 min or until vegetables are crisp-tender and lightly browned. Add tomatoes; cook 15 min, stirring occasionally. Top w/ cheeses; cover. Cook an additional 5 min or until mozzarella cheese is melted.

(Tip: when buying eggplant, look for one that is firm to the touch.) <--that's what the bag said, and I thought it was useful. :)

Oh, and I didn't take any pictures of the real deal last night, but here are photos of the leftovers from this evening, served with brown rice:

...and then, of course, we watched Ratatouille, which gets cuter and more charming every time I see it.

Caption This!

So after our Fifth Year Reunion, a flurry of photos and facebook comments were flying all over the internet. After Marj pointed out how ridiculous this photo was, Kat K suggested that it be the subject of a "caption this" contest. As my husband always says, "done and done." So post your captions! Seriously, otherwise I'll just look lame. Here's to Morse and Mory's!

More posts about Reunion to come!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Moroccan Spiced Chicken Kebabs

Here's another menu item from my Sex and the City party! I was intrigued by the Moroccan Spiced Grilled Chicken Breasts I'd read about on Simply Recipes, but I decided to turn them into kebabs so that I'd have more surface area for the marinade, and so the chicken would be more finger food-ish. For some reason, putting a whole chicken breast on my plate makes me feel like, "Oh, now I'm eating a meal! I must also fit salad and other things onto my plate and make appropriate mealtime conversation!" Whereas I wanted folks to feel comfortable with slowly grazing through the food options while we watched some S&tC episodes. I also didn't want the chicken to seem like the main dish since I had invited veggie friends. The Otsu was the star of this show!

This marinade works out great for kebabs because the yogurt really traps moisture in the chicken -- you don't end up with a bunch of dried up pieces of meat on sticks. It's quite flavorful too!



1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (watch out - your hands will smell like cilantro for a while...)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Mix the marinade ingredients (everything but the chicken) together in a large bowl.

Cut chicken breasts into kebab-sized pieces, about 2 x 2 inches. Put them in the bowl with the marinade and stir around so each piece is well coated. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge to marinate and chill for 6 to 10 hours. (I marinated overnight.) If you're using wooden skewers, soak them while you marinate.

Choose a deep baking dish that is appropriately sized so the ends of your skewers can balance on the edges of the pan. Skewer the chicken, using two skewers for each kebab so it's easier to flip the kebabs later on. Leave a tiny bit of space between each piece of chicken. Balance the kebabs on the edges of the baking dish.


Turn the oven to broil, and put the pan of kebabs in on the top rack. After 5 minutes, flip each kebab to reveal the uncooked side and put the pan back under the broiler for another 5 minutes. Then set the oven to 400 and move the pan to a lower rack for about 10 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Thai Ice Tea for a Sweltering Day

Unfortunately, most nights I don't get to eat at nice restaurants , or even propped up in front of the TV on my couch at home. Rather, it's at my desk via the wonders of Seamlessweb. Tonight was another late night at the office, made even later by the fact that I had to pack up my office as I was set to move to a different floor early the next day. I have been fighting the move for some time as it would mean I would have to change assistants and the floor I am moving to is a lot more crowded and busier (read: I couldn't hide in my quiet corner). But moving would also mean I wouldn't have to constantly either ride the elevator or walk the two flights of stairs in heels as I find myself doing several times a day.

So in preparation of the long night ahead I signed onto Seamlessweb to pick out my dinner. Picking what to order is always a long process for me, made worse by the fact that for every 5 new places I try, only one tends to be good. So I constantly fight the urge between a long time favorite or trying a new place. The other battle is fighting the battle between choosing healthy dinners versus the comfort food that late nights often demand. Tonight I found myself draw to Thai food as I had recently enjoyed a lovely meal at my favorite Thai place with all the lovely Morsels over reunion weekend (which was awesome). Tonight carbs and comfort won out, but I also decided to try a new place - Siam Grill.
I picked some old favorites - Kanom-Jeeb (chicken dumplings), Chicken Pad See-ew and a new dish Pad Preaw Warn. In honor of the heat, I also ordered a Thai Ice Tea. Of course this is a lot of food, but since we have a budget of $30, everyone always orders the max and either saves some for lunch the next day or does what I call a "taste and dump." Tonight I did the latter.
The first thing I tried when my food arrived (after a weird call from the delivery lady who could for some reason not find my building even though I told her the exactly street and cross streets) was the dumplings.

These were unfortunately quite nasty. The filling was bland and had a weird texture. I had two and dumped the rest. Next I tried the Pad Sew-Ew. It was pretty good, but very basic. Not too oily which takeout often can be for some of these places.

I tried the last dish and was very disappointed with it - it was a bit too watery and a weird pink color. So I finished off the Pad Sew-Ew, ate some of the chicken out of Pad Preaw Wan and then turned to my Thai ice tea. This was the best of the lot and I happily finished it off before I went back to work for the night and my massive to-do list on my whiteboard. Overall, I probably won't be ordering from Siam Grill again. Oh well.

Monday, June 9, 2008


It was such a treat to see everyone at reunion! I look forward to keeping in touch via stories about our cooking/eating experiences.

Since I read food blogs like nobody’s business, I’ll be posting here regularly about my adventures with recipes from other people’s blogs.

On May 31 I had a fabulous party to celebrate the new Sex and the City movie, and it was a great excuse to try out some of the recipes that have been catching my eye lately. I was looking for a few dishes that could be prepared ahead of time, would be light yet filling (since it was an afternoon party), and of course would taste delicious!

I’ll eventually blog about all of the dishes on the party menu, but let me start with the piece de resistance -- Otsu. It was exactly the right thing for this party… best served cold or at room temperature, light but filling, extremely flavorful, vegetarian (vegan actually), and it only improves after sitting out on the table for hours. I first read about this recipe on one of my favorite blogs -- As Miss Eggs explains, it is a recipe created by Heidi of (another one of my favorite blogs). Heidi removed the recipe from her blog since she has published it in a cookbook, but now it can be found on the Amateur Gourmet (!

I’m going to give you the recipe exactly as I prepared it, which means it’s mostly copied from, but with some variations I used that seemed to work out just fine. I’ll also insert all of the lessons I learned in the process of preparing this delicious dish!




For the dressing:
Zest of 1 lemon
1-inch cube fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon honey
3/4 teaspoon cayenne
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil

For the rest:
12 ounces dried soba noodles
12 ounces extra-firm tofu
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cucumber, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced
1/8 cup toasted sesame seeds for garnish

I made the dressing on Friday night and then assembled the rest of the salad on Saturday morning, a few hours before the party. For the dressing, combine the zest, ginger, honey, cayenne, and salt in a food processor and process until smooth. Then scrape the mixture into another bowl and whisk in the liquids. (The original recipe calls for adding the liquids to the food processor and pulsing, but when I tried that in my roommate’s mini-prep, it sprayed dressing all over the place, even as I held the lid down with all my might!) Store the dressing in the fridge overnight.

The next day...
Cook the soba noodles in rapidly boiling water according to the directions on the package, but taste frequently so you don’t overcook them. Then drain and rinse under cold water. (I first tried using soba noodles from Whole Foods that had a single ingredient: buckwheat flour. They all stuck together in a gelatinous clump, they looked big and weird and they didn’t taste very good. Fortunately I had built some time into my party prep schedule for just this kind of emergency. I ran to Safeway to pick up some much cheaper soba noodles that had a longer ingredient list. They didn’t stick together, and they were delicious! The day was saved! Lesson learned: simpler is not always better.)

Drain the tofu, pat dry, cut into pieces about 1/2 inch by 1 inch (the size of your thumb). Cook the tofu in a dry non-stick skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes, until brown on one side. Toss gently and continue cooking another minute or two until the tofu is firm, golden and bouncy. (Note that a good non-stick pan is key here. I don’t have much experience with tofu, and at first I tried this in a good ol' Revereware non-stick pan. That was a mess. The tofu stuck to the pan like crazy. Fortunately, I had so much tofu that I was cooking it in 5 separate batches, so all was not lost. I switched to my roommate’s beautiful new Calphalon pan, and the rest of the tofu cooked up perfectly with no problems.)

Once the tofu is out of the pan, wipe the hot pan with a paper towel and put in the sesame seeds. Swirl them over medium heat until they just start to turn light brown, then remove them to a bowl to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the soba, cilantro, cucumber, green onions, and dressing. Toss to coat everything. Then gently stir in the tofu. Garnish with the toasted sesame seeds.

I made a double batch, which served about 10 people at the party, plus a few days of leftovers!

(Thank you Henry for the pictures!)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Bar Food 2. Vanilla and Rum Rice Pudding

So I'm officially a week into my ipod bar review and I've surprised myself. I cook a lot. I've cooked most of my meals this week. They taste pretty good. And Justin has not complained (although I doubt he ever would out of fear of breaking my heart). I made easy pork chops with a mustard sage sauce a few nights ago. We had tacos the other day made with organic beef and homemade pico de gallo. But I have noticed one thing, I haven't made any desserts.

Justin and I were at the grocery store last night after a long afternoon at the golf course. He played 18 holes while I studied outside the clubhouse (it was a gorgeous day, especially since the humidity still hasn't hit Virginia). While browsing through the bread aisle, I sent Justin to get some eggs. He came back with Kozy Shack Rice Pudding. What's this, I asked? You want to eat this crap? Isn't my rice pudding better? In all honesty, there was no reason to get defensive. The poor guy just wanted some rice pudding without having to wait all night. But instead, I sent him back to return the kozy shack and pick up a quart of half and half. I was going to make rice pudding. The wait would be worth it.

Speaking of rice pudding, when I went up to New York City last February to hang out with Melissa, we spent an entire day eating - literally. One place we stumbled upon was Rice to Riches. Here is a photo of Melissa outside of Rice to Riches, an eatery in New York City entirely devoted to rice pudding. While delicious, it was amazingly expensive and the service was terrible. But seriously, SO GOOD!

The following recipe is adapted from Ina Garten's Rum Raisin Rice Pudding. I've adapted it in three ways: (1) I took out the raisins since Justin doesn't care for them, (2) I use aborrio rice instead of basmati, and (3) I've used a vanilla bean for those pretty little flecks and its stronger and more potent flavor.



2 tablespoons spiced or dark rum
3/4 cup abborio rice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 extra-large egg, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Combine the rice and salt with 1 1/2 cups water in a medium heavy-bottomed stainless steel saucepan. Bring it to a boil, stir once, and simmer, covered, on the lowest heat for 8 to 9 minutes, until most of the water is absorbed.

2. Stir in 4 cups of half-and-half and sugar and bring to a boil. Scrape the beans from the vanilla bean with the back of a paring knife and mix into the rice mixture along with the remaining pod. Simmer uncovered for approximately 30 minutes, until the rice is very soft. Stir often, particularly toward the end. Take off the heat. Slowly stir in the beaten egg and let thicken for 1 minute. Add the vanilla extract and rum. Remove the vanilla pod. Stir well.

3. Pour into a bowl, and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Serve chilled.