I know, I know, it’s January and according to every well-meaning food magazine I am supposed to be in full throttle detox-n-dry damnation mode. But, despite my best intentions to become a “new me,” I seem to keep turning up in the kitchen on tippy toes peering into a piping hot oven to supervise blistering dishes of creamy cinnamon and cardamom-scented baked rice pudding. I simply can’t look away from that bubbling picture of gooey goodness; I’m like a school marm with beady eyes on a busy playground, like a magpie on a blackthorn branch ready to swoop down on it’s delicious prey. About every second day, I inevitably find myself hunkered down at my writing desk savouring spoonfuls of irresistibly milky rice pudding by the bellyful.

Someone call Slimming World, I might need an intervention.

In the meantime, I shall choose to view this habit as a sort of restorative treatment, a body wrap of warming and protective wholesome comfort food in preparation for my big year ahead. It’s all about the FOMO on rice pudding. (because you never know when this dairy delight will be extinct) and the YOLO relating to rice pudding (it is actually sort of dangerous.)

The BIG year that I am banging on about would be the year that my first book (aka second baby) is due to hit stores around the world (GULP!) this spring. March 8th to be exact. And, honestly, despite all the minutes, hours, days and years that have gone into bringing this lovechild to life, it still feels like some sort of apparition to me. I suppose until I am actually holding the bouncing hardcover book baby in my hands, I can continue to live my rice pudding dreams. Right?

The Farmette Cookbook, Recipes and Stories from My Life on an Irish Farm is now available for pre-order here, herehere and via all good book outlets. I will be cordially giving away 5 copies upon publication date, so do leave a comment below describing your favourite comfort food (or drink), and your name will be included in the lucky draw.

Farmette_mech_1p-page-001 (1)

Some of my very favourite food heroes got an early sneak peek of the book, and I am gobsmackingly flattered and humbled to share what they had to say (with a heartfelt thanks again to all!)…

“A joyful celebration of life on an Irish farm.  A super, chic book written with the appreciative eye of an outsider who reminds us of the sheer pleasure of living on a dairy farm. Rearing a few table fowl, planting a vegetable garden and an orchard, rediscovering the satisfaction of using home-grown Irish produce to make truly delicious and creative food for family and friends.”—Darina Allen

The Farmette Cookbook is a lovely combination of personal tale and transportive recipe, and it makes me want to come to Ireland tomorrow. In a world full of culinary flimflammery, Imen McDonnell is the real thing: wonderful storyteller and creator of delicious recipes with a traditional edge, all mouthwateringly evocative of this magical place she now calls home.”—Elissa Altman, author of Poor Man’s Feast

“Imen has beautifully captured the rich heritage of Irish farmhouse cooking and cast a 21st century spell on it!”  —Catherine Fulvio, author and award-winning proprietor of Ballyknocken House & Cookery School

“There is magic in Imen McDonnell’s new book, and in her story. Her dedication to uncovering Ireland’s rich food culture and cultivating her own shines through. You’ll want to dive right in, start cooking, and build your own fairy tale.”—Sarah Copeland, author of Feast & Food Director of Real Simple Magazine.

“Imen takes traditional Irish cooking to the next level with her American curiosity and ingenuity. She weaves big city cravings, like potstickers, tacos, banh mi, harissa, pizza, and more, with traditional comfort food made from scratch. Imen’s brave leap of faith and love is a boon for the rest of us: we now have this charming book full of stories and recipes I can’t wait to make.”—Susan Spungen, food stylist, cookbook author & founding food editor of Martha Stewart Living

“It was Imen’s endearing and touching personal writing on all things Irish that first drew me to her beautiful blog.  Her personal journey into the history of traditional Irish recipes is celebrated throughout this carefully considered cookbook.  Filled with stories of old and inspirations from Ireland’s exciting new cooking scene, Imen is putting Irish Farmhouse Cooking firmly back on the map.”—Donal Skehan, Irish food personality and author of Kitchen Hero 

“If you have not yet visited Ireland and tasted its authentic foods, you’ll want to after reading Imen’s new cookbook. Living on an Irish farm has never looked this attractive. What a charming and delicious book!”—Béatrice Peltre, author of La Tartine Gourmande

“A beautiful story of an American city girl falling in love with a dashing Irish farmer and the food that she began to create once settled in rural Ireland. With recipes for everything from Nettle, Sweet Pea and Turf-Smoked Ham Soup to Irish Stout and Treacle Bread, this evocative cookbook will have you wanting to don your wellies and your best apron to grow, cook, and preserve Imen-style.”—Rachel Allen, Irish food personality, bestselling cookbook author, and teacher at the Ballymaloe Cookery School.

Here’s a handful of recipes & images that I love….

Boxty ComfortingFishPie haybale mayeveteacake sweetfarmercheesedanish

Farmhouse Rice Pudding
One of my mother-in-law’s favorite desserts was a simple creamy, dreamy rice pudding with a spoonful of orchard jam. It took me a few tries to create my own working recipe, and eventually I realized that a simple, old-fashioned baked version yields the perfect consistency to please everyone on the farm. Still super creamy, but with a golden, carmelized skin on top that everyone fights over, this recipe is easy to knock up and serve any day of the week.

Serves 6

1 3/4 cups (414 ml) Evaporated Milk
2 cups (475 ml) whole milk (raw, if you can get it)
4 oz (110 g) pudding or aborio rice
1/3 cup (40 g) golden granulated or superfine sugar
1 whole nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
2 tablespoons (25 g) butter
1 jar of your favorite jam (optional)

Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Lightly butter a 9-inch (23-cm) round or similar sized ovenproof baking dish.
Mix together the evaporated milk and whole milk in a bowl. Stir in the cinnamon and cardamom. Put the rice and sugar in the baking dish, pour in the liquid, and stir well. Grate the whole nutmeg over the surface, then dot the butter on top in little pieces.
Bake on the center shelf of the oven for 30 minutes, then slide the shelf out and stir the mixture well. Bake for another 30 minutes, then stir again. Bake for another hour without stirring.
At the end of the cooking time, the rice grains will be swollen, with pools of creamy liquid all around them, and a carmelized coating on top. Allow to cool slightly then. Slather the top with jam, if you like, and serve.
Scullery Notes: If you cover the pudding completely with a layer of jam, it will be freshest if eaten within two days; otherwise, it will last for week in the fridge.

Which foods bring you comfort?

Slan Abhaile,

Photos and Styling by Imen McDonnell and Sonia Mulford Chaverri.

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72 Responses to “Farmhouse Rice Pudding”

  1. Kim says:

    I find comfort in a bowl of bread pudding with rum sauce …to die for!
    Best of Luck with your book launch.

  2. Zee Johnston says:

    Baked Rice Pudding, has got to be my favorite. Growing up on a farm in PA, we baked it in a huge roasting pan. My recipe is almost identical to yours, I leave out the Cardiman, adding raisins, and yes, we used raw milk from the farm! I have not tried the jam on top but sounds delicious. And yes the golden brown topping is one of my favorites. It brings back so many memories of childhood also.

  3. Mary Eve says:

    Until my first visit to Ireland, it was a warm bowl of homemade chicken and dumplings. Since Ireland it is a bowl of pureed vegetable soup with a slab of brown bread with Irish butter. There is nothing better.

  4. John Ongena says:

    My favorite comfort food would have to be sticky toffee pudding. My first introduction was in a hotel restaurant in the Donegal area. That of course was followed by a Jameson and some great craic by the fire.

  5. Katja says:


    I noticed there’s powdered evaporated milk and liquid evaporated milk at my grocery store – which do I want?

  6. Mary Kelly Barber says:

    More pictures of your Airedale please!

  7. I don’t know if I’m too late to comment to be eligible to win a book but, my go-to comfort foods all seem to involve starch: fresh baked bread with lots of soft butter, mashed potatoes, or a bowl of white rice with butter and black pepper. My mother has commented on how odd the rice is, as we never ate much when I was growing up.

    Oh, and a nice cuppa as well.

  8. Sara says:

    Hi!! I love your blog! Lately, I’ve been a little obsessed with everything Ireland so I think it was love at first sight with your blog 🙂 Congratulations on your cookbook!! I am eagerly waiting for it to come out! I have written it on my agenda as soon as I knew! 🙂 My favorite comfort food is tonyu nabe, or soy milk japanese hot pot. It is something that is eaten during winter in Japan. Since it is a big hot pot in the middle of the table and everyone takes from it, it is a meal that is meant to be shared with those close to you and one of those that bond you to people over this delicious food 🙂 There are almost an incredible amount possibilites of nabe, from the broth to the ingredients, etc. but my favorite is a base of dashi, miso and soy milk. Have you ever tried it? I recommend it very much!!

  9. Sylvia says:

    Congratulations on your cookbook, Imen! I’m really looking forward to the recipes, the photos, and the stories! My favorite comfort food is a meal first prepared for me by my German grandmother, kidneys and rice with a side of creamed spinach. It’s something I always requested for my birthday dinner — much to the dismay of my seven siblings — and something I still make for myself from time to time.

  10. Food Mumbai says:

    Nice post with these real photos… many unknown facts are revealed in this post… thanks for sharing & warm regards from Food Mumbai Blog.

  11. Ruth says:

    It’s a hard choice, but my favorite comfort food is probably polenta and eggs. We lived in Milan when I was small and my mother learned to make polenta way before it was trendy. She always made a big batch and then we’d have left over polenta with fried eggs the next morning. Of course, you could have it for dinner too, adding asparagus to dip in the runny yolks…

    But milk puddings come a close second – rice, tapioca, chocolate, butterscotch – and your recipe makes me long to make it soon. But I’d completely forgotten about jam with the rice pudding. I haven’t had it that way since school!

  12. Molly Hardy says:

    You are a precious friend and I love you dearly. You were one of my special friends when I lived in Ireland, and still are. I have ordered two copies of your book from Amazon when 1st announced. They will arrive on March 8th. You can autograph one when I next visit Ireland. Can’t wait. Love and Peace, Molly, and Bill, too.

    • imen says:

      Thank you so much Molly!!! I miss you terribly, please let me know when you are returning to Ireland for a visit. I hope you are well. Much love to you and Bill! Imen xx

  13. Jen Kohan says:

    So I was determined to master brown bread, and your recipe has been the key. I brought a loaf to Christmas libations with my boyfriend (Con) and his brothers, and they gobbled it up. Through the jigs and the reels we discovered how small the world is when Aiden helped me make the connection (I mentioned ‘Farmette’). Love from the Scanlons in St. Paul…Connie and I should be in Shanagolden this summer! (Your recipe beats the pants off Kevin’s.)

    • imen says:

      Love it Jen!!!! Look forward to meeting you this summer. Con is a great guy, I remember meeting him years ago and taking some really funny photos at the Dubliner. I am glad you like the brown bread, it’s a favourite here too!
      Imen x

  14. Ann ie says:

    I’m a French girl also living in Ireland (also for a man, not a farmer though..) and your site is an absolute delight for me to read! 🙂 I’m also looking forward to your book, I love the way you describe Ireland, always very touching and full of sensibility. And I also definitely see myself in this recipe, as it is one of my Dad’s favourite: in French, we call it “riz au lait” or “teurgoule” , when cooked in the oven. It’s slightly different as we don’ use cinnamon but a whole vanilla bean infused in the rice, the smell in the kitchen is amazing and it’s really hard to resist it! Thanks for bringing this memory to me. Best of luck with the launch of your book!

  15. Emily says:

    Rice pudding! Hands down 🙂

  16. bea says:

    It’s beautiful Imen. You should feel proud. Makes me want to travel to Ireland and its cherished countryside now, and to taste delicious dishes like the ones found in your book.

  17. Trina-Lea says:

    A baked macaroni and cheese full of sharp cheesy goodness…with a side of digestive enzymes! 😉
    The book looks amazing as does the rice pudding which I cannot wait to make for my Mum…that along with bread pudding are her favorites.

  18. Sarah H says:

    Oh goodness, I am one of those people in full throttle detox mode! It feels decadent to even THINK about my favorite comfort foods. But, I will, for a chance at your lovely new book! It’s probably a toss up between a big serving of mashed potatoes and baked macaroni and cheese. Although, those are rare eats for me even not in detox mode, so my more regular comfort staple is probably freshly baked oatmeal, chocolate chip cookies. Mmm!

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