Like a lot of us, I love to read food and baking books. I buy some, borrow some from the library and some from friends. Oh yes, am quite greedy here! I own a handful of books, out of which more are about desserts or about baking. In my opinion, most baking , however healthy, is only relatively so, hence can't obviously eat these on a daily basis. I confess that my everyday food more or less revolves around a very familiar, boring menu. I love to spend time on new bakes, desserts and snacks for the kids, but when it comes to everyday food, I treat it as something to get over and done with as early as possible in the morning. It fails to pump that adrenalin in my blood like baking does.
My growing boredom with the food I cook (sounds familiar?) leads me to think I must introduce more variety in our everyday meals, without that overload of calories and fat. And I recently realized that I must get more books on healthy everyday food too, rather than more and more baking books. Of course there is the internet always, but books are books. Period! Can you imagine anything better than curling up on the couch with a good food book for dessert? One of the most blissful things in life...Even better when the book can give you interesting, doable and easy low calorie recipes for everyday food. Makes cooking your everyday meal less monotonous. I like this book by Sanjeev Kapoor titled 'Low Calorie Vegetarian Cookbook'. Which is your favorite book in this genre?
Tried out 'Orange Rice Pudding' from this book. A zesty, unconventional dessert - rice cooked in milk, baked with dates, raisins, orange juice sweetened with a little honey. A simple and refreshing, low fat sweet ending after a summer meal...
I have made minimal changes in the recipe adding more dates and less of raisins as the former gets more votes in the family..
Rice - 1/3 cup
Skimmed milk - 3 cups (the recipe has 2 cups)
Seedless dates, chopped -1/3 cup
Raisins- 2 tablespoons (original recipe has 1/2 cup)
Freshly squeezed orange juice - 1/2 cup
Orange zest - 1/2 teaspoon (refer note)
Vanilla essence - 1/4 teaspoon
Honey - 1 1/2 tablespoons (even less will do fine, refer note)
Procedure: Soak the rice in enough water for half an hour. Soak raisins in water for fifteen minutes. Squeeze out the excess water. Drain the rice.
Boil milk in a non-stick pan. Add the drained rice, lower the heat and cook till the rice is soft . I had to add more milk by the time the rice was cooked. I also wanted some milk left with the rice as I wanted to serve the pudding chilled. If you wish to serve the pudding warm, more milk may not be needed as there is no fear of the liquid being absorbed when the pudding chills.
Once the rice is cooked, cool it to room temperature. In the meantime, pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees C. Whisk the orange zest into the juice with a fork. This is to avoid clumps of zest in the pudding. Add the dates, raisins, honey, vanilla and the orange juice. Transfer this to an oven proof dish and bake for 15 minutes. Serve warm or chilled.
You can change the quantities of the dry fruit to suit your taste. But the quantity of honey may vary depending on the kind and quantity of the dry fruit. Though I have not made a drastic change here, I found the pudding surprisingly sweet even when chilled. It would have been better with just one tablespoon of honey. Do go by your taste and preference.