This is a story about the rice pudding I made for my culinary book club night, which was all I felt like eating because I have had a toothache for a week and today after having my tooth fixed, I get to eat the leftovers which will be perfect because it is soft, warm and feels like a hug from the inside which is exactly what I need. I would like to thank Sophie Dahl for giving me an excuse to make a delicious and enormous pot of pudding, and for my flakey book club where only half of us showed up, which means, more pudding for me!
Sophie, if you ever read this, I really loved your book. Voluptuous Delights, was...perfectly delightful. Good storytelling must run in the blood, I found the chapter intros a wonderful read, loaded with imagery. The recipes are simple in a familiar way, a nice twist on ideas here and there, rifs on comforting foods. Our book club dinner was yummy, on one of the first chilly evenings of fall our menu was perfect! Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese and Harissa, Grilled Croquettes and Aubergines (zucchini and eggplant) with Halloumi cheese, Veggie Lentil Pie with Champ, and Cardamom Rice Pudding. All Ms. Dahl's recipes went well together, making a lovely dinner to ring in the fall season. And notably all vegetarian, hoorah!
For those Americans who aren't aware, Sophie is the grandaughter of the beloved Roald Dahl. Ms. Dahl is known in the UK as having an enviable career modeling, blogging and food writing. However, she is quite lovable, and I think we would be good friends.
Back to the rice pudding.
Sometimes rice pudding is cooked in a pot on the stove, sometimes it is an oven affair. Ms. Dahl does hers on the stove. I very nearly followed the recipe. I tried, but now that I am counting up my changes, there are many. Im hopeless! So, my recipe here is based on hers, she uses cows milk and white basmati rice, and the mace was my addition. And she uses raisins but I had run out and used dried apple instead.
Nobody noticed the hemp milk instead of cows milk. The end result was heavily spiced and warming. Raisins would be nice, as they are more juicy than apples. But apples are all about fall. Try it with both!
Cardamom Rice Pudding
5 1/2 cups unsweetened hemp milk (or almond milk)
1 cinnamon stick
1 blade mace
1 1/2 cups brown basmati rice
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract, or seeds from 1 vanilla pod
8 cardamom pods
1/3 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup dried apples
1 cup water (if needed)
The process is quite simple. Heat the milk, cinnamon stick and mace to a simmer in heavy bottomed 6 or 8 qt pot. Stir in the rice and vanilla extract. Keep at low heat for about 40 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure the rice doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan and that the milk does not boil up.
Crush the cardamom pods, discarding the pod and keeping the seeds. When the rice, as Ms Dahl puts it, "looks like a soupy milky risotto" stir in the sugar, cardamom seeds, almonds, and dried fruit.
Cook on very low heat for another 10 minutes. If it gets too dry, add water or more milk. The rice will be tender when done. Past the al dente stage. If it still has a bite, it needs more cooking.
It is lovely served on its own, or with fresh fruit or even jam.
This is a very lovely desert since you can make it ahead, and keep it in the oven or on top of the stove and heating it up when dessert comes around. It also makes a good breakfast.
This pudding is so yummy, I had to resist eating it all while I was taking these pictures before book club. I wish Sophie was my friend, if you are looking to make somebody a friend, you made them some rice pudding, it will win them over. Seriously.