Me, pondering half a milk crate on Assateague Island.
I really need one of these to carry groceries on my bike!
Iâ€™d like to invent a new meal, like brunch, but not quite. If brunch is somewhere between breakfast and lunch, what would you call a breakfast-dessert combination? I realize that several other meals come between breakfast and dessert so theyâ€™re not adjacent time wise. Still, many of us like to start and end the day with something sweet. Among these sweet dishes, a few gems can show up on either the breakfast table or the dessert tray: coffee cakes, pastries, waffles…okay, so maybe there are a lot of really unhealthy breakfasts out there that are actually just dessert in disguise. There are also treats nutritious enough to be morning fuel and stand in as healthful, sweet-tooth satisfying desserts.
This pudding is one such treat. A creamy, whole-grain, slightly sweet bowl of mush may not sound like dessert but believe me, itâ€™s heavenly. Itâ€™s not particularly photogenic, as you can see, but it tastes much better than it looks! Rice pudding lovers everywhere must give millet a try. With extra cooking and plenty of liquid, millet breaks down into a starchy soup that naturally congeals to make a perfect pudding. Itâ€™s nutty flavor pairs well with warm spices and milk – dairy and non-dairy alike. Iâ€™ve never made rice pudding but itâ€™s been on my list for a while. Yesterday I was craving something different in the pudding category and remembered a millet congee Iâ€™d made last winter. While not a dessert, the congee had an amazing texture and could have gone in either a sweet or savory direction. Couldnâ€™t millet make a nice a pudding, too? After a little research, I came up with a millet pudding recipe that uses a pressure cooker. With a little adaptation, I had a version that suited me and my ingredients.
I am just beginning to explore the joys of my pressure cooker. It was a birthday present from Lee, who knows the benefits of quick, efficient cooking. I have successfully made a couple batches of brown rice that came out beautifully, required a fraction of the conventional cooking time, and freed up the stove top for me to prepare the rest of the meal. The amount of time it takes for the pressure to drop after cooking is just enough for a stir fry.
The pressure cooker worked very well for this pudding. The rice pudding recipe in the booklet that came with the cooker does things a little differently. It calls for cooking the rice in one pressure session, then adding the milk, raisins, etc. and pressure cooking everything to make the pudding. That seemed like an overly involved process for a simple dessert and Iâ€™m getting stingy with the propane as our cylinder gets low. I went with a throw everything in the pot and cook it once technique. Iâ€™ll try making a non-pressure cooker version and post the conventional method when I do.
I intended to add a cinnamon stick to the mixture before cooking but completely forgot until the pot was all sealed up. Instead, I stirred in a teaspoon of cinnamon after the pudding was cooked and it added a perfect hit of spice. Add a cinnamon stick as I originally intended or put the ground spice in at the beginning if youâ€™d like. The pudding gets just a bit of sweetness from the dates. It was just about perfect for me but adding a few more dates would bump up the natural sweetness. Lee topped his pudding with agave nectar so we both got our dessert the way we liked it.
Millet Pudding for dessert or breakfast)
Makes 4 servings
2/3 cup millet
1 cup milk of choice
1/2 cup water
3 pitted dates, chopped (or more, for a sweeter result)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Rinse millet and place it in a large metal bowl that will fit inside your pressure cooker.
Add milk, water, vanilla, and dates, stirring everything together.
Add 1 cup of water to the pressure cooker and place the rack in the bottom (my P.C. slightly elevated metal grate for elevating things off the bottom of the pot).
Cover the bowl securely with foil and place it on the rack in the pressure cooker.
Secure the lid on the cooker, put the pressure regulator on top, and place over a high heat burner.
When the pressure regulator begins to rock slightly, start a timer for 11 minutes. Adjust heat down or up to keep regulator rocking gently.
After 11 minutes, turn off the heat and remove the pressure cooker from the burner. Let it cool on itâ€™s own (on mine, the release valve for the lid pops up when the cooker has cooled sufficiently).
Remove the pressure regulator, carefully open the lid and use tongs or hot pad holders to take out the inner bowl.
Stir in the cinnamon and mush up the pudding to help break up the millet and dates, distributing the fruit sweetness throughout and making the dish more pudding-like.
Spoon into individual bowls and top with something tasty (whipped cream, a sprinkle of cinnamon and/or nutmeg, chopped nuts, coconut butter, agave nectar, honey, maple syrup…the list of possible toppings goes on and on). Refrigerate individual servings to save them for later. I think I like mine cold!