Let it rain, let it blow, let it snow. All are great excuses for enjoying decadent warming winter puds. And some of the old traditionals have made a comeback.
Rice pudding for example. I can’t remember enjoying it that much when I was a child, but this winter I’ve actually been craving it.
Originally — because rice was an expensive import — this pudding was prepared exclusively in the kitchens of English kings and queens. It was unsweetened and served as more of a side dish. However, as rice became cheaper, currants and dates were added, it was sweetened and flavoured with cloves and nutmeg. By the 20th century, rice was so cheap it became a staple in schools and hospitals and its rep began to wane. Boredom set in!
However, like bread and butter puddings, the rice pudding has been reinvented. It should be cooked slowly to allow the grains to absorb the liquid and become tender and creamy. But I’ve discovered it can successfully be microwaved for a shorter time — and adding chocolate gives it new appeal.
Old-fashioned bread and butter puddings were one of my mother’s faves — but she didn’t experiment by adding fruit, brandy or whisky. All three make a world of difference. Cheers!
TAMARILLO BRIOCHE PUDDING
Tamarillos have long been popular in crumbles, upside-down puddings and hot fruit sponges. For change, I’ve adapted a French toast recipe as the topping for my baked tams. If brioche is unavailable, use fruit bread or white bread.
Tamarillos: 8 tamarillos, peeled, thickly sliced
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice
Topping: 6-8 thick slices Brioche bread
3/4 cup cream
1 teaspoon finely grated orange rind
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Place the tamarillos in a 26cm x 16cm baking dish. Sprinkle with the brown sugar, orange juice and five-spice. Cover with foil and bake for about 20 minutes until just cooked.
Meanwhile, trim the crusts from the bread.
Beat the cream and eggs until combined. Add the orange rind. Pour into a shallow tray. Add the bread slices turning to coat evenly. Stand until the egg mixture has been absorbed by the bread.
Carefully cut each bread slice into 4 triangles Place on top of the tamarillos in a neat pattern. Bake for about 25 minutes until the bread is golden. Serves 6.
PEAR TART WITH GOAT'S CHEESE
If using feta, remove some of the salt by soaking the cheese in water for 30 minutes before using.
2 sheets frozen flaky pastry
4 pears, cored, sliced lengthways
3 tablespoons maple syrup
100g French-style goat's cheese or goat feta cheese, crumbled
3-4 tablespoons flaked almonds
2 tablespoons cream
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Join the pastry sheets together to make a 20cm x 30cm rectangle. Lay on the prepared tray. With a sharp knife, score a rim around the edge of the pastry taking care not to cut all the way through. Prick the inside with a fork. Arrange the pear slices inside the rim.
Drizzle with the syrup and scatter with the crumbled cheese and flaked almonds. Brush the outside edges with the cream.
Bake for 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden. Serves 6-8.
CHOCOLATE RICE PUDDING
Make this in the microwave — prevents the pudding sticking to the saucepan. Great topped with sliced bananas tossed in brown sugar
1/4 cup medium grain rice, rinsed
2 cups milk
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 tablespoons chocolate chips
Combine the rice, milk, cocoa powder, sugar and salt in a large microwave bowl. Cook on high for 5 minutes, stirring halfway through. Reduce the power to 50% and continue cooking for about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. It should be thick and creamy, not solid.
Stir in the vanilla and chocolate chips.
Pour into serving dishes. Great served with whipped cream. Serves 4.