MY TOP FIVE LIST: What I Learned & Saw in Seattle – Rice Pudding

More than three-hundred food bloggers converged in Seattle last week to greet, meet, eat, and, learn. The three-day International Food Bloggers Conference was exhilarating and exhausting……the norm, rising at 5am and hoping for sleep at 11pm. Tick. Tock. Leave a wake-up call.

That’s why this week’s French Friday’s with Dorie recipe choice is perfect. Rice Pudding and Caramel Apples, the ultimate comfort food, is nourishment for my weary soul. As a kid, our comfort pudding was tapioca. Mom’s tapioca pudding was like little clouds floating in a bowl. Yummmm. In France, it’s rice pudding. “Little children grow up on it, adults crave it for comfort, and bistros all across the country serve it year-round,”  Dorie explains.


Rice Pudding with Caramel Apples topped with Whipped Cream

Rice Pudding with Caramel Apples topped with Whipped Cream


As usual Dorie takes some twists and turns to put her own signature to this special dessert. While the recipe is quite explicit here are some tips. Use Arborio rice. It makes a tastier pudding. When the rice is added to the milk and sugar and brought to a boil, be vigilant. As Dorie cautioned, the milk has a tendency to bubble up exuberantly, spilling over the pan. Readers, this is true. Scalded milk and a radiant cooktop are not friends. My clean-up is still an on-going project. Last, cook the pudding only until most of the milk has been absorbed. If you boil away all the moisture, your pudding will be stiff.

I found this pudding, plain, to be creamy and yummy.  Although adding caramelized apples and whipped cream made for a more festive presentation, it took away its simplistic goodness. Try it and find your own flavorful comfort zone. You’ll find Dorie’s recipe here.


It's called Mise en Place and it's important. Gather all your supplies and ingredients before you begin a recipe.

It’s called Mise en Place and it’s important. Gather all your supplies and ingredients before you begin a recipe.


Now, back to the conference. I will be writing more as I digest the information overload but I want to share five lightbulb moments:

 1) A keynote speaker sets the tone for any convention and the ever-so-gracious Dorie Greenspan, our FFWD leader, was the perfect choice. She did a superb job of uniting Old Media to New Media in a manner which showed strength in the coupling. Unlike many cautionary business leaders who rely on polls, focus groups and the like, Dorie is a Just Say Yes business woman. I like her inspiring style.



Dorie with me prior to her keynote address.


2) oDESK  This  is the virtual worldwide site where you can hire a freelancer.  Need help? Web or Software Development, Networking and Information Systems, Writing & Translation, Administrative Support, Design & Multimedia, Customer Service, Sales & Marketing, or Business Services. founder Barnaby Dorfman pointed us to this valuable resource during a tech seminar. Who knew?  Unknown


3) In a 90-minute session, we were introduced to 19 different speciality, niche or hard-to-find food brands.  My new bff, best food friend, Manuka Doctor from New Zealand, produces an unbelievably delicious 10+bio active honey. Not especially sure what that means but, honey, it has to be good. I used my bag of SahalesMaple Pecans with Walnuts, Cherries & Cinnamon to flavor this acorn squash from my farmer’s market. You can get these products at Amazon.








 4) Love those friends from faraway places who spice up my life. Two years ago my FFWD colleague, Adriana, gave me a virtual tutorial on Sriracha, a popular Thai hot sauce, which seemed to be a staple in everyone’s pantry but mine. Adriana who lives in Puerto Rico and blogs at greatfood360, joined our French Fridays group in Seattle. Her gift to me?  Sriracha Sea Salt. Just livin‘ on the edge.


Adriana, who blogs from her home in  Puerto Rico, brought me  Sriracha Sea Salt. The answer is, "I have no idea.....yet."

Adriana, who blogs from her home in Puerto Rico, brought me Sriracha Sea Salt. The answer is, “I have no idea…..yet.”


5) When food bloggers get together, it’s all about, well,  food. Oh, yes, we enjoy fine wine and our cocktails but food is our focus. Toques off to Pastry Smart, an impressive company promoting humane, organic and sustainable food production practices, which put it best. “Seventy-nine million members of the Millenial Generation with a strong value system are coming of age in the United States. They are changing business as usual within the food industry.” 

Our food blogs, this new media, primarily written by our younger generations,  are all about being responsible, shaking up the status quo and writing about food with a keener voice. To visit sites of my FFWD colleagues who each have their own unique voice, go here. French Friday’s with Dorie is a group working its way through Dorie Greenspan’s amazing “Around My French Table” cookbook.


From virtural friendships to the real deal - gathering with  my French Friday colleagues prior to the opening session.

From virtual friendships to the real deal – gathering with my French Friday colleagues prior to the opening session.




  1. says

    Beautifully written and well done! I think I picked up quite a bit at the IFBC, but it could’ve gone on for a week, and I still would be digesting (no pun intended) everything.

  2. says

    Look at the GRIN on your face in the picture with Dorie!!! Love it.

    I’m anxious to try this rice pudding recipe, once I feel a little better. I’ve been sick for a few days. I made David Lebovitz’s rice pudding with arborio rice once, and it sat in my belly like a lead bomb. I’m wondering if I cooked off too much of the liquid, as you suggest. I’ll be more careful this time!

  3. says

    Ms. Puerto Rico recommends you start your sriracha sea salt journey with a few good old French fries. 🙂 Thanks for the great recap of your favorite things of IFBC. I have at least eight hours of in transit time to review my notes, recordings and the like to come up with my list.

    I have not yet looked at the recipe for the rice pudding, but Arborio rice makes total sense. This is like a sweet risotto!

  4. says

    Feels like conference was just this past weekend, oh it was! Fun times for all of us attendees -enjoyed meeting you Mary ;). Your rice pudding looks scrumptious!

  5. says

    Your rice pudding looks great, and I’m with you on the comfort food aspect of it. It was wonderful meeting you and everyone in Seattle.

    And enjoy that Sirarcha salt! Mmm!! 🙂

  6. says

    I am so glad I finally met my lost sister! And I loved your recap of the conference. And your memories of tapioca…we never ate rice pudding, just tapioca for us as well. I’m back to Denver next week to give Maddy a break. I’ll wave west at you 🙂

  7. says

    I just love your picture with Dorie… so wonderful that you meet her and other Dorista’s. Yes, I am jealous but also very happy for you guys. I can’t wait to meet you Mary. When are you coming to the East Coast? I promise you a good time in NYC.

  8. says

    Im loving everyone’s lists of things they learned at the conference! 🙂 It was a good time, I hope we all have more time to get to visit more with one another soon! Have a lovely weekend Mary!

  9. says

    Thanks for sharing all your wonderful pictures of the conference on FB. I enjoyed looking at them. This recipe was delicious. I loved the apples. Hope you have a great weekend and get rested up from the conference.

  10. says

    I don’t even know how to start writing anything about the conference so I’m so glad to have your posts to begin my thoughts. Unfortunately all I can think of right now is how good Sriracha Sea Salt would be on plain ole scrambled eggs. Oh Adriana….! I came back to my office with such a pile up of work I don’t know when I can get back to my FFWD family duties. Hopefully soon! What a great picture of you and Dorie! YOu need to get that printed and framed for your kitchen. Seriously.

    • Mary says

      Trevor, This morning (Saturday) I just finished my scrambled eggs topped with Sriracha Sea Salt per your suggestion. Delicious. Which means……. the bottle of ketchup (an Iowa thing) never made it to the kitchen table. I am really living on the edge. Thanks for the suggestion.

  11. says

    Mary, that’s a great recap of the wonders of IFBC! I need to get on my post while things are still fresh in my mind. I’ve never been a rice or tapioca fan but Dorie’s recipe has convinced me I CAN like rice pudding and we’re sure the caramel apples would be good on ice cream! Or cake! Or with a spoon! Wonderful to meet you!

  12. says

    I’m loving all the recaps. So sad that I couldn’t make it out to meet everyone, but an East Coast meet up might be easier for me to swing (a 7 hour flight instead of 13!).

  13. nana says

    I am with Trevor on this one, I have no idea where to begin. You have some gorgeous photos
    that really capture it all. I was so happy to finally meet you, I feel as though we have known each other a long time. I love the way you presented the rice pudding, beautiful.

  14. says

    Thanks for your top 5 list. I’m not even sure how to narrow it down. The only thing I’m sure about is that meeting you and the other Doristas would be at the top of the list. It was such a special weekend.

    I love rice pudding, though my mother never made it. I do though. I particularly liked the apples, though I think you’re right that they don’t really go on the pudding. I’m going to make another batch and try them in a tart.

  15. says

    From the accounts I have read everybody had a good time in Seattle.

    Mom made Tapioca a lot but never rice pudding. It may become a staple here. Love all your presentations.

  16. says

    Rice pudding is one of my favorite comfort foods. It is never safe around me (unless it has raisins in it – then I can leave it alone)
    It was such a treat to meet you – and if I am repeating myself, I can’t help it… Just uploaded all my pictures this afternoon. Oh man, so many posts to write and so little time to do it…

  17. says

    Mary, wonderful post all around – so glad you all had such a great time at the conference – must have been quite an experience. The pictures are fabulous – happy faces!
    Your rice pudding does indeed look very elegant the way you presented it in these wonderful glass serving dishes topped with delicious caramel apples and whipped cream!
    I also wanted to thank you for all your thoughful and kind comment s – I truly appreciate each and every one of them – how nice that you ordered the Veg book. If you have a bit of free time in the coming weeks, maybe we could co-post a recipe or two?!
    In the meantime a big fat thank you for your mail – it did leave me a bit speechless – I am honored and quite moved that the little angel is “keeping you company”!!!
    Hugs and kisses from afar – have a wonderful week! I shall be a tad busy with my guests from Canada and France that will be arriving tomorrow and staying with uy´s for a good two weeks!

  18. says

    Love love loved this. And first off- that top shot and it’s lighting is absolutely amazing. Someone was definitely paying attention during Andrew Scrivani’t presentation ! I came home and tried to set up a new photo spot – had an epic fail and ran back to my tried and true table top before Thursday night turned into Friday. The cat, needless to say, was delighted. We really just had such an amazing time that like the other Doristas, are having a bit of a challenge putting it all into words. But I will always remember seeing your face outside the W’s door and realizing- without ever have met you before- that it was “Mary” and I knew you. Pretty cool. And it just went uphill from there. Awesome job with the pudding as well as the recap on the products too. I also adore that honey and already consumed and raved ferociously about that Sahale snack mix. Crazy good and I plan to entertain with it – so fab that you gave me a great recipe to do this with. And that photo of you and Dorie- priceless. You are both gorgeous and fabulous !!!

  19. says

    I’m so glad you all had such a great time at the conference. That’s a great picture of you and Dorie! Now that I think about it I think you’re right about the dessert. I really enjoyed it, but I’d be even happier to eat each component by itself.

  20. says

    Mary – John loves the assortment of stemware you used! He has a lot of Dorothy Thorpe glass.

    This is a wonderful post – it is so hard to try to recapture our meeting. Everyone’s expectations were so well exceeded! Yay for us!

    And, your Acorn Squash – fabulous!

  21. says

    I finally made the rice pudding recently and have been reading everyone’s posts on it from way back last year. It’s an added bonus to see everyone’s comments about the Dorista meetup at IFBC. Great post.

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