This weekend was one of those weekends you sometimes have as a single person. No agenda whatsoever and little but work (in my case, transcribing many interviews) to look forward too. I recently re-watched Easy A and it was like the weekend Olive spent avoiding Rhiannon’s camping trip – the kind where you make up dates with boys because you’d rather not confess (or it is unacceptable to confess) to having spent the weekend painting your dog’s toenails and dancing around like a crazy person. Or, as in my case, baking variations of blood orange cupcakes. I squeezed more blood oranges than I care to admit too – both for the cupcakes and also for a blood orange curd which, after three attempts, I gave up on on Sunday morning – sometimes you do just have to admit defeat. I rounded the incredibly uneventful weekend off by watching House of Cards on Netflix, which, let’s face is brilliant and disturbing, and probably totally explains the need to eat rice pudding at 9.30pm on a Sunday. I know, I know, likening oneself to an American teen movie is probably not the best thing to be confessing on the cusp of turning thirty (dear god) but teen movies just make like, so much sense. Who doesn’t relate to The Breakfast Club/10 Things I Hate About You/Say Anything/Bring It On/Pitch Perfect and think they explain most of life?
So the rice pudding craving was no random thing. I blame this post and this post. I read both last week and I think rice pudding has been playing on my subconscious ever since. Smitten Kitchen and The Wednesday Chef are two of my favourite food blogs and when they say something like ‘you need to put a bay leaf in your rice pudding’, it does cause me to wonder about it. But an 8pm craving does mean that you don’t want to boil rice and then drain it and then cook it for several hours. You want rice pudding NOW. Well, I did anyway. So I made my own version of rice pudding, with the additional, obligatory bay leaf; that only takes 30 minutes and can be left on the stove whilst you watch House of Cards, or whatever show you’re currently addicted too (I have Girls arriving later this week). You do just need to get up and check it every once in a while otherwise you’ll end up with rice burning on the bottom of the pot – which is exactly what happened to me but I managed to salvage it and it was still beautiful.
The bay leaf adds an earthy note to the pudding, rounding out the vanilla and making the dish more complex and flavoursome. I made it with whole milk and double cream – I can only guess at the fat content and calories, no doubt huge – but I think it is all the better for it. When I usually have rice pudding cravings I make it with skim or semi-skimmed milk because that is usually what I have at hand, and it’s good but this was a kind of out-of-the-universe indulgence. The kind that should, really, be saved for an occasion of sorts. This makes enough for two large-ish portions. I saved half and had it for breakfast this morning, reheating it with extra milk on the stove as it sets thick and stodgy.
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup golden caster sugar*
1/2 cup pudding rice
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp vanilla extract**
Heat the milk, bay leaf, sugar and vanilla to scalding point. Add in the rice. Bring back to the boil and then turn down the heat to very low so the milk bubbles gently. (The term ‘puttering’ comes to mind.)
Stir regularly so that the rice doesn’t catch on the bottom. After about 25 minutes it should be thick and the rice should be creamy but still have a slight bite to it. Add in some extra whole milk and then a good dollop of double cream. Stir for about another five minutes, until the cream is incorporated and the pudding is thick but still ‘sighs’ when you put it into a bowl. (By ‘sighs’ I mean it still spreads slightly and isn’t one sticky ball.)
Allow to cool for five minutes before dishing up.
*If you don’t want this epically sweet, decrease the sugar content slightly, by a tablespoon or so
** Or half a vanilla pod