Here’s what we had for breakfast this morning. The recipe isn’t quick–the rice pudding takes about an hour and a half– but it’s worth the time you put into it. It’s especially good for a lazy Saturday. Get up and put on some slippers, then pop the rice and milk onto the stovetop. Have a coffee and thumb through a cookbook or a magazine while your rice pudding cooks down. You need to check on it occasionally, but not too often. It requires just enough attention that you don’t have to feel bad about sitting around doing almost-nothing. As for the stewed prunes, well, I know they’ve got a bad rep, but it’s undeserved. For a great defense of prunes, see Orangette, from whom I borrowed the prune recipe.

The prunes and clementines are a nice mix, with the sweet tang of the citrus and the smoothness of the prunes. And they go perfectly on top of slow-cooked rice pudding (we use jasmine rice, which adds a lovely perfume, but any rice is acceptable), infused with a stick of cinnamon and a few pods of cardamom. Next time you want an excuse to relax Saturday morning, try this out. If you don’t have time to relax, this pudding is forgiving. Just give it a stir now and again and when you need to take a break from work, a fabulous comforting treat will be ready and waiting.

CINNAMON-CARDAMOM RICE PUDDING
makes about 4 cups

3/8 cup rice
5 cups milk
1 small cinnamon stick
2-3 pods of green cardamom
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar

Combine the rice and milk in a medium saucepan. Crush the cardamom pods with the flat side of a knife, and extract the little dark brown seeds. Add these, along with the cinnamon, to the rice and milk. Bring the mixture to a slow simmer over low heat. Cook for 1-1 1/2 hours, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot fairly often. You need to pay attention to this mixture or it will burn and coat the bottom of your pan. If it does start sticking and/or burning, try not to scrape the bottom of the pot too hard or you will dislodge the burnt bits and ruin your pudding.

When the pudding has thickened sufficiently, to a thick and creamy consistency, remove it from the heat and stir in the sugar. I prefer a less sweet pudding, but if you like yours sweeter (or if you’re serving it for dessert), you can go up to 1/2 cup sugar. It can be served warm or cool.

STEWED PRUNES recipe adapted from Orangette

2 large handfuls of pitted prunes
2 clementines, halved and sliced thinly
1 small cinnamon stick (I cut one regular-sized stick in half and used 1/2 for the rice and 1/2 for the prunes)

Place the prunes and clementines in a small pot and pour in enough water just to cover them. Bring them to a boil over medium heat and stew them for 30-45 minutes, until the water has reduced and the prunes and clementines are soft.

I put the rice pudding on the stovetop and then after my third or fourth time checking on it, put the prunes over the heat. Both the pudding and the prunes were finished at around the same time and we ate them warm.

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