What's for breakfast with Vanessa Dossi
It’s a weekend morning, you’ve got time to spare and you might have overdone it on the scrambled eggs and toast. For something a little different, food blogger, recipe developer and cook Vanessa Dossi serves up one of her favourite breakfast treats from her childhood days.
She’s eager to simplify cooking for the time- and skill-strapped, using ingredients we can all pronounce and easy-to-follow recipes. Once a month, you’ll catch Vanessa teaching her guests how to whip up a feast from scratch at her themed Cooking with V classes in Joburg. You’ll leave full, armed with new talents and feeling as though you may have missed your calling as a kitchen pro.
Which comfort meal have you prepared for us and what’s the cooking time?
A breakfast rice pudding; 40 minutes.
What are your fondest memories of it?
I grew up on this dish. Rice porridge, as it was called when we were young, was served on Saturday mornings as a treat. I remember waking up to the smell of rice simmering in milk and I’d get excited. It’s sweet, creamy and comforting.
Who taught you how to make it and how long did it take you to master it?
No one makes rice pudding like my mother, but I’ve come really close. Finding the right rice has been a task. At home, we use Malawian rice, which breaks down really well and releases a lot of starch. The closest substitute I’ve found is Arborio rice. Sushi rice works, too. I use less sugar and add cinnamon and fruit, which isn’t how we had it growing up. You can also add sprinkles of seeds and nuts for some crunch.
Any cheat tips for lazy cooks?
If you have any leftover white rice, using it cuts down your cooking time to nearly a third. Leave out the water, add milk and simmer.
When did you discover that you had serious cooking talent and what has been your culinary journey since?
I’ve loved cooking for the longest time, but only decided to take a chance on my talent in 2016. It’s been difficult. The food industry isn’t an easy one to break into, especially if you don’t have capital, but I’m slowly getting recognised for things like food styling and recipe development. I still deal with imposter syndrome frequently, but I’m getting to a place where I feel like I do deserve to be here.
If you had to describe yourself as a cake flavour, what would it be and why?
Carrot cake with lemon cream cheese frosting. It’s inviting, slightly spicy and very comforting.
breakfast rice pudding
4 cups water
1 cup rice (starchy, medium-grain like sticky rice or Arborio rice)
2 cups full-cream milk
Ground cinnamon, fruit and honey, to serve
Place the water in a large pot, add the rice and bring to the boil.
Allow the rice to simmer at medium heat until cooked and falling-apart soft. The water should be almost completely reduced at this point. If the rice isn’t soft enough, add more water and allow to simmer further.
Add milk and simmer further until all liquids have reduced entirely and the pudding has a thick consistency.
Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon, a drizzle of honey and your fruit of choice.