Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rice Pudding Cake

I guess it's predictable that my next post would be about food. I've decided to share my favorite recipe with you. And believe me when I say FAVORITE.

It was originally all that talk about milk shakes that put me in the mood for this. This rice pudding cake is rich and creamy. It's the nectar of the gods. Think about it: Rice pudding and cake. Together. Is anybody ever going to be smarter than the person who invented this? No.

Here's what you'll need:

For the rice pudding:
4 1/2 cups milk
1 cup rice (vialone, carnaroli or arborio)
3 strips lemon zest
pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
3 Tbs. butter
5 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the cake:
14 Tbs. butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 Tsp. grated lemon zest
5 egg whites

Start with the rice pudding. In a saucepan, bring the milk, rice, salt and lemon zest to a gentle boil. Slowly add the sugar. Simmer for 40 minutes, stirring it now and then. Don't let it get too well done, it should be a little gooey and runny.

Remove from heat, let cool.

Get to work on the cake. Mix butter with 1/2 cup sugar until light and foamy. Add lemon zest (grated). In a separate bowl, sift together flour and baking powder. Mix flour mixture with butter mixture. Don't worry if it gets weird and kind of hard and funky looking. Just don't overmix it.

Whip the egg whites to peaks, adding the remaining 1 cup sugar. Fold egg whites into cake mixture. And don't worry if this looks even funkier. It should be of a spreading consistency.

Back to the rice pudding: Remove lemon zest from pudding and stir in the butter, vanilla and egg yolks.

Grease and flour a 10-inch springform pan. Then spread the cake mixture into it, scraping it up against the sides of the pan and leaving a kind of well in the middle.

It almost looks like cake frosting, but it's heavier. Then add the rice pudding mixture to the pan:

See those cake bits hanging above the rice pudding? With a spatula, you're going to try to fold them over the rice pudding. It may be hard, and the whole thing may get goopy, but don't worry about it. No matter what you do to this cake, it's going to taste amazing.

Then bake at 300 degrees for 65 minutes. I suggest putting a cookie sheet beneath it, since sometimes it bubbles over. Once you take it out of the oven, let it cool for about 10 minutes before removing the sides of the springform pan. (If you leave them on too long, the cake will get hard.)

Then eat!

Food Fight

This article was making its rounds on Twitter recently. A Saudi man divorced his wife because she failed to put meat in his sambusas. She put cheese instead. According to the article, "he beat her up, divorced her and kicked her out."

I guess Emirates 24/7 was having a slow news day.

I hope you're not thinking that this is a culturally specific event. The only culturally distinguishing feature of that story is the cheese sambusa, because you know the Kentucky man who went postal over breakfast this week was eating eggs and hash browns. Instead of beat/divorce/eject, he grabbed a shotgun and blew his family to bits before turning the weapon on three innocent neighbors -- and then, predictably, himself. He killed five people total, which in my opinion qualifies as "news".

And there's no sense in arguing that THAT is a culturally specific event, because here is a Saudi man who -- distraught over marital problems -- went on a shooting rampage and killed 12 people. There's no telling what he had for breakfast.

The moral of the story? Be careful what you eat.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Milk Sheikh

Here is one incredible sheikh, Mr. Abdel Mohsen Obeikan, Saudi’s Vice Minister of Justice, who came out with new a ruling this summer: Women in Saudi Arabia should breastfeed their cab drivers.

Let me back up a minute and say that when people talk about “rulings” in Saudi, they generally mean fatwas, which technically fall into the category of suggestion, not law. Although certain fatwas can turn into law, or become so well accepted that they might as well BE law, they are still suggestions.

So here’s the back story. In the Hadith – the traditional collection of stories concerning the Prophet Mohammed – it is widely known that if a woman breastfeeds a child, she forms a maternal bond with the baby, whether or not it’s actually her own. This is more than just some fanciful spiritual commerce, this bond is practical. Let’s say a woman breastfeeds a young boy. Years later, when that boy is grown and technically no longer allowed to be in the company of women he’s not related to, he is still allowed to be around the women who breastfed him. She’s like his mother.

So this clever scholar, Mr. Obeikan, presumably advocating for women’s rights, suggested that women pump their breast milk and feed it to their cab drivers, or for that matter, to any man they might have to come into contact with. Think about it. This way women are allowed to interact with strange men! And no law is broken! No suggestion ignored! It works for everyone. The women are happy, and the men are... – can you just see some Filipino cab driver picking a woman up on a street corner, and she’s like: “Um, I’m sorry, I can’t get in your car until you drink my breast milk. I’ve got it right here in a little bottle. You can suck on it while we drive.”

The reaction was an appropriate lambast. A woman’s group who advocates for driving started using the slogan “Either let us drive or breastfeed foreigners.” Some women, aggravated with problems at work, have started threatening to breast-feed their male colleagues. The censors removed Milk Sheikh’s radio program, “Fatwas on Air”. And the Saudi government issued a statement saying only sheikhs approved by the King could issue fatwas from now on. In one way it’s too bad, because Milk was one of the staunchly anti-al-Qaeda guys.

The fiasco inspired this hilarious little poem that includes the word “pornistan.”