What is it about mushy, bland but slightly sweet foods that make them so wonderfully comforting when you’re feeling under the weather emotionally?
Is it because they summons up memories of warm, lavender scented Nannas, wiping their hands on their aprons as you run to them to a cuddle?
Or could it be that we can get so caught up in eating ‘clean’ and forgoing entire food groups, or, my personal favourite, all ‘white foods’. Milk, bread, rice, pasta and many of our traditional foods that we base our meals on have been given such a bad rap that to eat them can make us feel guilty! So, sitting down to a steaming bowl of a pudding like this, softly scented with cinnamon, feels like an indulgence to the spirit; and that is never a bad thing.
My son and I had a lovely morning, after a few days of not so lovely mornings, mixing and pouring the ingredients together in the kitchen. Once the dish was cooked, it turns out he didn’t actually like it (nor does my husband!), but it was the baking of the meal that gave us both joy, not the eating……well, OK, I took great joy in eating bowl after heaping bowl of the stuff for the next 3 days!
If you never want to look at another poached egg or kale leaf again, or even if you just want to release any restrictions you’ve put on yourself for just one day, then give this a try. This will make either one very large and deep baking dish of pudding, or, as I think is best, share it around and bake it in 4 smaller dishes, or the disposable baking dishes available in supermarkets.
(serves 3 to 4 families)
1 cup white rice (I used arborio as it was all I had on hand)
4 cups water, pre-boiled in the kettle
5 cups milk
2 T (or more to taste, this isn’t an overly sweet pudding)
2 T vanilla extract
Cinnamon or nutmeg to sprinkle
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees.
Pour the boiling water, salt and rice into a saucepan and cook slowly and gently over low heat until the water is absorbed and the rice tender.
Remove from heat and stir in the milk and sugar.
Beat the eggs well and stir them into the rice mix with the vanilla.
Pour the mix into 2 large or 4 small pie dishes and sprinkle with a few knobs of butter and either cinnamon or nutmeg.
Place the dishes into a larger, deep baking tray and fill with cold water to the edge of the pudding dishes.
Carefully put in the oven, (or, as I do, place the bigger baking dish on the oven shelf, put the custard dishes in, then pour the cold water), and bake for around an hour or until the pudding is set.
I put mine under the griller to get a little more colour than my dodgy oven provided.
This is definitely best served hot out of the oven, but it can be eaten cold (you might need to add some more milk), or re-heated in a low oven. It is certainly not overly sweet, and I like my rice pudding sweet, so feel free to splash some more sugar over the top before you serve, or, as I plan to do for dessert (oh, who am I kidding? I’ll be having this for dinner!), smother it with some cream and raspberries or peaches with an extra splash of milk. Hook in!
What is your ultimate comfort food?