In most countries of the world March 8th is marked as International Women’s Day. A day to celebrate women, and particularly for some of us, the ones who have influenced us.
What better dish to treat with you than an adaptation of my mom’s classic arroz con leche? I have added coconut to my mom’s rice pudding and added a bit of French flair for a dish that is simple, yet refined: Coconut rice pudding brûlée.
Saying that my mother is the woman who has influenced me the most may sound a tad clichéd, so I need not tell you that, I hope. In fact, we Dominicans worship our mothers in ways that may seem slightly overdone to those outside looking in. We need to be strong, resilient, flexible, and most of all, build networks, to survive in a country where the only help coming is from family and friends.
I am lucky to have met so many strong women throughout my life who have been a source of strength and inspiration for me. My women friends are all strong, independent, intelligent and compassionate women; and I strive to be more like them every day. But today I’ll tell you about a woman I adore, one who many people would probably not think of initially: my mother-in-law.
Yeah, that’s right. I am one of those lucky ones to have a mother-in-law who I adore and admire equally.
And if you think I am just trying to earn brownie points with her, you’re wrong. Nobody in my family seems to read my blog. Hmmm… that’s not really a good thing, is it?
Back to my beloved suegra: At nearly 70 she’s a very active woman, she’s smart, generous, curious, warm and a star in the kitchen. She’s made me feel welcome to her family, has poured loved onto my daughter, who also adores her (lucky girl has two awesome grandmas).
Above all, she raised the best husband in the world, and trusted me to take good care of him.
My mother-in-law was here until a few days ago –she visits us every year– and I love how open she is to trying all these “exotic” dishes that make up the Dominican cuisine. I made this for her, and she loved it. And that meant a lot to me.
By the way, credit where credit is due, I first tried rice pudding brûlée at one of my favorite local restaurants, so it is hardly an original idea. I just took it one step further by adding coconut.
Maybe not original, but irresistible, I promise.
- 3/4 cup of long grain rice
- 1 quart [1 lt] of water
- 4 cups of coconut milk
- 2 cups of evaporated milk
- 3/4 cup of granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 large cinnamon stick
- 1/2 teaspoon of clove powder
- 1 cup of freshly-grated coconut
- 1/3 cup of brown sugar for the caramel (optional)
Mix rice, water, coconut milk, evaporated milk, granulated sugar, salt, cinnamon stick and clove powder in a 3-quart [3 lt] pot. Let it rest in the fridge for an hour.
Take the pot to the stove and simmer covered over medium-low heat until the grains of rice have nearly tripled in size and volume has reduced to a third. Stir often to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom.
Add grated coconut and simmer covered over very low heat for another 5 minutes. Stir often.
Remove from the heat and pour into a cool pot, stir until it has cooled to room temperature.
Pour into a broiler-safe baking pan, cover with aluminum foil and chill in the refrigerator (the aluminum foil will prevent it from over-drying in the fridge.
Remove the aluminum foil. Sprinkle brown sugar on top and burn the sugar with a torch, or place in the broiler over high heat until sugar caramelizes.
If you wish you do not have to add the sugar crust. It's still a very good rice pudding without it.