How many pots of rice pudding have I made over the years, I wonder? Counting the 4 litres I made daily at The Galleon, it would probably be in the thousands. It was one of the most popular dishes we served, especially with rhubarb and apple.
I defy anyone to eat it and not think of their mum, or their grandma, or to remember a time when they were loved by someone, unconditionally. I've seen hard, dangerous men, with maximum security eyes, ready to stab the first man who looks sideways at them, restored to a state of perfect serenity by a bowl of (truly excellent) rice pudding. Really.
To extrapolate from this morsel of anecdotal wisdom it follows, logically, that if everyone on the planet ate (truly excellent) rice pudding on a dedicated basis we would, in time, achieve Total World Peace.
So, for a domestic quantity, pour 2 litres of milk, 1 cup of short grain rice and half a cup of sugar into a heavy based saucepan, bring to the boil, simmer and reduce until the rice is cooked. It'll take somewhere between 1 and 2 hours. You'll know it's nearly ready when it thickens up suddenly and starts to stick, which will mean that the rice grains have popped and softened. Keep an eye on it all the time, and stir it often. When it's ready, add a few drops of rose water and a splash of vanilla. It sets further as it cools, so I usually stop cooking before it gets too thick, otherwise you wind up with brick pudding, and the texture will be tough, and less than truly excellent. Decant into a big bowl, or lots of little ones, and shake cinnamon over it. It serves well cold, but there's nothing quite so good as eating it hot and fresh.
It doesn't have to be cow's milk, of course. Cow is my personal milk of choice. I've made it for vegans and the lactose-intolerant with rice or soy milk, and although I, personally, found it a bit weird, they seemed happy enough.
And just for the record, A.A.Milne buffs. In my opinion, Mary Jane was a thankless little brat who didn't deserve the people who cooked for her.