January 28, 2010

Meyer Lemon Rice Pudding {Webisode #10}

My Day So Far: 5:30am wake-up from daughter looking for a lost toy in her crib, grocery shopping (Meyer lemons!), laundry, preparing for pre-school interview tomorrow(!)

Naptime Goals: Make Meyer Lemon Rice Pudding, set-up daughter’s ladybug tent, catch up on thank you notes and emails.

Tonight’s Meal: Leftover Chicken Scallopini, green beans with walnuts, rice pudding for dessert.

Parenting Lesson of the Day: When children get bored during errands give them a “job”, like holding the box of rice while you finish the grocery shopping.

If the horticulture gods granted me one wish, I would ask for Meyer lemon trees in my backyard. Of course, for that to happen I would need to move to a place in New York City where I actually had a backyard, but that’s a whole different wish. Of all fruits in the whole entire world I would like access to everyday, year round, it is Meyer lemons. Luckily, as you’ll see in the video, these days I can simply walk down the street to Gourmet Garage which carries them while they are in season. Needless to say, during this time of year I am their best customer, my daughter has memorized the layout of the entire store at age two, that’s how frequently we go.

It’s not that regular lemons aren’t perfectly good, it’s just that Meyer lemons are exceptionally good. A cross between a lemon and mandarin orange, Meyer lemons have a milder, almost more lemony taste. They are tart, sure, but not quite as sour as a regular lemon. I’ve long been extolling the virtues of Meyer lemons, writing about a favorite recipe for Meyer Lemon Sables last year. This year I’m here with another dessert, a smooth and creamy Meyer Lemon Rice Pudding. Yes, you can make this with regular lemons if that’s all you have available, but I highly recommend Meyer whenever possible. With the latter the flavor of this pudding is lighter and slightly more sweet, somewhat like eating lemonade pie without the need for whipped cream to lighten it up.

Since I only make this dessert doing the winter I like to do it during my daughter’s naptime when I don’t have any other cooking to do. This way I don’t race through the steps, and can take time enjoy the assembly of one of our favorite winter sweet treats. As you’ll see here, making this isn’t complicated, it just requires careful monitoring on the stove to make sure the rice doesn’t burn or bubble over. Once it is baked I let it cool to room temperature before putting it in the fridge. Though, I’ll be honest, it’s hard to resist a few spoonfuls the second it’s out of the oven; I frequently burn my mouth a teeny bit on the first few bites. Even once it’s in the fridge I’ll freely admit that I can be found dipping my spoon in it all day long, it’s just too hard to resist. I’m afraid I’ve already passed this habit onto my daughter, she frequently has a few bites for a snack after nap, then a big bowl after dinner.

Before I give you the recipe, I should also mention that Meyer lemons are excellent for flavoring beverages (lemon drops!), appetizers (shrimp!), main courses (lemon risotto!) and even salads (squeeze into salad dressing!). Use them anywhere you might use a regular lemon and see if you notice the flavor difference. One of my favorite things to do is place a dollop of mascarpone cheese, Meyer lemon zest and juice, and a few cranks of black pepper into the bottom of a heatproof glass bowl then add a heap of freshly cooked linguine. I swirl the cheese mixture into the pasta and call it “Lemon Pepper Pasta.” But that’s a whole different post.


Meyer Lemon Rice Pudding

adapted from a recipe by my friend Barbara


¾ c. long grain rice
2 c. whole milk
2/3 c. sugar
½ c. heavy cream
2 large eggs
1 t. vanilla extract

Zest of 2 Meyer lemons* (About 2 T.)

Juice of 2 Meyer lemons (About 2-3 T.)

*If Meyer lemons are not available, a regular lemon will suffice.


1. Preheat oven to 350ยบ. Butter a 2 quart casserole dish and set aside.

2. In a saucepan bring 2 cups of water to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat and add the rice. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until most of the water is absorbed.

2. With the heat on, add the milk and sugar, stir it in with a wooden spoon and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. The remove from heat and stir in the cream.

3. In a separate bowl beat the eggs with a whisk, then pour the warm rice mixture into them, stirring well.

4. Finally, add in the lemon zest, juice and vanilla and give mixture one final stir to incorporate everything. The pudding will still somewhat loose at this point, but it will firm up in the oven.

5. Pour the mixture into the casserole dish and place the dish in a large pan or roasting pan. Add warm water until it reaches 1″ up the side of the dish to create a warm water bath.

6. Bake for 1 hour, or until knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Naptime Notes

Naptime Recipe Serving ideas

If you want to ramp up the lemon taste even more add more zest. Or, if you’d prefer a slightly different taste add a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg to play up the vanilla flavor notes.

Naptime Stopwatch

Preparing the batter takes about 20 minutes, then it’s one hour of baking and a little time for cooling.

Naptime Reviews

Rice pudding is comfort food at it’s finest, everyone in our family loves it. I’ve also served it to guests and they’ve given it rave reviews as well.