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  • Sister Clare Josef-Maier

Hearth & Table - February 2, 2023

Rice is a valued staple around the world - we use it a lot at Hearth & Table particularly because it's a familiar, inexpensive, gluten-free base that keeps our meals accessible for many. But it's versatility isn't always given a chance to shine. It's not just a champion for the savory, but can be sweet as well!

Chef Ryan is launching a "rice pudding" dessert series to take us around the world. This week's Cuban-inspired meal brings us Arroz con Leche.

Black bean & vegetable stew

Serves 6


3 tablespoons oil

2 onions, diced ½ head garlic, cloves peeled and sliced

1 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained & rinsed

1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1-2 lbs. seasonal vegetables (any), cut about bite-sized

1 cup vegetable stock or water (plus more if needed to thin stew)

1 lime, juice & zest

Salt & pepper to taste


1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Then add the onions.

2. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the onions are lightly browned and translucent. Then add the garlic.

3. Cook for 3 minutes more and reduce heat to medium. Add the cumin and oregano, and cook 3 minutes more.

4. Add all remaining ingredients except lemon juice & zest, and cook until the vegetables are just done. Season to taste with the lemon juice & zest, salt and pepper.

Pumpkin polenta

Serves 6


6 C water

1 ½ C coarse-ground cornmeal (a.k.a. polenta)

1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree

1 lemon, zest & juice

Salt & pepper to taste


1. In a large pot, bring the water to a boil. Using a whisk, slowly stir in the polenta. Immediately reduce the heat to medium-low.

2. Using a wooden spoon, stir the polenta frequently (don’t let it stick to the bottom of the pot!) for about 15-20 minutes, or until the polenta is fairly tender. Mix in the pumpkin puree, lemon zest & lemon juice, and season to taste (salt & pepper).

Arroz con leche (Cuba)

Serves 10


2 ¼ cups water

1 ½ cups short grain rice

1 (1/4 inch x 3 inch) strip lime peel

½ cup water

1 cinnamon stick

2 tablespoons anise seed, crushed

1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk

1 (14 ounce) can condensed milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon salt


1. Combine 2 1/4 cups of water, rice, and lime peel in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes until the rice is tender.

2. While the rice is cooking, combine 1/2 cup of water, the cinnamon stick, and anise in another saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring mixture to a low boil for 3 minutes, then remove the saucepan from the stove. Strain flavored water into a bowl and set aside, discarding cinnamon stick and anise pieces.

3. After rice has simmered for 20 minutes, carefully remove the lime peel with a slotted spoon, and over low heat, gradually stir evaporated milk and condensed milk into the rice. Mix in the cinnamon and anise-flavored water, vanilla, and salt. Add raisins, if desired. Continue to stir until the mixture thickens, about 7 to 10 minutes.

4. If the pudding is too watery after 10 minutes, turn up heat to medium-low and stir continuously. When pudding reaches desired consistency, remove from heat and pour into individual dishes, or a large bowl. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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