This recipe is the culmination of a collage of memories. Years ago when dr bob was a relatively young thirty-something wide-eyed American visiting Milan one oppressively hot August in the company of another eclectic food fan and friend, they stumbled onto this cute little bookstore restaurant "La Libreria non Liberia" (loosely translated: "The Bookshop, Not!"). There was a vegetarian mini-menu, but the only thing that stuck in long term memory was a wonderful apple rice pudding of some sort. Bob later wrote for the recipe but never got a response. The shop disappeared by the time of the next return visit.
Then there was dr bob's addiction to Whitney's apple raisin yogurt that spoke to a similar culinary desire, minus the rice. The free market cured him of that by eliminating first the flavor choice and then the product and finally the company itself, which did not survive the merger mania of the late 20th century. Curiously a flavor combination that bob would not have ever tried by choice because of the raisin combination but when offered it by his childhood next door neighbor turned flavor chemist friend dennis (no menace), he was pleasantly surprised. Just goes to show you how important outside influences can be.
Later in life, bob was comparing all the plain rice pudding recipes he could find in the cooking team library. The cookbooks were stacked together, one inside the other, opened at the rice pudding page waiting for the right moment to act. Which never came. The books were reshelved. A contributing factor may have been indecision on the basic rice pudding question: to bake or just stovetop it all the way? The baking part often required putting the pudding bowl into a pan of boiling water, which sounds like unnecessary effort. Yet was this the secret behind really creamy rice pudding? Or a false hope? Meanwhile a local entrepreneur began marketing this really yummy creamy rice pudding in all the area supermarkets. Just pay the money and enjoy. Of course that seems like cheating in a way. And how do we share our love of rice pudding with distant friends in distant lands?
A credit card free offer of a 6 month sub to another cooking mag we had been occasionally grabbing, Eating Well, was hard to refuse. And difficult to terminate. Clever marketing. So three cooking mag subs contributed to the information overload of the end of the millennium at dr bob central. Until the newcomer crashed and burned in 1999. Substituted by Food and Wine for a while until we worked up the courage to cancel. Anyway, the apple cinnamon rice pudding recipe arrived just in time for a cookout dessert contribution. And forced the issue of bake or no bake. Bake. Not as much of a hassle as anticipated. But not as creamy either. Maybe we over baked it?