Sunday, 13 May 2012

Baked Rice Pudding with Strawberry Jam

They say you don't know what you've got til it's gone. For many people this particular adage refers to a first love or a friendship. Joni Mitchell famously sung these words to lament when 'they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.' Now I don't care about any of that stuff - I miss my rice pudding. When I was growing up - a little blonde-haired, buck-toothed kid - my mom used to make the most delicious rice pudding on the regular. It's one of my fondest memories of growing up, right alongside swimming lessons, jam sandwiches and the Paul Daniels Magic Show, and I probably didn't appreciate it as much as I should have at the time. So when Charlie told me she didn't like rice pudding but would be willing to give it another try, I knew what I had to do.
After I'd gathered all of the ingredients together I began to understand why mom probably made a conscious effort to ween her children off of rice pudding at an early age. Cream, full fat milk, butter and a load of sugar..she would had a few hyper little chubbies running around. So perhaps it's just going to be a treat from now on. You'll need about 100g of pudding rice, 50g of sugar, 2 cups of single cream, the same of full fat milk, 25g of butter, nutmeg and a vanilla pod.
If I have any ardent followers, I apologise for the lack of posts in the past few weeks. I've just moved flats and have been living in an Internet-less world, sitting around on camping chairs and sleeping on a single air mattress. I know, I know, world's smallest violin right? Anyway here's a closeup of some pudding rice, find it in the baking section of any decent supermarket. Rinse it under cold water then place in a large flat oven dish that's been greased with butter (extra chubbies). Preheat the oven to 160C.
Pour the cream, milk and sugar into a saucepan. Slice the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape out the seeds and add these to the pan, along with a good grating of nutmeg - essential to any decent rice pudding. Heat gently, stirring constantly, until it just starts to boil. Remove from the heat, let cool, pour into a tall glass, chug - breakfast of champions. Or if you fancy, pour over the rice, dot with squares of butter and stick in the oven. Check regularly, and stir after 20 minutes or so.
One of the best things about rice pudding is that it doesn't come with a coulis. It doesn't come with a veloute or a foam. It comes with JAM. Good old, chunky British Strawberry Jam.
Wash and chop about a dozen strawberries then blend with couple of tablespoons of caster sugar, the juice of half a lemon and a drop of water until you've got a nice jammy consistency. I add a couple of drops of balsamic vinegar here as well...it cuts through the sweetness and works a treat.
Roughly chop a few more strawberries and stir through to give it a bit more bite. Any leftovers will be great on toast the next morning, if slightly less healthy than your regular bowl of Weetabix.
The rice pudding should take about an hour and a half, but keep checking after an hour or so - it should have a nice gooey, creamy texture and a golden brown crust. With a generous spoonful of jam on top, it really can't get any better than this. For the record, Charlie liked it.

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