Rice pudding in stilettos

I’ve known how to make my Granny’s rice pud­ding forever. It was the first recipe I could recite by heart, not count­ing the Fried Bread Coated in Tomato Ketch­up I cre­ated as a six year old to earn my Host­ess Badge in the Brownies.

Granny hated being old enough to be called any­thing oth­er than Peggy. So that’s how I always think of her. Peggy made a rice pud­ding most days, using a Pyr­ex bowl that was scoured and scratched with age, like a skat­ing rink on a fren­et­ic Fri­day night.

Into the mis­ted bowl went 6 tea­spoons of pud­ding rice, 6 tea­spoons of sug­ar, 1 pint of full cream milk and a grat­ing of nut­meg. The oven door was opened and the bowl filled with swirl­ing white liquid dis­ap­peared inside. Two and a quarter hours later it emerged in tri­umph, a sweet, rich, creamy con­fec­tion with the thin­nest of brown, toasted tops. Rice pud­ding makes me think of home, steamed-up kit­chen win­dows, laugh­ing like a drain, dan­cing on the table and shock­ing pink lip­stick … with a slightly mourn­ful top note of past times.

Peggy’s recipe is still deli­cious and I often make it, but I’m going to give you a posh­er ver­sion in her hon­our. Peggy was glam­or­ous, showy and full of fun. And she loved any­thing posh. She was a devotee of the eye­brow-pen­cil-down-the-back-of-the-legs altern­at­ive to unaf­ford­able seamed nylon stock­ings. She had a col­lec­tion of trompe-l’oeil polo neck jump­ers that were noth­ing but a ribbed rollover neck, with a mini oblong flap attached front and back that she tucked into a pat­terned shirt — think pro­to­type Ver­sace. With so little to them, the fake jump­ers were cheap­er than their genu­ine rivals so she could afford to buy sev­er­al col­ours.

To Peggy, the epi­tome of lux­ury was being able to do some­thing ‘just for show’. So in her memory, here’s a rice pud­ding with glam­our. A rice pud­ding in stilet­tos.

Posh Rice Pudding

Serves 4

6 tea­spoons of pud­ding rice

6 tea­spoons vanilla sug­ar

Half pint full cream milk

Half pint single cream

1 pinch saf­fron

Quarter cup sul­tanas soaked in quarter cup warm pud­ding wine or sweet sherry for an hour

Half cup unsalted pista­chio nuts

Freshly grated nut­meg

Drain the sul­tanas and drink the sherry if you feel in the mood. Com­bine everything apart from the nut­meg and the nuts in an oven proof pud­ding bowl large enough to leave a one inch gap at the top.

Top with the finely grated nut­meg and then place in the oven for two and a quarter hours at 150 degrees C. The rice should be soft, but the mix­ture creamy rather than sticky.

As you serve it, finely grate anoth­er shower of nut­meg over each bowl and scat­ter a hand­ful of crushed pista­chio nuts on top.

Eat with your eyes closed while listen­ing to Nat King Cole singing Unfor­get­table. This last part of the recipe is most import­ant.

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3 thoughts on “Rice pudding in stilettos

  1. One Indi­an ver­sion has crushed (not ground) almonds added half-way through and a few grains of car­do­mon (crushed or left whole) and a splash of orange water.
    We eat a lot of rice pud­ding, cold in sum­mer hot in winter, in North India. Some­times the rice is ground up.
    Your blog was one inspir­a­tion for start­ing my own!

    • I love the sound of crushed almonds, car­da­mon and orange water. Deli­cious. And I am so happy to hear that Eggs On The Roof helped inspire you — how won­der­ful.

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