Rice Pudding

On a wet Sunday, when the wind feels bitter and the light barely passes for gloomy; when time drags cruelly and tears flow easily, I figure you’ve got two choices. Get outside or get in the kitchen.

My reasonable, rational self tried hard to convince me earlier that lacing up either trainers or walking boots would be of most use today. But my greedy, petulant child-ego state won through and so, after gently bubbling in the oven for two and a half hours, a creamy comforting rice pudding has made a welcome appearance in our house.

I followed Nigella Lawson’s recipe in How to Eat so my pudding is heavy in saturated fats, sweet with refined sugar and lifted by both warming vanilla and aromatic nutmeg. It’s sticky, creamy and chewy all at once and that blob of raspberry jam provides a hint of sunshine. Where a walk or run would have invigorated and inspired, this pillows, comforts and reassures.

Next time both real and metaphorical black clouds threaten simultaneously I’ll try and do both.

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Apple Crumble

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Along with caramelised roast pumpkins; crisp, foggy mornings and that first smell of woodsmoke, cooking apples signal Autumn proper for me. Making apple sauce is child’s play. Roughly chopped and simmered down with a spot of butter, sugar and water and maybe a pinch or two of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg or cloves; the transformation from crunch to mush is impressive. The hardest decision is then whether to stir your sauce into cake, serve it up with roast pork, stir into breakfast yoghurt or make a time honoured, quintessentially British comfort pudding: apple crumble.

I’m afraid I can’t give you quantities for a crumble. I make it differently every time, only half relying on any number of recipes at the start of each autumn to remind myself what I’m doing. I stew apples with butter and sugar and maybe stir in fresh blackberries or frozen blueberries if I’ve got any. Meanwhile I ring the changes in the basic topping (butter, flour and sugar) with oats, spices and/or nuts.

I winged the custard today too with equal measures of full fat milk and double cream gently warmed, then a paste of cornflour, egg yolk, sugar and vanilla whisked before heating to just below the boil. Not gonna lie. It was my best yet. I’m looking forward to the leftovers once my daughters have gone to bed!