Rice Spice and all things nice
At the slightest whisper of a rice pudding recipe, my mind is immediately whisked back to a time when I was much shorter than I am today. I’m standing looking up, with a tray clasped in my hands. From the other side of the counter in our school canteen a red cheeked dinner lady is smiling back at me. She kindly asks me “Rice pudding my dear?” My response was always simple and to the point – “yes, please!!” –remembering to follow up with the obligatory thank you (they were, after all, the Guardians of lunch and should therefore never be trifled with…..pardon the pun!).
I’ve never really liked the whole ‘skin thing’ that forms on top of the oven baked version, so I’ve always reverted to cooking mine on the stovetop. If you happen to be into that sort of thing, then simply cook the pudding for around 10 minutes on the stove before transferring to a ceramic dish, adding the honey, then placing in the oven for a couple of hours or so at 140˚C.
I’ve suggesting using pears as a topping but really anything goes as this rice pudding recipe is pretty flexible. Try replacing the pears with apples or peaches (if you can still get them) and poach together with the anise. Cinnamon stewed plums are also delicious or, if you’d rather just keep things old school, a generous blob of strawberry jam will suffice!
100g short grain rice (risotto rice will also work)
1000ml full fat milk
1 vanilla pod
1 cinnamon stick
Slice of orange zest
Juice of half an orange
50ml runny honey
100g white sugar
2 star anise
Rice pudding recipe
Start the rice pudding recipe by making the rice pudding! Add the rice, milk, spices and orange skin to a large saucepan and bring everything to the boil. Simmer gentle for around 25-30 minutes, stirring frequently, until the rice becomes tender. Remove from the heat and add the honey and squeezed orange juice, adjusting to taste, and allow to cool completely before covering and chilling in the fridge.
To make the poached pears, make a sugar syrup by adding the sugar, water and star anise to a large saucepan and place over a medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved and simmering. Peel the pears and slice in half to remove the core, then carefully add to the simmering syrup and turn the heat down to low. Cover with a lid, and cook for around 15-20 minutes or until the pears have become tender but not soft. Remove from the heat and allow the pears to cool in the syrup before covering and placing in the fridge to cool.
Serve the rice pudding straight from the fridge, with a pear half (or two) and a generous spoonful of the cooking syrup drizzled over the top.