Rice Pudding with Saffron Loquats

I had grand plans for cooking this bank holiday weekend but a surprise toothache flawed them all in an instant. The only thing I wanted instead was rice pudding. It is constantly comforting and always adaptable depending on what you have at home. It's nice knowing that you can make it with ingredients found almost anywhere and that flavours can be switched up depending on circumstance. I like it cold topped with poached or roasted fruit and served with nutmeg grated over the top. I got a kilo of the loveliest loquats delivered from work last week which I've been snacking on while I write but knew I wanted to make something more with them. Swap out the loquats for different fruit depending on the season, you want something that is a little bit tart so early season stone fruit that's not so sweet is ideal. Apricots in summer, quince in autumn, and forced rhubarb in winter all work well too.

Saffron Loquats

4 loquats cut in half with stones removed A few tablespoons of sugar A big pinch of saffron 1 star anise 2 bay leaves 2 cloves A few slices of fresh ginger Water Put the sugar and spices into a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add the loquats skin side up into the bottom of the pot. Pour in enough water to almost submerge the fruit and bring to a simmer. Simmer for ten minutes on a medium to high heat before placing a lid on the pot and turning the heat off. Let them cool in the pot before removing the fruit and peeling the skin off each loquat half. Reduce the poaching liquid a little further until it becomes syrupy. Remove the spices and pour the syrup back over the loquats. Chill and keep in the fridge.

Rice Pudding 120g of any short grain rice/Arborio or pudding rice 1 litre of full cream milk 100 mls Double cream 1 teaspoon of vanilla paste A few pieces of lemon peel 1 cinnamon stick A few tablespoons of sugar A pinch of salt Start by infusing the milk with the vanilla, lemon, and cinnamon. Heat the milk up to a near simmer with the vanilla, lemon and cinnamon stick in a pot. Leave it for a few minutes simmering to infuse before pouring the rice in. Keep stirring as the rice absorbs the milk. It will look like a lot of milk but the rice will swell as it cooks. It will take about 15-20 minutes to cook on a low heat for the rice to cook. Taste a grain and if it’s soft you can take it off the heat. As it cools in the pot it will continue to thicken. Once cooled stir in the double cream and a little more milk to get it to a custardy consistency. Serve the loquats on top of the rice pudding with a little of the syrup spooned over too. Grate nutmeg over both and enjoy.

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