Right, are the kids out of the room? Good. Then let’s talk about proper grown-up, adult food. We talk a lot about ‘children’s food’, but is there such a thing as ‘adult food’?
Certainly, there are ingredients, on a normal household budget, which can be a bit prohibitive to splash out on little Tommy and Mary. Having them spit out a half-chewed piece of lobster at £20 a pop is going to make sure they get fish-fingers next time.
Fillet steaks for a family of four is going to set you back the same as would a roast for ten, with leftovers. Luxury foods that could be a special treat for mum and dad can be a hefty sum if the kids are having it too – and the modern younger generation, demanding smartphones and designer trainers at birth, do not like to miss out.
But what adults can eat, that children can’t, is nostalgia. There is no better food than the food of the memory. Heston Blumenthal, the genius three-star Michelin chef, knows this all-to-well and has become the closest living embodiment to a real life Willy Wonka. Yes, his cooking is extremely modern in its preparation and execution, but much of it is rooted in the nostalgia of our food past.
This week’s recipe is just such a twist down memory lane. At its heart, it’s just a rice pudding of old, but with addition of some exciting spice, enriched with butter and cream, and finished with a good slug of adult alcohol. The whisky complements the creaminess and spice perfectly, and turns this into a great ‘adults only’ dessert.
‘Adults only’ rice pudding (serves 6)
130g pudding rice
1 litre full fat milk (Jersey is best)
100g caster sugar
60g unsalted butter
150 ml double cream
2 star anise
6 cardamom pods
Good scape of nutmeg
A good whisky
Put the rice, milk, sugar, saffron, nutmeg and 20g of butter in a large oven proof casserole and stir well. Place the other spices in a muslin cloth bag and secure so they will not fall out during cooking. Place in the middle of the rice mixture.
Place the casserole with the lid on in a pre-heated oven at 140C for 1½ - 2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent lumps, until the rice is soft and the pudding is creamy. Remove the spice bag and leave to cool. It will solidify a little.
To serve, transfer the required portions to a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the cream and the remainder of the butter. Bring up to serving temperature. The pudding should be rich and creamy. Adjust with more cream if needed.
Just before serving, stir in 1 tablespoon of whisky per portion. Serve on its own, or with fruit. Orange segments macerated in powdered ginger go especially well.
Eat it all - and don’t tell the kids.