It’s probably not at all surprising that it’s during the holidays that I miss my family the most. Easter was always a time to spend with family. Going to Easter Mass then home for Easter lunch. My favourite thing and one of the things I miss the most is Portuguese sweet bread. It’s a little bit like brioche but better. I don’t have the confidence to try it, yet, but I will make it!
The other thing I loved was Portuguese arroz dooce (sweet rice). My Vavo (grandmother) made the best sweet rice in the world, fact. I could tell if my Madrinha (godmother) made it instead of my vavo and it became a bit of a game where they tried to trick me into eating my madrinha’s arroz doce telling me it was my vavo’s. I could ALWAYS tell the difference. I couldn’t put my finger on the differnce but it was there. I think my madrinha took it as a challenge, after all it was her mother’s recipe, she learned it from my vavo, they lived in the same house and used the same ingredients, but still, I could tell the difference.
It will be 10 years in May that I moved to England and I lived in South Caroline for 8 years before moving here. Add the 1 year I lived back home in Massachusetts waiting for my Portuguese citizenship to come through so I could move to the UK and it’s been almost 20 years since I lived surrounded by my Portuguese family.
This year I decided that I have to learn to make the food I loved from my childhood. I mean it’s not like I’m going to be living in a Portuguese community any time soon, so I’m it!
The first thing I decided to try was my vavo’s arroz doce. I searched and searched on line for a recipe that sounded and looked like her recipe. In the end I combined a couple of them and made my own. The thing with my vavo’s sweet rice is the consistency. It’s thick. you can slice it and eat it like a bar. Most of the recipes were too soupy but after a couple of tries I think I cracked it. It’s not my vavo’s but it’s as close as I’m going to get.
Serves: 1 large serving platter or 6 individual plates
- 1 cup/128 grams white short grain rice
- 2 1/2 cups/ 320 millilitres skim milk
- 1 cup/ 128 grams caster sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/2 lemon peel
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Pinch of salt
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1hr 20 minutes
- In a pot bring 2 cups water to a boil.
- Add rice, stir for around 2 minutes then drain the water.
- Add one cup milk, lemon peel and a pinch of salt to your rice.
- Simmer at very low heat, occasionally mixing to prevent the rice from sticking to the pot.
- When the rice starts to absorb the liquids, add more milk.
- Simmer over low heat & continue to stir occasionally.
- Once the rice has again started to absorb the milk, add more milk a bit at a time until you’re left w/ about 1/2 cup of milk.
- Add one cup of sugar and stir.
- In a small bowl, whisk together 4 egg yolks with the remaining 1/2 cup of milk.
- Add to the pot of rice with a tablespoon of butter.
- Mix thoroughly and often to prevent sticking over low heat.
- Continue to simmer until the rice absorbs all the liquid and rice is thoroughly cooked.
- Remove lemon peels.
- Pour your sweet rice onto individual plates or a serving platter.
- Decorate with cinnamon.
- Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.
I mixed things up a bit and served it w/ morello cherry compote and it was delicious. I got the idea from a Scandi tradition I heard about over Christmas. The only thing I would change is, if you’re going to eat the arroz doce warm, which is what I did when I served it w/ the morello cherry compote I would decrease the sugar. When it’s warm it tastes sweeter than when it’s cooled.
Please do let me know if you try it- I’d love to hear what you thought of it.