Keeping with my current theme of creamy, custardy desserts, I started fantasising about the ultimate rice pudding the other day. I have long thought that Arborio rice would make the most excellent warm winter pudding. I decided that, as I was contemplating rice pudding made from Arborio rice, I ought to treat it like a regular risotto, only sweet. One of my favourite all time risottos comes with peas, cream and bacon. Thinking about the fruit possibilities akin to peas put me in mind of blueberries.
I used frozen blueberries for this as I find, even in the height of summer, they are often bigger, juicier and more flavourful than the fresh kind. Also, it’s winter. So blueberries = imported = flavourless = $7 a pint.
Once I’d decided on blueberries, my mind leapt quite logically to sour cream.
In the summer of 1991, I had a job installing telephones for the phone company. A surprising side benefit to this job was getting fed by hordes of little old ladies home during the day. I was fed all manner of good things and plied with countless cups of tea. The one feeding I most remember was the little old lady who gave me a bowl of fresh strawberries topped with sour cream and brown sugar. I was a bit put off when she told me what it was, but I agreed to try it and didn’t want to be rude in the face of this sweet offering, so I closed my eyes and forced the spoon into my mouth. I have maintained my love affair with berries and sour cream ever since. I agree that it must sound weird to the uninitiated, but once you try it, you will be a sour-cream-and-berries convert.
Now you understand how my mind leapt from rice pudding to risotto to blueberries to sour cream.
1 cup arborio rice
1 Tbsp butter
3 cups milk
½ cup sugar
Tiny pinch each of nutmeg and cinnamon
Vanilla pod (or good vanilla extract, or both, I'm always liberal with the vanilla and my cupboard sports at least 4 varieties of vanilla product at any one time - including a bottle of home made vanilla bean alcohol that has been in use for 5 years - I just keep adding more bourbon or rum and vanilla beans as I go- and home made vanilla sugar)
¼ to ⅓ cup sour cream, depending on your taste
1 ½ cups big, plump blueberries, fresh or frozen
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp butter
1 Tbsp water
Put rice, butter and 1 cup of milk in a saucepan and bring to a good simmer, stirring occasionally. If you have a vanilla pod, split it down the centre and place that in the pan as well. Stir in the tiny pinches of nutmeg and cinnamon.
Add the remaining 2 cups of milk, ½ cup at a time, stirring until absorbed. Remove from heat and remove the pod (if there was one) and scrape its seeds out into the risotto. You can rinse and dry to pod and pop it into your vanilla-alcohol bottle if you keep one, or wait for it to dry and pop it in with your vanilla sugar. If you’ve not used a vanilla pod, add a generous teaspoon of the best vanilla you can find. Stir in the sugar. Set the risotto aside.
In a non-stick pan, combine the sugar, butter and water over med-hi heat until it melts, bubbles furiously and starts to colour. Stir in the vanilla and the blueberries. And cook for 2 minutes more (3-5 if using frozen berries). Remove pan from heat.
Stir the sour cream through the risotto and heap risotto portions into dessert bowls. Top with berries and a drizzling of the blueberry syrup.
If there are leftovers, hide them from your husband or he will eat them all while you are at work which is very unfair and unromantic to boot.
If you make this on the same night as you make the seafood cobbler, hide that as well, or he might also finish the 4 whole leftover servings all by himself, so that when you arrive home longing for a steaming bowl you are greeted by the sight of the empty 4 litre casserole dish sitting neglected on the counter.