Thursday, October 15, 2009

Celebrating Gourmet Magazine

When it was announced last week that Gourmet Magazine would be ceasing publication, I was devastated along with half the food blogging world. I had been a subscriber for ten years and had just gotten my notice for renewal the day before.

What made it even worse for me was that a few weeks ago, in the quest to downsize my life a bit, I had taken the two boxes of Gourmet and gone through them; removing the recipes I wanted to keep and recycling the rest of the magazine. There was only about 25 complete magazines, including the annual Thanksgiving and Christmas issues when I was done. To say I was sick to my stomach over what I had done would be an understatement.

This culling of my magazines made participating in Julie of A Mingling of Tastes event to Celebrate Gourmet, both more difficult and a little easier. Hard because I thought of all the recipes I had flipped through and the lovely covers that were now somewhere in a recycling facility somewhere in Fairfield County. Easy because I didn't have to flip through one hundred and twenty issues of Gourmet to find what I was going to make.

In the end, I settled on two recipes I had been eyeing:

Meatballs from the January 2009 issue

Meatballs from Jan 09 Gourmet

and Spanish Rice Pudding from the Last Touch section of the February 2009 issue.

Spanish Rich Pudding from Feb 09 Gourmet

My love of meatballs is well documented here at The Sour Dough. Not to mention, that given my schedule of late, they are quick and easy to make. I made these with full intention of following up with the ragu recipe they were paired with in Gourmet but I ended up eating them straight off the paper towel I set them on to cool.

What you probably didn't know is my absolute love and devotion to rice pudding. If I had to name the ultimate comfort food for me it would be rice pudding.

I have often made the original baked rice pudding recipe that Gourmet has updated several times over the years. I also fell in love with a stove top recipe from a few years ago that they ran in a "Best Of" issue. Nothing though prepared me for the incredible mingling of flavors in the Spanish Rice Pudding.

There is lemon and cinnamon and vanilla. The lemon was the surprise for me. Why hadn't I ever thought to lemon in rice pudding? It makes total sense now that I think about it. Lemon would really bring out the zip and zing in cinnamon and heighten the sweetness in the vanilla.

There is only one thing I would change the next time I make this pudding, which given how cold, rainy, and damp it is suppose to be this weekend, will probably be on Friday night, is I would use a bit less milk. I like my pudding a bit thicker.

It is these types of "Ah HA's" that I will miss every bit as much as I will miss the fantastic photographs, the interesting stories on place and how food can define place, the "Last Touch", the book and movie reviews, and most of all the recipes of Gourmet.

Or maybe, some way, or some how there will be a last minute reprieve from the governor...

Spanish Rice Pudding
from the February 2009 issue of Gourmet Magazine (1940 - 2009)

1 cup water
1/2 cup long grain white rice
4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
3 (4 inch) strips lemon zest
1 cinnamon stick (3 - 4 inches)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Bring water to boil with 1/4 tsp of salt in large heavy saucepan. Stir in rice and return to a boil. Cook, covered over low heat until water is absorbed, about 18 minutes. Stir in milk, sugar, zest and cinnamon stick and simmer, uncovered stirring often until thickened and rice is tender, 40 minutes to an hour. Stir in vanilla. cool to luke warm in a large shallow bowl. Cover with buttered wax paper to prevent skin from forming. Garnish with cinnamon.

Personal Notes:
- Trust me, 1/2 a cup of rice is enough. Don't be tempted to add more. Reports from the web of people who added more seem to resulted in industrial strength bricks. I was skeptical but when the rice cooked up and the pudding thickened, each bite was chock full of rice

- 3 cups of milk seems to be the reported magic amount for thicker pudding

- I used my microplane to zest my lemon. I'm glad I did because I think it ready spread the lemon through the pudding

- I didn't cover the pudding. I love "pudding skins" and next to eating this for dinner last night right from the pan, I kept getting up from my stool at the breakfast bar where I was working to peel off the pudding skins as they formed.