It’s freezing cold. It’s February. It’s bleak, we’re glum. And craving sunshine.
We need something golden, warm, sweet and comforting to make ourselves feel loved. What better winter food fantasy can there be than the thought of sliding a spoonful of rich, creamy velvet slowly into an expectant mouth, watering with anticipation?
Tell me what could be more comforting and restorative on a cold, glum February evening than the deliciously sweet, rich aroma of a Proper Rice Pudding, wafting in from the kitchen, to cuddle us as we sit cosily in front of the fire? Nothing, I’d say!
Except, maybe, an Orange and Ginger Spiced Rice Pudding? Oranges – the sunniest of fruits – are at their juicy best during these beak winter months, just waiting to spill out their fresh, sweet nectar for our delight.
Orange, accompanied by warming cinamon, ginger and nutmeg and ginger, is a marriage made in heaven. Food heaven. Try it.
ORANGE & GINGER SPICED RICE PUDDING (Serves 4)
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
Unsalted butter: 37.5g, plus 1 tablespoon
Ginger: 2 teaspoons, finely grated
Cinnamon: 1.5 teaspoons, ground
Nutmeg: 1.5 teaspoons, finely grated
Short grain (pudding rice): 80g
Double Cream: 375mls**
Unrefined sugar: 37.5g, plus 1 tablespoon**
2 medium – large oranges
You’ll also need a 20 cm round terracotta or other flame-proof dish. (If your dish isn’t flame-proof, use a heavy-based saucepan for Steps 4 – 6).
WHAT TO DO
1. Firstly, soak the rice in cold water for at least an hour (this will soften the grain, make it easier to digest and will substantially reduce the cooking time). Drain the rice well.
2. Soak your terracotta dish in warm water for about 5 mins and dry thoroughly.
3. Meanwhile, prepare your mis-en-place for the rice pudding: Peel and grate the ginger finely, grate the nutmeg finely, measure out the sugar and measure the milk and cream and stir together well. Zest the rind of one orange, then with a sharp knife, peel both oranges vertically and then cut them horizontally into thick rounds. Cover, and set aside.
4. If you’re using a terracotta or clay dish, place a heat diffuser over a COLD gas ring or hot plate (see Techniques: Terracotta Cooking). Put the butter into the dish and melt it slowly on a slow/medium heat.
3. When the butter has melted add the rice. Stir well to coat all the grains – the rice should not sizzle at all. Add the ginger, cinnamon, one teaspoon of the nutmeg, and the orange zest and pour in about half of the milk & cream mixture, stirring well.
4. Increase the heat to medium and bring the liquid up to very slow simmer, then add the sugar, stirring slowly until dissolved.
5. Set the oven to 180 degs (fan) or Mark 5 (gas).
6. Continue to cook the rice on a very slow simmer, until it has softened, but is still quite al dente (about 6- 10 mins). You’ll need to stir (note: lots and lots of stirring in this recipe!) regularly and top up the liquid to maintain a soft, creamy consistency.
7. Give the rice a final stir(!) and top up the liquid if necessary (you may not need to use it all). Sprinkle over the remaining nutmeg and place in the oven – for about 15 mins – until the rice is quite sticky and the top has set and is beginning to brown. Let the pudding sit for 5 mins or so before serving.
8. While the pudding is resting, melt one tablespoon of butter in a hot frypan and sprinkle in one tablespoon of sugar. Add in the orange rounds and let them caramelise lightly on one side.
9. Arrange the orange slices on the top of the rice pudding. Serve the pudding on its own, or with a little cream, Greek yoghurt, or ice cream.
Heavenly. Winter sunshine on a plate!
Tell me what makes the winter sun come out for you?
** If you want it “free from”
…To make it dairy free, you can use full fat coconut milk (about 1.5 cans); if the pudding gets at little stiff as it’s cooking, just add a water as necessary to loosen it.
…The cinnamon will lend quite a bit of sweetness as it’s a very sweet spice, but if you want it sugar free, you can use about five (or more, if you have a very sweet tooth!) stoned and finely chopped dates at Step 4.
…Or, right at the end of cooking, when the rice has cooled a little, you can also drizzle in honey to taste. (I subscribe to the wisdom that heating honey above 40 degs destroys all its benefits and makes it very difficult to digest).