In honour of my 99-year-old mum, whose family name is Lush and who has answered to that name all her adult life, and for its sublime taste, I have named this rice pudding “luscious.”
My childhood foodie recollections of my mum are few and far between, but her luscious rice pudding, its golden topping slowly creating a delicious crust as the sweet grains baked in the oven and absorbed the milk and sugar, is a lasting memory. Mostly, I was brought up by my granny, who was a moderate cook with a few simple recipes in her arsenal, produced by necessity on cook’s day off. Mum and dad decamped post-war London to live the louche life in Cairo, while I was stuck in a horrid boarding school run by a sadistic Anglican vicar. During dad’s wartime enslavement by the Japanese on the Burma railway, mum and I lived across Wimbledon Common in a tiny former gardener’s cottage on the Cannizaro estate, and it was there I first met my dad at the age of three-and-a-half.
Cannizaro House has a rich history and is named (with the spelling error) for the estranged wife of the Duke of Cannizzaro, who lived there until her death in 1841. Cannizaro Park, which now covers about 34 acres on the edge of Wimbledon Common, was a garden for about 300 years. The last private owner, Kenneth Wilson, who owned a shipping line, moved into Cannizaro with his wife in 1920 and his daughter sold the property to the local council in 1947, the year he died and my folks decamped to warmer climes. More recently the house has become a Hotel du Vin.
In a Brit food store at York Farmers’ Market in the suburbs north of Toronto, we recently discovered ‘pudding rice,’ which brought all these memories to the fore. The term pudding rice is rarely used outside England, but whatever rice you use in your recipe, the important thing is that it should give a soft, creamy, slightly sticky result. Arborio rice is an Italian short-grained white rice, primarily used for making risotto and a good choice for rice pudding.
LUSCIOUS RICE PUDDING
- 2/3 cup/175 ml pudding or Arborio risotto rice
- 3 cups/750 ml whole milk
- 1 cup/237 ml carton whipping cream
- 3 large free run eggs
- 40g/3 TBSP Turbinado golden cane sugar
- 2 tsp grated nutmeg
- 20g/1 TBSP unsalted butter
- fruit coulis, fresh berries (optional)
Preparation and cooking
- Pre-heat the oven to 150°C/300°F.
- In a bowl beat the eggs, add the cream, milk and sugar and mix well.
- Put the uncooked rice in a greased oven-proof dish and pour on the custard mixture. Stir until all is mixed.
- Sprinkle the grated nutmeg over the top and dot the surface with dabs of butter.
- Put in the oven for 90 mins, until all the liquid is absorbed by the rice and there is a luscious crust on top.
- Allow to stand for at least 10 mins, to give it a chance to set, then serve with a swirl of fruit coulis and fresh berries on top. Refrigerate the left-overs and serve cold or hot the next day. It’s still delicious.
Add raisins, sultanas or dried cranberries in the first mix for a tasty version, but leave the fresh fruit off the top.
My Wimbledon granny’s default dessert was egg custard sprinkled with nutmeg, wonderful and comforting when we were feeling under the weather, but simple and tasty any time.
GRANNY’S EGG CUSTARD
- 1 h 10 m 6 servings
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 dash vanilla extract
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg (optional)
Preparation and cooking
- Preheat oven to 325°F/165°
- Whisk milk, eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla together in a bowl until completely combined.
- Pour egg mixture into 6 ramikins; sprinkle tops with nutmeg. Place cups in a baking pan and fill pan with enough water to reach halfway up the sides of the custard cups.
- Bake in the preheated oven until custards are set, about 1 hour.
- Cool completely before serving.
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