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Strawberries With Balsamic Vinegar and Coconut Milk Rice Pudding

June 3, 2006

Serves 6.


For strawberries:

1 1/2 pounds strawberries

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup sugar

1 bottle balsamic vinegar (approximately 12 ounces)

Juice and peel of one orange, preferably naval

Juice and peel of 1 medium lemon

20 leaves of lemon balm or mint


For coconut milk rice pudding:

2 1/2 to 3 cups of unsweetened coconut milk (approximately 2 cans)

1 cup arborio or other rice for risotto

1 pinch salt

1/4 cup finely grated coconut (may be grated in the food processor)

1/4 cup powdered sugar or to taste

2 tablespoons white rum or to taste

1/2 cup whipping cream


For the strawberries: Hull and slice the strawberries. Set aside. Heat the honey and the sugar carefully in a small, heavy pot. When hot, and the sugar dissolved, turn up the heat and carefully bring to a caramel color. Cover your hand with a tea towel or oven mitt and pour in the balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan. Bring to the boil and boil briefly until thickened. Add the juice and peel of the orange and lemon. Taste. Add more sugar if desired. Add some of the lemon balm or mint leaves to infuse, saving the prettier one for garnish.

For the pudding: Heat the milk carefully in a heavy pan. Add the rice and the salt. Cook over medium heat until the liquid is absorbed. Taste. If it needs to cook longer and has too much "bite," add water or more coconut milk and cook longer until the rice is tender to the tooth but not soft. Once cooked to your liking, remove from the heat, cool and add the grated coconut, sugar to taste, rum and whipping cream. Chill until ready to shape.

To assemble dessert: Using two spoons or your hands, shape the chilled rice pudding into rounds or ovals, and move each to a serving plate. Drizzle the sauce around, add sliced strawberries and garnish with lemon balm or mint as desired. The remaining strawberries may be added to the remaining sauce and passed for the guests to ladle on their own, as well.

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