Sunday, September 21, 2008

What is the matter with Mary-Jane? It's lovely rice pudding for dinner again!

British Food Fortnight has now started and I'm busy plotting my own entry for my event which celebrates the best of British produce and the best of our culinary heritage. I'm still undecided as to what I should make but I have a few ideas bubbling away... Should I make something with our fantastic meats or fish or plunk for one of my favourite British desserts? I'm really looking forward to receiving your thoroughly British entries too and hope you'll think of joining in. In fact, I'm so keen for you to join in that I'm even bribing you with the promise of a prize for one lucky participant...!

I'm exceptionally keen on British 'nursery' puddings. Such puds are usually made from simple, inexpensive ingredients and are usually immensely comforting. Rice pudding more than most. Of course although I always think of rice pudding as being typically British, it is in fact popular the world over in many different forms. Its origins (unsurprisingly) are to be found in Asia. The traditionally British version of this creamy pudding involves baking the rice over several hours with milk and sugar and plenty of nutmeg. Usually, a good dollop of strawberry jam is stirred in before serving and jolly good it tastes too.

At least it does to me. They are an alarmingly high number of people who don't seem to like rice pudding. They baulk at the texture and the brown skin that forms on top. Not so in my family. There were frequent fights over who got the best bits of skin and to me, rice pudding without skin is like apple crumble without custard. Just plain wrong!

Rice pudding is a positively thrifty dessert in times of credit crunch too. I'm always astonished just how little rice you need to make a sensible sized pudding. I made enough for three and used just this tiny amount of rice (...which makes you wonder why they sell it in such large bags, does it not??)..

The key to a really good rice pudding (I think) is to use full-fat milk. Semi-skimmed just does not cut the mustard here. You might even like to add cream too. I don't, but then I'm a bit of a wuss when it comes to cream.

The simplest of rice puddings involves just pudding rice, milk and nutmeg. On this occasion though, I infused the milk with a few different spices. A little vanilla and a touch of cinnamon. And plenty of nutmeg freshly grated on top. It smelt (and tasted) heavenly. Sometimes I add cardamon too which is great if you serve some fresh (or dried) mango alongside.

Simple rice pudding
Serves 2-3

50g pudding rice
25g sugar
550ml full-fat milk

1. Pre-heat oven to 160C. Butter a shallow ovenproof dish. Pour in the the rice, sugar and milk and stir to combine.

2. Grate nutmeg all over the top and bake in the oven for 2-3 hours, until the skin is golden and the pudding creamy. After an hour, you might want to give the pud a quick stir before putting back in the oven.

I served my rice pudding with some seasonal fruit. Two bramley apples stewed down with a punnet of the juiciest blackberries. Delicious!

This much-loved of puddings is also the subject of one of my favourite A.A.Milne poems.... Here is the final verse...

'What is the matter with Mary Jane?
She's perfectly well and she hasn't a pain.
And it's lovely rice pudding for dinner again
What is the matter with Mary Jane?'


Elra said...


My son and I are both really like rice pudding (shyly admit, its store bought)
It is too bad that my husband not really fond of rice pudding and I tend to avoid cooking anything that he won't eat. But then, most recipe I found in my book just way too plain. Maybe if I follow your step bu infusing the milk with cinnamon & vanilla and off course adding freshly grated nutmeg, I'll be able to convince him to at least try it.

Anonymous said...

My mouth is well and truly watering. I have pudding rice too, if only I'd thought of it earlier!

Katie said...

I'm with you all the way. I adore rice pudding! I haven't had it for ages but now i'm craving it.

Sam said...

I love rice pudding and I LOVE the skin!

Maria said...

OMG this looks so delicious! I love rice pudding, it reminds me of my childhood.

You have an award waiting for you at my blog.


aforkfulofspaghetti said...

I'm totally with you (again!) - can't beat a good rice pudding

Let's hope that the current credit crunch will bring more of these old favourites out into the spotlight again

Indigo said...

I adore rice pudding and we hardly ever have it cause my two sisters both fall into the category of people who baulk at it =[. I might make a point of living off it when I move out later this week!

Incidentally; I made my entry for your event a couple of days ago! Await my post/email soon!

Great Big Veg Challenge said...

I love Rice pudding - I even loved the stuff at school with the thick congealed skin on top.
However I am alone so this post has inspired me to try again and make it for my children and try and win them over...

Margaret said...

We love rice pudding in this house - I have childood memories of my Nan making this with evaporated milk, and we loved it.
My husband gets the skin because unfortunately, I am not a rice pudding skin lover.
When we are in a rush I cook this on the hob for 45 minutes - still wonderful, but alas no skin!

Holler said...

I love rice pudding. It is real comfort food! If I am really feeling sorry for myself, I add a spoonful of jam to it. Yum. I liked your idea of adding cinnamon and vanilla.

I posted my entry for your event. I made it as soon as I heard about the event and then had to wait for the start date. Great idea Antonia!

Sam said...

I've given you an award! come take a look.


Antonia said...

Elra - hope that you can convince him just how delicious it can be!

Ginger - a speedy version can be made in a saucepan but I've not tried it. It is annoying that it takes so long - you really do have to plan in advance!

Katie - I hadn't had it for an age either. It was such a treat.

Sam - hooray! Another skin lover!

Maria - thank you so much for the lovely award. I agree, rice pudding really reminds me of my childhood too.

Aforkful - with the credit crunch and winter approaching, it is surely time to enjoy classics such as this and bread and butter pudding. At least there is one upside!

Indigo - hooray! I can't wait to see your entry.

Charlotte - I loved it at school too. I think I was one of the only ones actually! I loved semolina too.

Margaret - I bet it would be divine with evoporated milk. Yum. And I've never tried it on the hob so I'm glad to hear from a trusted source that it works!

Holler - I love it with jam too. So comforting, as you say. Thank you for your entry too - they look seriously good.

Rosie said...

This has to be one of my favourite puddings and I am salivating viewing your pics of your yummy rice pud!!

Rosie x