Beef Minestrone Recipe – Gluten Free

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“Did you know you can drink food? It’s true! It’s called soup…” ~ Jarod Kintz

Minestrone is a simple soup to throw together, and it’s a complete meal in a bowl. It freezes and reheats beautifully, so it’s a terrific soup for when you’re busy or unwell. I’ve been known to eat it for breakfast, lunch OR dinner. 🙂

This wholesome soup is made on a base of my bone broth, so that it’s extra nourishing. I’ve also swapped out the traditional pasta for a couple of home-grown potatoes. Pasta gets very gluggy on a reheat, but if you’d like to add some in I’d use about half a cup and turn your heat to high just before the end of the soup cooking time, make sure there’s enough liquid, put pasta into soup and cook til al dente.

I also confess to making this soup often as a fridge clean-out: chopping and adding in handfuls of whatever vegetables or cold roast meats or smallgoods are left at the end of my week. Don’t be afraid to be veer away from the recipe and go with what’s to hand. It’s a robust recipe that can take a little variation.

Last night it was stormy and I sat up in bed with my bowl of soup, listening to rain on the roof before snuggling back up under the covers for a good night’s sleep. Perfect healing environment!

Note: If you prefer, you can make this on a chicken stock base, or for vegetarians and vegans use a vegetable stock base, omit the bacon, and add in a second tin of beans of your choice.

Ingredients for 8 servings:

1 x large onion, 6 x garlic cloves, 2 x carrots, 2 x celery stalks, 4 large rashers of bacon (about 200/250 grams), 2 x medium sized potatoes (or sweet potato) washed but with skin on, 8 cups of beef bone broth (or your favourite stock), 1 teaspoon of dried Italian herbs, 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, 1 x tin of diced tomatoes, 1 x 300g tin of red kidney beans – rinsed and drained, 1 x tablespoon of olive oil, 1 x tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

Optional: 2 tablespoons of sherry, a handful of shredded cooked beef salvaged from the bones you made your broth with, shaved parmesan cheese and finely chopped parsley to garnish.

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Method:

Wash, drain and chop all vegetables. Dice bacon. Shred or chop beef into small pieces if using.

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Place your vegetables and bacon in a large saucepan or slow cooker, drizzle over the oil and stir over medium heat until slightly browned and fragrant.

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Now add in your drained beans and the shredded beef if you are using it.

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Pour the stock and tomatoes over and stir well. Finally add your dried herbs, sherry (or a slug or red or white wine) parsley, a good grind of pepper and a pinch of salt. Bring to slow boil and then reduce to a simmer for one hour. (The bowl in the background is the retrieved cooked carrots and beef trimmings from my bone broth – all ready for my dogs’ breakfast!)

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Adjust seasonings as required if it needs more salt or a little more pepper. If freezing soup, cool on the stove for twenty minutes before putting into containers. Soup will hold in fridge for five days, or transfer to freezer and store for up to three months.

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Serve in deep bowls with a handful of parmesan and parsley sprinkled over the top as a garnish. A good bread to mop up the last of your soup is also delicious! Enjoy 🙂

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No-Bake Yummy Slice Recipe

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“When all else fails, take a vacation.” 
~ Betty Williams

It’s school holidays here in Queensland, and this it the perfect easy slice to make.  In fact this recipe is so easy that the kids will have a batch of these whipped up faster than you can say “you’ll like this – it has chocolate in it!”

I’d love to have a more inventive name for this slice, but for years it has just been referred to as Nicole’s Yummy Slice.  It’s a delicious combination of apricots, nuts, oats, seeds and a dash of chocolate, and there’s no baking involved at all – just a little heating of a few wet ingredients.  This slice has been a stalwart at my workshops, and it’s a great standby recipe for school holidays, or as a lunchbox treat.  I also like to give it as a gift. It makes an ample batch, which is handy because it seems to get eaten very fast.

Ingredients:

Place the following in a large bowl:  3 cups of rolled oats, 1 cup of unsweetened desiccated coconut, 1/2 cup of sesame seeds, 1 and 1/2 cups (200 grams) of chopped dried apricots, 3/4 cup of pepitas (pumpkin seeds), 1 cup of flaked almonds (100 grams), 1 and 1/4 cups of milk chocolate chips (250 grams)

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Place the following into a saucepan: 200 grams butter cut into cubes, 1/2 cup of soft brown sugar, 1/2 cup of crunchy peanut butter, 1/2 cup of honey

Method:

Use baking paper to line a 20cm by 30cm slab tin ( 8 inch by 12 inch).

Stir the dry ingredients together until well mixed.

Melt the wet ingredients together over medium heat, stirring so that it doesn’t catch on the  bottom and burn. When it is all melted, pour over the dry ingredients and mix well.

Dump into the tin and smooth out well, using the back of a spoon or a clean hand, which has been dipped in water so that the ingredients don’t stick to you!

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Refrigerate until firm, cut into squares and demolish!  Goes well with a glass of milk, a cup of tea or coffee or just on its own.  Enjoy 🙂

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Nicole’s Fruit Slice Recipe

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“If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.” ~ Tom Stoppard

This week’s offering for my ‘Slice Extravaganza’ series – recipes taken from the hallowed  Family Recipe Book – is known simply as ‘Nicole’s Fruit Slice’.  Why? When I was a little girl it was my absolute favourite, and I never tired of it.

It has a moist biscuit base, a luscious tangy fruit filling with a hint of cinnamon and lemon and a sweet glace icing to top it off.

I would race home from primary school with my little brother and sister in tow, find the big old key under one of the potplants beside the laundry, unlock the back door, get everyone out of uniforms and into play clothes and then we would sit and have afternoon tea at the table in the kitchen before we did our homework. One glass of cordial each, or milk if there was plenty, and a piece of slice. (Often, we ate two..)

I am still quite partial to pink icing. Especially on cupcakes.  But that’s a whole other story. As you can see from the picture below, food appreciation and daydreaming has been a big part of my life since I was small! You will also see that I avoided eating crusts, on account of them making your hair go curly.

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Base Ingredients:

1 x cup of plain flour (all purpose flour), 3/4 cup of rolled oats, 1/2 cup of lightly packed soft brown sugar, 1/2 cup (4 oz or 125 grams) butter cut into cubes

*Note – for vegans, use a vegetable butter substitute.  If you’re gluten intolerant, this works fine with a commercial gluten-free flour mix and coconut substituted for the oats. – Don’t pack this too tightly into the tin if using the gluten-free mixture.

Fruit Layer:

1 cup of dried currants, 1/2 cup of sultanas (golden raisins), finely grated zest of one lemon, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of cornflour, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 cup of water

Glace Icing (Frosting):

1 cup of icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar) 1 teaspoon of butter, 1 tablespoon of milk, pink food colouring

METHOD:

Preheat oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Line a 28cm x 18cm (7 inch by 11 inch) slice tin with some baking paper.

Base:

Measure the dry ingredients into a large bowl and then rub in the butter with your fingertips.  The mixture should resemble soft bread crumbs.  Press the mixture firmly into the paper-lined tin, making sure to fill right to the edges.

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Fruit Layer:

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and stir to combine,  Keep stirring over moderate heat until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat and spoon evenly over slice base.

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Place your slice into the oven and bake for 35 minutes, until the top is firm.

Glace Icing: (Frosting)

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl and beat until smooth.  Colour a pleasing shade of pink. (Trust me – this is an issue of personal taste.) Place bowl over hot water until the icing is very runny and easy to spread. Pour over warm slice and spread to the edges.

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Allow to cool in tin before removing.  Cut into small squares. DO resist cutting before it cools, as slice takes a few hours to firm up and you’ll be left with a crumbly disaster! **Note – cooling can be hastened by placing in refrigerator…

Store in an airtight tin in a cool place. Goes exceptionally well with a cold glass of lemon cordial, milk or for the grown ups – hot French Earl Grey Tea!

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Rustic Potato Bake Recipe

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“Look at that moon. Potato weather for sure.” 
~ Thornton Wilder, Our Town

I love cooking, and not surprisingly most of our visitors seem to end up dropping in around meal times. This creamy potato bake is easy to make (like all my recipes!) and I whipped this one up to feed the extra hungry mouths that ended up sitting at my table last night.

One of my favourite things in the whole world is friends sharing food, laughing and chatting around the dinner table.  The buzz around here right now is who’ll be performing at Bluesfest, and whether it will be rain, mud and gumboots – or sunshine and clear skies.

But enough of music.  Back to the recipe!

Ingredients:

1 x onion, 2 to 4 x large potatoes, 1 x big golden sweet potato, 300ml cream (1 and a 1/4 cups heavy cream for my American friends), 2 x fat cloves of garlic – crushed, 1 teaspoon of vegetable stock powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon of boiling water, 1 tablespoon of plain flour or gluten-free flour if needed, 1/2 cup of milk, 1/2 cup of grated cheese, salt, pepper, freshly grated nutmeg and a little butter.

When you’re working out quantities, use your eyes!  Allow around 1 decent sized potato or sweet potato/sweet potato chunk per person. Aim for about one cup of vegetable for each adult.  This recipe serves 4 to 6 people as a side dish.  However, 2 hungry people have been known to devour this dish on its own on a cold rainy night at the farm…

Method:

Uee the butter to grease an oven-proof dish big enough to fit your raw ingredients!  Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Thinly slice your potato (if clean no need to peel), sweet potato and onion. Layer the potato, sweet potato and onion into the dish, scattering some cheese in the middle.  Keep a little onion over for the top of the bake. Give a grind of pepper as you go.

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Finish by mixing the cream, milk, stock, garlic and flour together.  The easiest way to do this is in a lidded jar or drink shaker.  Pour the mixture over your potatoes and sprinkle the remaining cheese on the top. Now grate on some fresh nutmeg and a little more pepper.

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Bake for 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours.  The cooking time will vary based on how thick your potato slices are and how deep your dish is – shallow dish or thin slices means it will cook faster.  Deep dish or fat slices will cook slower.

Note: if the top is browning too quickly cover with foil

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This dish goes well with barbecued or roast meats, salads and vegetables.  It can be jazzed up with fresh herbs, different cheeses and bacon.  I also throw in some capsicum (bell pepper) now and again, and swap the nutmeg for smoked paprika.

It reheats well, but is also tasty cold. If you are lucky enough to have left overs…

* To make a delicious vegan version use 1 heaped teaspoon of your favourite curry paste to flavour instead of the cheese, and substitute soy milk or coconut milk for the dairy.

Passionfruit and Lime Curd ~ Passionfruit Butter Recipe

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Two things grow like crazy in our neck of the woods come summer – limes and passionfruit. A friend gave me a bag of old wrinkly-looking passionfruit yesterday and asked if I might still be able to use them.  You bet I can!

Passionfruit are very pretty when they are all firm and plump, but they are usually fine even at their wrinkliest.  Just check each one carefully before spooning pulp into anything.

This is a delightful variation of my traditional Easy Lemon Butter ~ Lemon Curd Recipe. It makes a smooth, rich curd that can be placed into tart shells and pie bases, or dolloped onto scones, toast, pancakes or ice-cream. It is tangy and sweet, and is also delectable eaten straight from the spoon… (Yes, I am speaking from experience :D!)

Ingredients:

4 large eggs, 3/4 cup sugar, juice and finely grated zest of two limes, 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen passionfruit pulp plus an extra tablespoon or two kept to one side, 125g unsalted butter (4oz or 1/4 pound) chopped into small cubes.  You can use salted butter if it’s all you have to hand, but unsalted makes it taste extra delish.

Ensure all ingredients are ready before you start. (This will make around 2 cups, but you can easily double the quantities for more – that’s what I do so I have some to give away.)

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Method:

Zest and juice your limes, cube your butter and get your passionfruit ready. Lightly whisk your eggs in a small bowl. Then make a double boiler by half filling a saucepan with warm water and bringing it to a very slow simmer, and then snugly fitting a basin over the top.

Pop the sugar, lime zest and eggs into the basin, and begin whisking. (You could use a wooden spoon if you prefer, but I am devoted to my whisk collection!)  Beat until the sugar is dissolved. Then dump in the cubes of butter and whisk again until amalgamated.

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When the butter is melted add in the lime juice and 1/2 cup of passionfruit pulp. Keep whisking over low heart until mixture thickens, which takes about ten minutes. Don’t let it boil or it will curdle. Mind you, if the heat is too low it shall take longer to thicken, but you will get a good arm workout.

Finally the mixture will have a rich, silky texture and shall coat the back of a spoon thickly. Tip in the last two tablespoons of pulp and mix through after you have taken the curd off the heat. It will thicken a little more as it cools.

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Pour into sterilised jars or other lidded containers, and allow to cool on bench before putting on their lids.  Store in refrigerator. It should last about a month, but then again, it will probably be eaten before the use-by date!

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*These recipes give great opportunities for using your new batch of Passionfruit and Lime Butter:

Nana’s Pikelet Recipe (Pikelets are like little pancakes!)

Easy Lemonade Scone Recipe

Bread and Butter Pudding Recipe (Substitute the Passionfruit Butter for the Jam to give a lovely tropical feel to your pudding.)

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Best Coconut Ice Recipe ♥

This is my prize-winning Coconut Ice recipe, which made me almost as much of a Show Queen as my precious cow 767.  It has been entered in many agricultural shows, and won me incredible trophies. As well as the 22 Blue Ribbons and Prize Certificates, this recipe has netted me (among other things…) a tea-towel set, a glass cheese board, a clock set into the tummy of a plastic mouse, and the greatest one of all – a bottle of non-alcoholic sparking wine with a faux French Champagne label that made us all VERY excited. (None of us could read French and the label was tres` impressive!) It tasted so bad that it refreshed the droughty grass outside my kitchen window.

That’s okay.  I always got to eat all of the pieces that didn’t make it into the competitions, and that was the sweetest reward of all.  This is a lovely recipe – easy for non-cooks, and with great keeping qualities. Which is a stupid thing to say really, because it never lasts long enough to prove those qualities.  Make a batch of this and you’ll see what I mean.

Ingredients:

500g icing sugar (4 cups of confectioners sugar for my USA friends), 250g unsweetened dessicated coconut (2 and 1/2 cups), 1/2 cup condensed milk, one egg white, 60g copha (1/3 cup of vegetable shortening), vanilla essence, pink food colouring.

Method:

Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl, and then add the coconut and gently mix through to combine.

Melt your copha and allow to cool slightly.

Whisk the egg white just a little, and add the egg and condensed milk to your dry ingredients. Then add your copha and a slug of vanilla essence ( a teaspoon or so should do it).

Mix until well combined into a firm, moist mass.  Divide the mixture in half, and colour one batch a cheerful pink with your food colouring.

Press the white mixture into the bottom of a baking paper lined tin.  Smooth out with the back of a spoon, and then gently press the pink layer over the top.  Smooth and press in well with your spoon and then refrigerate until set (about 2 hours).  Remove from tin and cut into bars or small squares.  It will only need to be refrigerated if you live in a hot climate.  Or you could just eat it all…

Perfect for gifts, or with a cup of tea as a happy-making treat.

Berry Nice Fruit Crumble Recipe

This is one of those desserts you just throw together. It’s fantastically easy and it tastes like heaven in a bowl. It comes to you courtesy of the mulberry tree in my back yard, and the amplitude of strawberries in my refrigerator.  I would like to claim that I grew the strawberries too, but alas, between Bert and the blue tongued lizard, there are never any strawberries left for human consumption in my vegetable garden.

Be careful of the mulberries. Their juice will stain fingers, chopping boards and clothes. But a green mulberry rubbed over the stain of a ripe mulberry works just like an eraser. Who would have thought? (Thanks to my grandmother, Marga, for that tip. They had a mulberry tree on their farm that we would climb as little kids to gorge ourselves on the fruit.)

Here’s a pic of the mulberries which actually made it into the bowl yesterday (as opposed to my mouth…).

While you are preparing your fruit, turn on the oven and preheat to 160 degrees celcius (gas mark 3, or 325 degress farenheit). Drop the temp just a little more if your oven is fan forced. By the way, this recipe serves 6 people. Less if the people at your table are starving or piggy people, more if your people are small-child sized or have already enjoyed a good dinner.

Fruit: 1 large granny smith (or other firm cooking) apple, peeled and chopped into small pieces; 1 punnet (about 1 1/2 cups) of strawberries washed, hulled and chopped; 1 1/2 cups of mulberries or other soft sweet berries – washed and stalks removed; 2 tablespoons strawberry jam.  Mix fruit and jam gently together until combined. If the jam is very thick add a little boiling water to thin enough to mix through.

 

Crumble topping: 1 cup plain (all purpose) flour, 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup flaked almonds, 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, 1/4 cup raw (demerara) sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 heaped teaspoon lemon zest.  Rub butter into the dry ingredients with the tips of your fingers until it looks like breadcrumbs. **This can so easily be made with gluten-free flour!!!

Place fruit into a greased pie dish. Dump crumble mixture on top and use your fingers to press it out to the edges of the dish. Place on a baking sheet and put into oven. Bake 30 minutes, or until lightly browned on top, and bubbly at edges.

Serve your crumble with good vanilla icecream or some pouring cream. It would also be good with yoghurt. Enjoy!

 

Orange, Walnut and Fennel Salad Recipe

The orchard at our farm is laden with citrus at this time of year, so whipping up a tasty salad is easier than ever.  This salad is perfect with crusty bread, and can be a vegetarian meal on its own (vegan if we omit the feta) or a perfect side for a barbeque or roast. It goes beautifully with grilled fish or chicken.

Ingredients to serve four generously:

4 cups of salad leaves (using rocket, mustard greens, radish tops or other leaves with a little bite to them contrasts well with the oranges), a fennel bulb or two, a bunch of fresh chard if available (or add in two cups of baby spinach), one small red onion, two large oranges cut into segments (if you’re mad on oranges feel free to add another one!), a generous handful of walnuts, 1/2 a cup of olives, optional – 1 cup of feta cheese chunks.

Method:

Clean and wash your salad greens, and tear leaves into smaller pieces if desired. Finely chop the fennel. Slice your onion into thin rings or pieces and arrange in the serving bowl.

Arrange the leaves, fennel and onion in your serving bowl

Now chop your chard, cutting the stalks into small pieces and roughly shredding the leaves.  Add these in and toss well with your hands to combine the ingredients.

Isn’t this chard the most heavenly colour!

Segment your oranges over a bowl, keeping back the excess juice to use in the dressing.  If you don’t know how to segment oranges, watch this video:

Arrange your orange segments, walnuts and olives on the top of the salad.  If you’re using feta cheese, chuck that on too. Just before serving, pour on the dressing.

I find it important for the chef to taste some of the orange segments and olives to make sure it’s all up to standard…

Dressing:

1/4 cup orange juice, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon Dijon-style prepared mustard, 1 to 2 teaspoons honey, a grind or two of cracked pepper and a pinch of salt.  Put all the ingredients in a small jar, add lid and shake vigorously to combine.  This is an oil-free dressing that is light and flavorsome.

Salad Variations:

Add cooked, sliced chicken breast for a complete meal.

Sliced cooked lamb fillet is wonderful for a warm salad.

Substitute cherry tomatoes for feta, and add fresh peeled prawns (shrimp) – this is one of my favourite salads!

Enjoy! ♥ xx

Best Easy Stewed Rhubarb Recipe

Stewed Rhubarb served with Baked Custard. Delish!

As much as I am grateful for gratitude (and my 30 Day Gratitude Challenge) I am also currently very grateful for rhubarb – and I don’t think I can last another 2 weeks without some sort of food post.  So here it is – Blissful Best Rhubarb!

Ingredients: fresh rhubarb, raw sugar, lemon

Method:  Wash rhubarb stems and remove ends and leaves. Cut into inch-long chunks. Weigh your finished amount.  Throw rhubarb into a saucepan and add 20% of the weight of the rhubarb in raw sugar to the pot as well.  Then add a sqeeze of fresh lemon.

Now stir over low heat, and then cover.  Remove lid and stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick – don’t have your heat up too high or it will!

The rhubarb will cook down in its own juices, and that will take ten to fifteen minutes depending on how much you have, and how hot your pot is!

Finish with another small squeeze of lemon. The rhubarb will now be soft, with a few large chunks left, and that lovely sweet/tart pink stringy goodness.

Serve with fresh cream, ice-cream or my favourite – baked custard.  If you’re lucky enough to have left-overs this will brighten up any breakfast cereal and also goes well with yoghurt.  Enjoy!

PS  – Here’s my delicious baked custard recipe here

Creamed Rice Pudding Recipe

“It’s  lovely rice pudding for dinner again.” ~ A.A. Milne

Winter has well and truly arrived Down Under. It’s freezing in Brisbane right now. (Well, as freezing as sub-tropical can be…) Puts me in the mind to eat warm foods, and there is nothing better than my Nana’s Creamed Rice Pudding, a velvety-smooth vanilla rice concoction. This is another fantastically simple recipe which is equally good eaten warm, or served icy cold from the fridge for all my friends who are enjoying summer on the other side of the world.

Nana always prepared this as a dessert, but I must admit to also having eaten it for breakfast and as a filling snack.

It never lasts long around here. Want the proof of that?

The rice pudding thief broke in and stole my dinner…

I cooked a double batch of creamed rice, and served some up immediately. Who could resist it when it was warm and smelled so heavenly?  After my initial consumption I had intended to take some pretty photographs with my remaining rice pudding, arranged with berries and some little wafers, but when I came back to do so, the pot had been scraped nearly clean. Luckily I had taken a few shots of my rather less exotic creamed rice and stewed cinnamon apple lunch! (Click here to find out how to make the stewed apple)

This recipe is gluten-free and can easily be adapted to be vegan, dairy or sugar free too.

Here’s what you need to do to make this rice pudding for yourself:

Ingredients: 4 cups of milk (1 litre), pinch of salt, 1/3 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup short grain white uncooked and unrinsed rice, 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  This recipe is easily doubled – just make sure you use a large enough pot. (Note – you can also use stevia or another sugar substitute. The milk can be swapped for soy milk, almond or rice milk.) A single batch will make four small serves.

Method: Place milk in a large saucepan.  Add the sugar and salt, then stir over low heat until sugar has dissolved. Bring to boil.

Don’t you love this action shot with the steam rising from my milk and sugar mixture?

Slowly add rice.  Return heat to a slow swimmer.  Stir every so often, leaving uncovered.  It will take about 60 minutes for your pudding to cook, depending on how low you have your heat. Add a little more milk if needed. Test the rice – if it is soft, and the mixture is thick and creamy, it is ready. Stir through your vanilla, taste test again. Note – Pudding will thicken more as it cools.

About midway through cooking; the rice is swelling and the starch from the unrinsed rice is slowly thickening the milk.

This rice pudding can be served warm or cold.  It is delicious served with canned, stewed or fresh fruits. A sprinkling of nutmeg on top is also yummy! Enjoy. ❤

Not arty, but tasty!