Creamy, Cheesy, Garlicky Rice with Spinach {FFwD}

OK, let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: this is not risotto. Sure, it’s made with Arborio rice cooked in broth and it has aromatics, butter, cream, and cheese added to it. But it’s not risotto.

What makes it “not risotto” is the fact that the rice is put on the stove with all the broth added to it and allowed to cook, unattended, until the broth has mostly absorbed and the rice is tender. Risotto, by contrast, is made by adding the broth a little at a time and cooking until it is absorbed before adding more.

Dorie Greenspan goes to great lengths in Around My French Table to explain that this is not risotto. And I suppose that’s why she gave the recipe such a long, descriptive, non-risotto name. Personally, I would’ve just called it Creamy Rice. Whatever it’s called, it was this week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie.

Because you don’t have to attend to the rice while it cooks, this recipe comes together pretty quickly. After putting the rice on the stove, I cooked some spinach with a little salt, until it wilted and lost most of its volume.

While the spinach cooled, I sautéed onions and garlic in butter.

Then it was just a matter of stirring the rice and spinach into the onion mixture and adding cheese and cream.

I served the creamy rice with turkey sausage for a simple, delicious dinner. Risotto purists might object to the texture of the rice, which was more gooey than risotto should be. But no one would complain about the flavor. The garlic and spinach complimented each other well and were the predominate flavors in the dish.

Why the French make their not-risotto this way, well, I suppose only the French know. But one thing I know is that, while it won’t replace traditional risotto in my kitchen, this is a dish that will make repeated appearances on my French table.

Mango & Rice Tart (Pudding) {ModBak}

I’ve been involved with the Modern Baker Challenge for a little over a year now. Some recipes have been bigger hits with my family than others, and I enjoyed the process of baking some of them more than others. But each of the nearly 70 recipes I’ve made so far has come out as expected.

Until now.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have had my first Modern Baker FAIL. Let me say right up front, though, that it was my fault, not that of the recipe. I know exactly what I did wrong, and I’m sure that if I tried baking this recipe again, I could achieve the intended results.

This is actually a rather simple recipe. You cook some rice, make a simple syrup, mix them together with coconut cream, then let the whole thing sit until the rice soaks up all the liquid. This mixture is then scraped into a prebaked cookie tart shell and topped with sliced mangoes.

So, how did I mess this up? On the very first step. I was doing five other things while cooking the rice, and let it scorch a bit. It didn’t burn exactly, but enough of it stuck to the bottom of the pan that there wasn’t sufficient rice to soak up all the liquid. Looking at the filling, I knew there was no way this would hold up as a tart. Picture a fruit pie that doesn’t set up, and you’ll have an idea of what I was facing.

Never one to let a little thing like failure get in my way, I realized the filling was about the texture of Kheer (Indian rice pudding), so I decided to serve it in custard dishes with sliced mangoes on top. My family didn’t know it was supposed to be a tart, and they loved it. And it really did taste like Kheer — sweet, creamy, and oh so coconutty. The mangoes gave the pudding an additional depth of texture and flavor and will be a regular part of my rice pudding and Kheer from now on.

I thought about remaking this recipe, but I feel like I got the true flavors in the pudding. And heaven knows I’ve eaten enough tarts in the past few months.