About Me

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I have recently developed this huge passion for cooking, even though I've been cooking since i was 15 and have been a chef for the last 10 years. I think I am addicted to it. Or am I addicted to eating my cooking? Either way, I want to share my experiences with whom ever is interested. That is why I started this blog. Currently I am self employed as a private/personal chef and a stay at home dad. I am very thankful to have ended my restaurant career not so long ago! It's a hard life, especially when your trying to raise a family! I live in Naples, Florida where I met my beautiful wife while working at a yacht club about 3 years ago. We now have a little 6 month old daughter and life as we know it has changed forever ( for the better)! There is something going on in the food world that is very exciting! People are starting to open their eyes a little. We're going back in time, back to the farm, back to the dinner table. Something that has to be done in my opinion. I spent a lot of time at the dinner table as a child and thought is was very beneficial in how I ended up. The thing I like best about being a chef is that I will never learn it all. Ever!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

How to cure the Monday blues. Rice Pudding of course!

Rice pudding is to Mexicans what mashed potatoes are to Americans-the ultimate comfort food.  Apparently, there are A FEW restaurants in Mexico where you won't find this creamy deliciousness of a  dessert on the menu.  My fellow amigos would call this arroz con leche or rice with milk.  I'm sure every family in Mexico has their own recipe just like every family in America has their own recipe for mashed potatoes or tomato sauce.  The way this dessert smells and tastes, with the vanilla and cinnamon, are gonna take all your trouble away!
In my opinion, it is very easy to make (if your not in a hurry) and not that expensive either.  I was given this recipe from a friend/coworker down here in South Florida.  He said his mother would make this every Sunday and he would look forward to it all week.  You can alter this recipe however you want.  Personally, I don't use any coconut milk or coconut and I don't add the raisin & rum mixture.  Just Jasmine rice, milk, cinnamon sticks, orange peel and vanilla is all I use.  It makes me smile just thinking about it!  Something about the Jasmine rice though, makes it very aromatic.
I hope you all enjoy this post.


Chef Don Paleno

Mexican Coconut Rice Pudding                  Yield: 10 to 12 servings

Water                                                   3 cups
Whole peel of 1 orange, pith removed
2 Cinnamon sticks (each 3 inches long)
Pinch of salt
Long-grain rice (Jasmine)              1 ½ cups
Golden Raisins                                  ¼ cup
Candied orange peel, cut into ¼-inch dice             ¼ cup
Shredded coconut                           ¾ cup
Dark rum                                             ¼ cup
Milk                                                       5 cups
Coconut milk                                      1 cup
Sugar                                                     1 ¼ cups
Pure vanilla extract                         1 tsp
Half-and-half                                     ½ cup

1.        In a large heavy pot, combine the water, orange peel, cinnamon sticks and salt.  Bring to a boil, add the rice, and stir.  Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
2.       While the rice is cooking, toss the raisins, candied orange peel, and ¼ cup of the shredded coconut with the rum.  Set aside.
3.       When the rice is ready, add the milk, coconut milk, sugar, and dried fruits with rum to it.  Increase the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture has thickened, about 50 minutes.  If the liquid boils rapidly, reduce the heat to low.
4.       When the pudding is done, carefully skim off the thin layer of skin that may have formed on the top.  Remove from the heat and discard the orange peel and cinnamon sticks.  Stir in the vanilla.  Cool the pudding slightly.
5.       While the pudding cools, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
6.       Toast the remaining ½ cup shredded coconut in a small pan n the oven until golden brown, about 5 minutes (watch carefully).
7.       When the pudding has cooled slightly, stir in the half-and-half.  Serve lightly chilled or at room temperature, sprinkled with the toasted coconut.

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