It doesn't take much to mak the Toddster incredibly happy. He's a simple man with simple tastes. Rice pudding does it for him every time. I am one of those cooks who can't leave well enough alone however . . . and today I just about outdid myself with this lovely version of rice pudding I created just for him. I had been sent a lovely jar of Manuka Honey a while back and I decided that it would be perfect for both sweetening and flavouring this delicious dessert.
This may be a simple dessert, but there's nothing simple about the flavours. There is a definite Asian influence here with the use of basamati rice, coconut milk, cardamom pods, cinnamon and vanilla . . . and a huge dollop of that delicious manuka honey.
The Toddster was in seventh heaven as he dug his spoon into this wonderfully flavourful dessert. In short . . . he absolutely loved it. I think it's his new favourite! This may be a simple dessert . . . but there's nothing simple about those flavours! Positively blissful.
*Rice Pudding with Coconut Milk,
Cardamom, Vanilla and Manuka Honey*Serves 4
one heaped dessertspoon of manuka honey (about 1/4 cup)
a large handful of sultana raisins (optional)
Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the rice, cinnamon and cardamom. Heat, stirring, until quite fragrant. Whisk in the milk, coconut milk, water and vanilla bean plus scrapings. Bring up to a gentle simmer and then reduce to low heat and cook for about 20 to 30 minutes, until the rice is very tender and the liquid has thickened somewhat.Stir in the honey and raisins. Cook for a further 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how thick you like it. Take off the heat and let stand for 10 minutes prior to serving. You may thin with a bit of milk if you think it's too thick. Best served warm. This will keep in the fridge for several days. Gently reheat with a bit of milk in that case.
The Manuka Honey I used in this pudding came from Steens. Entirely natural, totally traceable, inspired by nature and totally raw.
With fake Manuka hitting the headlines once more, it can be difficult to hunt down a honey that you can trust. Steens can give you the reassurance that you don't really need to have a degree in bio-chemisty to know how to avoid the imitators. The only sure way to identify Manuka is through it's NPA (Non-Peroxide-Activity) level.
The NPA level of Manuka honey is what gives it all the health and well0being benefits, as it measures the strength of the active compound which are naturally occurring in Manuka Honey. The Native Maori population of New Zealans used the Manuka plant in a medicinal drink that was used to reduce fever-like symptoms, while also applying the plant to wounds as a natural antiseptic.
Five things you should know about Steens:
1. Steens is the world's largest high active producer of NPA Manuka honey.
2. With over 30 years experience, Steens takes its honey very seriously indeed; travelling by helicopter to harvest the very best Manuka that trucks can't get to.
3. Steens harvest from over 10,000 beehives scattered across some of the most beautiful, remote New Zealand wilderness.
4. Steens uses cold-processing methods which keep the honey in it's RAW state, leaving all of it's naturally occurring bio active properties undisturbed state.
5. Steens is the only brand to have implremented an innovative tracking technology that not only allows them to keep track of their hive activity 24/7, but lets you trace your pot back to the specific individual hive it was harvested from! Check it out on the Steens Honey Homepage.
Five Fab ways to make the most of your Manuka:
1. As well as being delicious by itself, Steens can add a sweet, deep taste to your favourite dish whether you're curing meats, baking treats, tossing salads or brewing teas. Still stuck for ideas? Check out some recipes created by Steens for inspiration.
2. Steens Manuka honey can help with digestive ailments, improving immunity and sore throat symptoms - amongst others.
3. Did you know that Manuka honey is hydrating by nature? When applied directly onto the face and left on for 10 to 15 minutes as a mask, it leaves the skin rejuvenated, hydrated, and lusciously smooth.
4. Steens Honey has some powerful health credentials. This is due to the unique Non Peroxide Activity (NPA) levels found only in Manuka honey. This gives the honey long lasting antibacterial properties and means it can be used in it's raw state, to apply over any minor cut, graze or burn to support faster healing.
5. Happy hour can be made that little bit happier with a little addition of Steens in your cocktail! The warm, complex flavours complement whisky particularly well, but are not out of place in a mai tai, magarita or even a glass of fizz! (Information from Steens.)
Steens top tips on how to avoid fake Manuka . . .
You can't believe everything you read these days, even labels. Be cautious of so-called Manuka products that market the following . . .
TOTAL ANTIBACTERIAL ACTIVITY (TAA), TOTAL ACTIVITY (TAA), TOTAL ACTIVITY (TA) or 'ACTIVE' = this is the measure of Total Activity which is the measure of the non-peroxide activity and peroxide activity combined. This means that the proportion ofh the activity that is NPA is stable but the proportion that is peroxide activity can dissipate relatively quickly. This means that the measure of strength will decrease over time.
PEROXIDE ACTIVITY (PA) = This is the measure of all peroxide activity in the honey. As above, the peroxide activity can be found in ALL types of honey and degrades with time.
POLLEN CONTENT = Scoentists can't distinguish confidently between pollen from Manuka and it's close relative 'Kanuka'. So a jar that claims to have a high Manuka pollen content, may actually have a high Kanuka pollen count. Manuka and Kanuka pollen look exactly the same under a microscope.
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Although I was sent a jar of Steens 15+ Manuka Honey, any and all opinions are my own.