Rice pudding

I have been cooking this since I was a child – originally using the instructions in Mother’s Revo Cookbook, which came with her new electric cooker in the house she and Bryan bought in Longridge – and latterly following Nigella’s similar recipe from How to Eat (main difference is using butter rather than margarine!). I make it either in the yellow oval metal tin that came with that Revo cooker (we’ve had it as long as I can remember) or in a more elegant oval white stoneware bowl that Irene and I were given for our CP.

The ultimate in comfort food, rice pudding can also be elegant – when served with Pears in Red Wine, say, or with a salad of oranges or mango. Nigella says to melt the butter, but I don’t see the point when you’re about to put the pudding into a hot oven. Sometimes I put half a vanilla pod in, instead of vanilla essence, which gives a stronger vanilla flavour – especially using the amazingly fragrant vanilla pods that Irene’s father bought back from his travels.

4 tbsp short-grain rice
2 tbsp caster sugar
500 ml full-cream milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
15g butter
Freshly grated nutmeg

Heat the oven to 150ºC/Gas 2. Grease the pudding dish, and add the ingredients in the order given, dotting the butter on the top of the pudding, and grating the nutmeg on top. Cook slowly in the oven for 2 hours (my original recipe says 2½ hours but I find it can be stodgy if cooked so long), stirring after 30 mins and again after 1½ hours – I stir the skin in, but you can slip the spoon under the skin if you prefer.

I think this is at its best eaten warm (not hot) either alone or with some fruit (fresh or poached), but it is also delicious cold.

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