Monks in a Jam

One of my favorite TV segments of all time was created on my trip to Spencer, Massachusetts; visiting Father Robert at St. Joseph's Abbey, seeing how Trappist Preserves are made and how it came to be. It was one of the most inspirational experiences to witness the dedication and commitment to a lifestyle that gives so many people pleasure. In fact, the Trappist Monks create a bit of happiness in every serving. I mean- who doesn't smile after having jam on toast? Better yet, really good jam! 

George Hirsch TV Segment: Trappist Preserves

Mother Earth, Ireland

I know I have raved more than once about Myrtle Allen + Ballymaloe in Ireland. She has touched my heart and left me and my TV crews with food memories that we will always cherish. So join me as she gives me a glimpse into how she made necessity a destination that keeps people from all over the world coming back for more.

George Hirsch Lifestyle TV Segment: Video Travel Ireland

Georgie Porgie Pudding

Oh, how I hated that rhyme growing up, it meant it was time to put up your dukes. It doesn't quite have the same affect anymore. Nowadays the idea of pudding stirs up nostalgic memories of my Nana making batches of her rice pudding. Nana would serve it warm on a cold night or chilled on a sticky summer's night. She might even top it with a little glazed meringue, because just a simple blob of whipped cream just wouldn’t do. I was also led to believe that comforting rice pudding had curative properties. If not feeling well, a healthy scoop was the remedy in my house. I guess that’s why the Romans ate rice pudding as a cure for upset stomachs?

Having really no economic barrier and universal appeal- I’ve seen rice pudding on restaurant menus from diners and joints (my favorite place to find RP) to high-end linen napkin on-your-lap digs. Personally I‘ve made more batches than I can even remember. Here are a few variations that come to mind; Rum Raisin, Berry, Pomegranate, Coconut Mango and Banana. Keep in mind, I made mega batches. I prepared rice pudding batches to feed a daily buffet for about 10,000 people with list of ingredients like; 18 gallons milk, 12 pounds of rice, 12 pounds sugar. Email me if you need the full recipe.  

Making a batch for 10 thousand or 10 hungry people at home is pretty easy, as most ingredients are probably already in the pantry and can even be made by using leftover plain cooked rice. 

TIPS: Knowing your grains is important, as each type of rice will provide different results. Here are your options; long or short grain white rice, brown, basmati, or jasmine. Cooking times and consistencies will vary wildly, ok maybe widely. Long grain rice makes a pudding that is slightly drier and chewier than one made with short grain rice. While brown rice will be nuttier. Arborio rice is starchier and therefore can set up without addition of eggs. Cooking times will also depend on the type of rice, along with the amount of milk used. 

Other important tips: Do not combine any sugar to rice until the rice kernels are completely tender or the starch will begin to set and harden and will not become additionally tender. Do not use converted rice as it contains pre-gelatinized starch, which will not thicken rice properly. To keep a skin from forming over rice pudding, sprinkle a small amount of granulated sugar over the top as soon as you pour the pudding out of the pot.

Experiment with your own favorite flavorings and styles, and serve it up on your next tailgate, more formal occasion or just when you need a Nana pick-me-up! Enjoy!

My Basic, But Good Rice Pudding Recipe