This week on the Market Report, Robert Wemischner talks about how he likes to make pastries with the first cherries of spring. He likes to poach them in red wine and put them in a rich rice pudding. Try his recipe below.
Chef’s Note: The best rice puddings are the ones that are made with the smallest amount of rice. If you are aiming for custardy deliciousness, as in this pudding, this is the way to go. Poaching the cherries in the slightly peppery and bracing aromatic bath yields fruit that plays beautifully against the richness of the pudding.
Yield: 4-6 servings
Recipe by Robert Wemischner, author of The Dessert Architect
For the Rice Pudding:
1 quart (32 ounces) whole milk
5 ounces (generous ½ c.) granulated sugar
1 fragrant vanilla bean, split lengthwise, with its seeds scraped
2 ounces (scant ½ cup) Koda Farms Japanese or other Japanese-style raw white rice
6 egg yolks from large eggs (approximately 4 ounces)
1 t. cornstarch dissolved in 1 T. cold water
2 ounces (4 T.) softened unsalted butter, cut into pieces
In a heavy 3 quart saucepan, heat the milk with the sugar and vanilla bean. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes and then add the rice. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally to ensure that the rice is flowing freely throughout the liquid and that the mixture is not sticking or burning on the bottom of the saucepan. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the rice is tender (rice will vary in their cooking times). Test it to be sure. If not, continue cooking for another few minutes until the rice is well softened but still intact.
Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl and add about ½ cup of the rice mixture, whisking to combine. Now add this mixture back into the saucepan along with the dissolved cornstarch. Cook over medium heat, stirring gently but thoroughly, just until the mixture has thickened slightly. It should coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Allow to cool and serve either slightly warm or cool, or even refrigerated, if you prefer. (Refrigerate if not using within an hour).
For the Cherries:
1 lb, of Brooks or other dark sweet/tart variety of fresh cherry, stems and pits removed
3 c. dry red wine
½ c. sweet port wine
2 ounces granulated sugar
1 t. whole black peppercorns, coarsely cracked
Piace the pitted cherries and the sugar in a bowl and allow to stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, bring the wines and peppercorns to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and then pour through a sieve to remove the peppercorns. Reserve the liquid, discarding the peppercorns. Return the liquid to a clean saucepan and add the cherries and sugar mixture. Simmer over low heat just until the cherries soften slightly. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Refrigerate until ready to serve the rice pudding. (Note that depending on the serving vessels that you use, you might have some of the cherries left after portioning out the puddings. They will keep well and would be great over vanilla ice cream or on their own. )
To serve: Spoon the rice pudding, half filling 1-1/2 c. capacity serving dishes or nice wide mouthed glasses (heatproof if serving the pudding warm). Top with the cherries and serve immediately. A crisp cookie such as a buttery shortbread or spicy ginger snap would be a nice accompaniment.