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Perfect Pairing: Cinnamon, cardamom & white pepper rice pudding

A different and indulgent take on the ultimate comfort food cries out for something rich and sweet to toast its celebratory essence.

Five years after my mother died of lung cancer in 2013, I set up the not-for-profit cookery school Life Kitchen. Since its formation we have led classes all over the UK, joined forces with charities and organisations that work with people living with cancer, and supported hundreds of people who have had their senses altered as a result of the disease or its therapies. Our one overarching aim is to help people find pleasure in food again.

In Small Pleasures: Joyful Recipes for Difficult Times, my focus has been to develop exciting, easy-to-create dishes for when we feel rundown, lethargic or blue. The aim has been to provide a holistic approach: these are dishes packed with bold flavours and good-for-you ingredients that look beautiful. They create a manifesto for feeling good again. Whether you’re recovering from illness, running on empty or feeling low, each recipe is intended to nourish and heal, to restore body, mind and soul, and should you need it, to revive your love of cooking and eating. Pleasure in food doesn’t have to be complicated – and it’s available to all of us, whatever our mood or level of physical wellbeing.

Cinnamon, cardamom & white pepper rice pudding

Rice pudding is the food of my childhood, and I’m not sure there is a dessert I find more comforting. This new take on a premium classic requires very little effort for maximum indulgence.

Serves 2

Preparation time 10 minutes

Cooking time 2 hours

Ingredients

  • 100g pudding rice
  • a small knob of unsalted butter, to grease the dish
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 350ml whole milk
  • 350ml double cream
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 orange, zest and juice
  • 3 bay leaves

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/gas 2.

2. Wash and drain the rice until the water runs clear, then butter a medium baking dish (about 20-25cm diameter) thoroughly all over the inside.

3. In a bowl, mix the rice with all the remaining ingredients apart from the bay leaves. Transfer it to the baking dish, spreading it out evenly, then lay the bay leaves on top.

4. Place pudding in the oven for about 2 hours, until the rice is tender and the top is golden brown and bubbling. Leave the pudding to stand for 15 minutes, then serve.


Small Pleasures: Joyful Recipes for Difficult Times by Ryan Riley was published in January 2024 (£22 hardback, Bloomsbury)

Book cover of Small Pleasures: Joyful Recipes for Difficult Times by Ryan Riley

Ryan Riley founded the Life Kitchen cookery school in 2019 in his home town of Sunderland. He runs cookery classes for people living with cancer across the country, including collaborations at Daylesford, River Cottage and the Jamie Oliver Cookery School. His first book Life Kitchen was published in 2020. @ryanrileyy @lifekitchen


The wines to drink with Cinnamon, cardamom & white pepper rice pudding

by Fiona Beckett

You might question whether wine is an appropriate drink to turn to for this quintessentially comforting ‘nursery’ pudding, but there’s something quite celebratory about a homely recipe like this and its associated memories, especially if you’re sharing it with friends. So why not? Given the citrus element I’d be tempted to go for something orangey – a Spanish Moscatel would be a very affordable choice, or you could try an Orange Muscat such as Andrew Quady’s Essensia from California or Brown Brothers Orange Muscat & Flora from Australia, as below. (An Aussie late-harvest Semillon would actually work, too.)

Stepping up the richness, I wouldn’t be averse to a marmaladey Passito di Pantelleria from Sicily or a (relatively young) Hungarian Tokaji, either. I also like the idea of a sweet (dolce) Marsala or a cream Sherry or Montilla, which would bring a raisiny element to the party. Two other leftfield choices which are non wine-related would be spiced chai tea or – especially indulgent – a shot of Grand Marnier liqueur.

Wines selected by our Decanter experts


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