Sometimes the simplest things in life are the most pleasurable. Feeling the warmth of the sunshine on your face, sharing a hot, frothy latte with someone in the morning, finishing a run that you just put a bit more effort into than usual, making someone smile. They are not elaborate, complicated, challenging, things. They do not require much effort or hours of dedication. They are simple, but special. This is how I feel about rice pudding.
It is a simple dish, comprising of relatively few basic ingredients. It does not require hours and hours of preparation or cooking. But it offers sweet reassurance, and comforting sustenance, like the way a hug does. Its a creamy, sweet, hug.
This version uses brown rice, which I have grown quite fond of in this application. It retains a bite to it, even after a day or two in the fridge (if it lasts that long) and it just not as squishy/sludgy/stodgy as pudding rice can be. And its a bit healthier. Might almost make up for the full cream milk. Almost.
The latest verison of this I made, I managed to finally not curdle the milk. The gas stove that I have makes it very challenging to prevent the milk and rice from boiling away furiously. Don’t let it do that. It will get to a point and before you know it its split. It will still be edible, but not quite as pretty as it should be. And not creamy. So watch out for boiling. I put mine on the smallest gas ring thing on the stove and keep it turned down super low all the time.
You can add whatever you like to rice pudding. Any kind of dried fruit. No dried fruit. Any kind of spice. No spice. Honey, agave, sugar, syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, mixed spice, dried blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, cherries… Possibilities, like grains of rice, are endless. So chuck in whatever you have in the cupboard. Or whatever calls to you from the supermarket shelf. And then enjoy. For a week of carbo loading, like I am doing now pre half marathon, its a perfect excuse for pudding.
Blueberry Brown Rice Pudding
serves 4 to 6 (or just 1 if you have an insatiable pudding appetite. Like me)
Adapted from Joy the Baker
4 cups water
1 cup brown rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups full cream milk
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons honey or agave
1/2 vanilla bean, split open (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
1 cinnamon stick
pinch of ground cardamom
1/2 cup dried blueberries (or any dried fruit you like)
Rinse brown rice in a strainer under cold water for 30 seconds.
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil with the brown rice and salt. Turn flame down to medium and simmer rice, uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 30 minutes, drain rice and water. Let rice sit in strainer for 10 seconds and then return to the pot you cooked it in (not over a flame) and immediately put a tight fitting lid on the pot. Let rice rest and steam for 10 minutes.
Once rice is cooked, place it in a bowl and set aside. Add 4 cups of milk, sugar, honey, cinnamon stick, pinch of cardamom and vanilla bean to the pan. Bring to a very low boil, stirring often so the milk doesn’t burn. Add the cooked rice and blueberries to the hot milk. Stir often. Don’t neglect the milk or it might boil too furiously and curdle. Simmer very gently until the milk cooks down and the rice is creamy, about 40 minutes. Place in a large bowl or serving dishes to cool. Serve cold or at room temperature. Or warm. It’s up to you.