Une petite douceur pour se remettre du trafic – Riz au lait à la compote de fraises

My Friday afternoon was spent driving back and forth from San Francisco to the East Bay. I completely forgot that on Friday afternoons when it rains the freeways are completely insane and the traffic is worse than Paris périphérique aux heures de pointe (during rush hours). I had to drop off some food for some clients on the other side of the bridge and I thought I was never going to make it. A trip that usually takes 30 minutes, took me 2 hours. Besides I am a terrible driver, never had an accident, just a few bumper scratches but I always feel something might happen because I have no concept of space. I have no idea if the car is two meters or three meters behind me.

So when I got home, I made myself a small sweet treat, to calm my adrenaline rush from all the freeway movement.

I don’t know if “riz au lait” is something very popular in the US, I have never seen it served anywhere, maybe it’s considered an “unsophisticated” or rudimentary dessert, I don’t know. In France, riz au lait is something very common, that every household knows how to make. Now I like riz-au-lait with some fruit compote or caramel, or something underneath the rice.

The tricky part is to keep the rice in a creamy vanilla sauce. Rice tends to absorb the liquid, then you might end up with some dry rice which is not very good. You need a lot of milk (and preferably whole milk) and let to rice simmer at very slow heat for about one hour. I used reduced fat milk and tasted great too. There are as many versions of riz au lait as there are cooks in France, so this one is just my version. You can flavor it with cinnamon if you like it. I am a vanilla fan so I don’t want to spoil the natural vanilla flavor with cinnamon.

Ingredients for 4-6

  • 5.30 oz (or 150 g) round rice, I used arborio
  • 4.2 cups (or 1 liter) whole milk or reduced fat milk
  • 4 tbs heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean split
  • raw sugar to your tastes
  • 2 tbs chopped walnuts
  • 1 lb strawberries
  • 1 or 2 tbs light brown sugar


Rinse the rice under running water. Bring a water to a boil and cook rice for about 6-7 minutes. Drain. Bring milk and cream to a boil with vanilla bean split. Add rice and let it simmer at very low temperature for about one hour making sure it does not stick. After 30 minutes, add sugar and stir.  Add chopped walnuts.

Wash and cut strawberries, cook at medium temperature with light brown sugar until strawberries turn into a sauce.

You can eat the rice lukewarm or cold.

Place some strawberries at the bottom of a cup then add rice on top. Decorate with fresh strawberries and walnut bits.