Sunday, March 4, 2012

Rice Pudding Las Vegas Style

I'm very blessed. I'm enjoying the winter in Palm Springs, CA in one of the wonderful homes previously owned by Dinah Shore. Known as a singer, actor and television show host Dinah was also the first cooking show host to hit the television screen. A child of the "Rat Pack" era, her home is filled with signed memorabelia and reminders of who she was during her lifetime. How much fun is watching oldies like this:

One of the three of Dinah Shore's published vintage cookbooks is in the house and as I'm sitting in the kitchen I'm feeling inspired to recreate something that she actually prepared.

The other very fun thing is reading the preambles that were written for each recipe and how they've documented all the symbolism of her life. The first recipe I decided to recreate is called Rice Pudding from the Riviera Hotel. Here's Dinah's preamble:

One night after that second show at the Riviera in Vegas, I sat down with a couple of hungry show folk and let me tell you - I'll put them up against any hungry group and that includes ball players, opera stars or lumberjacks. Vic Damone started the whole thing. He ordered rice pudding. Since he was playing the Flamingo, it was kind of a shocker for me to find that he came to the Riviera for his rice pudding, along with Shecky Greene and Don Rickles of the Sahara. It was great! I begged Mr. Gruber, Food Chief of the Riviera, for the recipe for Pauline and me.

He finally gave it to me - ten years later - and then only because of Lorne Greene, who was going to be a guest on my television show. Lorne had lost 60 pounds on that famous Duke University Rice Diet and I didn't want him to kick the rice habit cold turkey so I S.O.S.'s Mr. Gruber. Here's why it took ten years sending it to me. The recipe called for 6 pounds of rice, 60 eggs, 20 quarts of milk, etc. He broke it down to this:

1/2 cup regular rice
1 cup water, salted
1 quart whole milk
1/8 lb (1/2 stick) butter
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup plump raisins
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon

Pour rice slowly into rapidly boiling, slightly salted water in a large pot. Do not stir. Cover tightly and cook exactly 7 minutes, at which time all the water will be absorbed and the rice will be slightly undone. Add the milk and butter. Stir a little. Bring to a boil, cover and cook slowly over a low flame for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, beat eggs, add sugar, raisins and vanilla. Pour the mixture into the rice, stirring slowly until the rice starts to thicken. Serve hot, warm or cold with a mixture and cinnamon and sugar sprinkled lightly and evenly over the top.

This should serve 4 people, unless they're show folk, in which case it will serve 2.

Verdict: We had surprise company just as I finished making this - nothing left - enough said. I can totally see why it was such a huge hit in Las Vegas!!!



bellini said...

Definitely an exciting place to spend the winter Giz. Love places with a little history behind them.

That Girl said...

I had no idea Dinah Shore was a food maven.