Festive Rice Pudding for a Fairy Tale Feast

Sunday morning and I haven’t made a rice pudding yet. I have been mulling over the ingredients, starting with searching out various recipes around the world. Yes, rice pudding is global!

We often dismiss this dessert as a humble dish, but certain ingredients will make a pudding incredibly more-ish.

My mother’s version was simply to simmer it on the hob in full fat milk, then add sugar if needed, at the table. Nanna would bake hers, including knobs of butter – everyone seems to agree that the skin is best!

Today I will make a Festive Rice Pudding for a Fairy Tale Feast with

 unsweetened almond milk – 6 cups to 1 cup of rice

chopped dates, dried figs would be nice too – no need for sugar

vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange zest


A dash of Chambord black raspberry liqueur

It will be baked for two hours low heat.

I am anticipating a festive aroma!

The most decadent version was served to me in the Highlands of Scotland. A Lady Claire MacDonald recipe laden with cream and butter!

Persian interpretations are perhaps the most famous – one recipe has milk, one does not. Rose water and cardamon are added, then the dish is adorned with rose petals, almonds and more. See Shir Berenj and Sholeh Zard https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/331999803767086537/

I found another recipe on instagram from Chile with the naughty addition of condensed milk (okay once a year!) Rick Stein has share the Mexican version on his latest jaunt. And please let’s not forget honey, which is made for this sweet dessert.

My culinary reading for the festive season is Nigel Slater’s The Christmas Chronicles.

Other books on the coffee table include:

Marco Polo – from Venice to Xanadau

Norse Mythology

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Plus a couple in the fantasy and magic realism genres arriving in the post soon.

I intend to watch international films throughout winter – the real, the magical.


Rick Stein’s recipe from Mexico:


Nigel Slater:


fairy tale feast

Danish Apple and Prune (and Fig) Cake

Batter cakes work. The sponge has defied for decades with most looking like erupting volcanos or flat pancakes. What I like about batter cakes is that although they are not the best looking cakes in the world, they are wonderfully moist and I love fruits and nuts in my baking. Here is my take on the Danish apple and prune cake. It’s gluten free too!

You will need

A good-sized round cake tin, lined and greased.

125g dairy-free marg (or butter)

170g sugar

2 eggs

100g ground almonds

80g SR GF flour

125 almond milk (or ordinary)

1 tsp vanilla essence

1/2 tsp baking powder

12 prunes and dried figs soaked in cognac overnight (or as they come)

100g chopped walnuts

2 apples peeled and sliced thinly


5 tsps sugar

Knobs of butter or marg

1 tsp cinnamon

What to do

Cream the butter/marg and sugar together, then add the eggs and mix. Slowly add the ground almonds, flour, vanilla, baking powder, milk and mix, creating a batter.

Oh! make sure the oven is heated up to 190C!

Pour the batter in the cake tin. Put the prunes on top of the batter. Then put the walnuts (chopped) on top of the prunes. Finally place the apple slices on the top. Pop in the oven and bake for 40 minutes.

Take the cake out and put on the final topping of cinnamon, sugar and butter. Bake for a further 15 minutes. Check the cake is cooked by inserting a knife in to the middle.

I suppose you should wait until it’s cooled down before taking a slice…

Danish Apple and Prune Cake



Chicken in white wine and dried fruits

Served up as part of the Monday night main course at Arvon Centre, Moniack Mhor  this is delicious. I’ve cooked it twice up at the centre now…

You will need for 6 people

1 onion peeled and chopped

A good handful of fennel seeds

6 chicken thighs skinned and tidied up

Then some:

Dried apricots

Dried figs




Half a bottle of dessert white wine or more

A cup of water

Firstly chop the dried fruits and soak and place in a bowl. Add the wine and allow to soak for a couple of hours.

Go and read for a bit.

Coat the chicken pieces in flour and fry in a pan to seal, then add them to the casserole dish.

Sprinkle on the fennel seeds.

Add the soaked fruits and wine and the cup of water.

Place in the oven and slow cook for approx two hours til the chicken is tender. Don’t let the chicken dry out – add water or wine if needed.

The fruit will go all soft and mushy and the whole thing will smell just divine.

Serve with roasted vegetables and a hearty salad.

So sephardic…