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Saturday, 26 December 2015

Rice Pudding + Recipe

Rice pudding was one of desserts that I imagine brought tears to my mother's eyes when I first tried it. She knew that with my sweet tooth, and preference to soft textures that I would be undone.

I don't remember the specific time I first had it, probably school dinners, and I must have avoided that horrible gluey yet burnt bottom layer. I vaguely remember having a brief spat of making it for myself from scratch, but by then I must have developed the social consciousness that eating too many sweet things was not a good thing (seriously?!), so I imagine I somewhat kerbed that habit.

Sugar Photobomb (no sugar required)
There was a comeback when I went to university, and discovered that noone was judging my eating habits - out loud, at least - so I indulged in a can of Ambrosia Rice Pudding every three months or so... ok, ok, so it was probably more, but time is a healer, and I genuinely don't remember.

A-ny-way, I should have probably prefaced this post with the fact that I am a Bah Humbug at Christmas. For some reason, the trauma of my mood swinging adolescence yet immense pressure to 'be happy' has stamped a muddy Hunter boot in my mind's eye. So I don't celebrate.

This was my first year not spending Christmas in England, and seeing as I had made precisely zero plans here in Stockholm, I was quite content. Until the phone calls started. How did this happen?! I had wriggled out of Family Time and therefore I should be exempt from those calls, right?! No. Whilst it was every pleasure to catch up with friends I hadn't spoken to in a while, coupled with the messy nest I had created in my apartment - everywhere but the kitchen! - plus having actually forgotten to eat anything whatsoever, I could see the pathetic picture I was presenting to my friends. Pity was written painfully clearly across their faces. I would have that expression too, but I've been feeling a bit delirious what with erratic sleeping times and a persistent migraine that were both plotting away at destroying any activity whatsoever... and I looked that way.

I love my semi-old-fashioned can opener.
It deserves a picture
Hmmm, I'm sure I will look back at this again during the summer and think what a loser I am being... then I'll read it again at Christmas and nod knowingly... "hello again... back here, are we?!'.

Anyway, enough! Food! This was a nutshell of a conversation I had today with a Danish friend who I mentioned my rice pudding hankerings to, and apparently, Rice Pudding, is a typical Christmas dessert in the Nordics. A Finnish friend had already 'pre-confirmed' this. Whilst my research consisted of just two individuals, I have decided I have licence to magnanimously paint Finland, Denmark, and Sweden with the same brush. It. Just. Works. It may apply in England too, but mince pies and Christmas pudding is what pops into my mind!

Boiling with milk and cinnamon sticks
I was dropping off an order to a colleague client, and after another sleepless night - literally! - I thought I'd come home and crash on the sofa. Unfortunately I have been on my sofa for a few days now, and the novelty has worn off. I had a pre-incepted idea of making rice pudding that occurred to me during one of my phone calls, so decided to put it into action. The friend who I was speaking to at the time was somewhat appalled that I couldn't bear the thought of standing up for 40 minutes to make it. "And you say, she likes baking??!?". Yes, I DO, but I feel that when I am the only benefactor of my cooking, it should not take long at all. Preferably less than 10 minutes, which includes waiting time; if a takeout meal would add more than that to my Work-to-Home time, I will not be getting takeout. My lack of patience for my own food is apparent, methinks.

That peach-y hue is from the Amarula
So where were we... YES! I'm bored. So I decided to make rice pudding. Good comforting food that I mistakenly believed to be healthy as it was rice. Plus I couldn't actually see the sugar as it was cleverly disguised as sweetened condensed milk, so let's all pretend we didn't add sugar. To be honest, this version is far less sugary and sweet than any shop-bought version I've tried, but the taste can be altered using salt, jam, honey, fruit sauces, caramel, you name it! The recipe gives you an awesome base, and it can be chilled for a cold dessert later, even frozen, and then reheated gently over the stove, or for the more microwave-savvy amongst us, in the zapper.

I had the end of a bottle of Amarula hanging around that was bothering me, so I slung it in... didn't hurt!

All done with my extra milk

Here we go... but not before a disclaimer! I am NOT claiming this is an original recipe. I just think this is how you make it.

Now all I need to do is find a recipe to use up the rest of the condensed milk...

Rice Pudding

Time: 40-50 minutes
Yield: serves 3-8 (depending on how refined your portions are)
Storage: store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days

Ingredients


2 cups water
1 cup rice (preferably pudding rice)
good pinch sea salt
2 cups milk
1/4 cup condensed milk
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp vanilla extract/paste or 1/2 tsp vanilla powder (not vanilla sugar)
OPTIONAL
2 tbsp Malibu/Amarula/Baileys, or similar

Method

[NOTE: my stove range is from 1-12 heat ascending, and I will refer to the levels I used in square brackets]
  1. Boil the water in a medium saucepan on the stove [12]
  2. Add the rice and salt and bring to the boil. Once the water is boiling again, lower the heat to low [4]
  3. Cover the saucepan leaving a small gap between the lid and the saucepan (you can use a wooden spoon handle to prop it open). Cook the rice for around 20 minutes until the water has been absorbed.
  4. Add the milk and cinnamon to the rice, and bring the mixture to the boil over a medium-high heat [7]. Reduce the temperature to low [4], stirring occasionally and removing the milk skin as and when it forms.
  5. When the mixture has thickened and become creamy, stir in the condensed milk and vanilla extract.
  6. Cook at this temperature for 5-10 minutes (I went for 7 minutes, but it was ready after 5)
  7. OPTIONAL: add the alcohol and stir it in just before serving.
  8. Serve warm or chilled with your favourite seasoning or topping(s).
TIP: if the pudding will be eaten on the same day, however not immediately after cooking, place a damp paper kitchen towel on the surface of the pudding in the pan (OFF the stove) as it's cooling to prevent a milk skin forming.

I happen to like my rice pudding fairly thin, so I added more milk. 
Feel free to play around with it, use milk substitutes and sugars to make it vegan. There're no rules!