I’ve had a busy week and sometimes when I’m particularly tired I just crave a bit of comfort food. Cake is usually my comfort food of choice, but sometimes even cake isn’t enough. Sometimes I want something warm and milky, something that comes steaming in a bowl that I can wrap my hands around and feel the warmth spread through my fingers and body start to relax before I’ve even taken a spoonful. Today was one of those days.
This afternoon when I opened the fridge door my eyes settled on a bowl of fresh cherries that were starting to look a little droopy and the thought that went through my head was ‘I bet they would be great as a compote’ which led to ‘I bet that compote would taste great on top of some rice pudding….ohhh rice pudding.... I could really eat some rice pudding right now.’
As the rice pudding started to simmer away on the hob, the room was filled with the rich, creamy, slightly sweet aroma of hot milk that always seems to soothe the soul. As I methodically stirred the pan and the rice became plump and tender I could almost peel myself start to unwind and relax. The cherries took on a whole new lease of life in their compote state and I also spiked them with a little almond extract for extra flavour.
Within 30 minutes I was nestled up on the sofa, hugging my bowlful of warm milky rice pudding topped with a spoonful of the glossy cherry compote. And relax…
Vanilla Rice Pudding with Cherry Almond Compote
Vanilla Rice Pudding
150g pudding rice
½ vanilla pod
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp caster sugar
Cherry Almond Compote
2 tbsp caster sugar
½ tsp arrowroot
½ tsp almond extract
Place all of the rice pudding ingredients into a large saucepan and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Heat gently allowing the milk to heat up gradually, stirring every 5 minutes.
Once hot, increase the heat until the milk is simmering and leave to cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until the rice has absorbed most of the milk and become plump and tender. You may want to stir continuously when there is only a little milk left to prevent the rice from sticking to the base of the pan.
Eat a small spoonful of the rice to test for doneness. It should be soft and tender. If it is still a little chalky or al dente, then add another 100ml of rice and cook for a further 5 minutes before tasting again.
While the rice is cooking, prepare the cherry compote.
De-stone the cherries and cut then into small pieces. Place in a small saucepan along with the water and sugar and heat until bubbling. Allow to bubble for 5 minutes until the liquid is reduced by half, slightly syrupy and glossy and the cherries softened.
Dissolve the arrowroot in a small amount of cold water and stir into the cherries. Remove from the heat and stir until the syrup has thickened slightly and become glossy. Finally stir in the almond extract.
Set aside until needed.
Once your rice pudding is cooked, serve in individual bowls topped with a large spoonful of the cherry compote. Also tastes great topped with chocolate drops, a spoonful of jam or some fresh berries.
Best enjoyed just after making if you want to eat it hot, although also tastes delicious cold.
Note: If you want to reheat a portion the next day, place a small amount in your serving bowl and add 50ml milk (it will have become very thick overnight). Heat in the microwave or a small pan until piping hot.