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. Róisín says:

    Congratulations! My comfort food of choice is eggs & soldiers.

  2. Krissi says:

    Book looks freakin fantastic, how exciting!

    Comfort food, good ole mash taters!

  3. Pamela says:

    My favorite comfort food is macaroni and cheese, made with cheddar and gruyere.

    The picture of that bread looks amazing!

  4. Ann Hannigan says:

    My favourite comfort food is Goshua. Ok, now what’s this?, I hear you say. I live in Northern Spain and Goxua is a traditional Basque dessert: a big bowl with a thick layer of whipped cream, a thin layer of sponge cake and a thick layer of custard, topped with burned sugar like Crème Brùlée.

  5. Kelly Hannan says:

    Hi Imen, sending you tons of well wishes from Arizona! I am so excited for your book to hit the shelves soon. 🙂

    When I think of my favorite comfort food, I am flooded with all sorts of things – sweet, savory and everything in between. If I had to pick just one, I think it would have to my father-in-laws brown bread with Irish butter and homemade jam (preferably black currant 🙂 and a big ol cup of tea.

  6. What a delightful and intriguing recipe. I’ve never baked rice pudding (and I love the fact that it barely contains sugar). It’s a comfort food in Spain as well, and a dish I’ve indulged in recently a number of times too…
    However, my favourite comfort foods are savoury with such dishes as ‘papas con chocos’ topping the list. 😉 I very much look forward to your book!
    xo, Debra

  7. Carol says:

    My favorite comfort food is my mom’s scrambled beef. She used to serve it over mashed potatoes or rice. In her later years she loved (and we all did, too) a dish of rice pudding or bread pudding.
    Good luck with your lovely book!

  8. Kate says:

    I think Tuna Mornay is my ultimate comfort food. It is what I ate as a child when the dinner on offer was deemed too ‘grown up’ for my taste buds. I can’t wait to devour the Farmette cookbook. I don’t doubt it is sublime in every way. Congratulations, Imen. x

  9. Jennifer says:

    I cannot wait to see your book! I love your recipes and the farm feeling they have. I live on a farm in the southeastern U.S. In Georgia at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. We have deep southern roots and comfort food is a way of life here. My absolute favorite thing is peach cobbler in late July when our Georgia peaches are at their peak. There is truly nothing better and more simple! Peaches, sugar, basic pie dough- anything more would ruin the peaches. That’s also the time of year we do our jellies. My favorite is peach lavender. Then on the darkest winter morning in January, you can have a taste of summer smeared on warm crusty bread with butter from the creamery down the road. It’s definitely comfort!

  10. Linda says:

    Looking forward to your book! You always have such good recipes. My comfort food is meatloaf sandwiches on sourdough bread with butter. My grandmother would make the best meatloaf with a thick top of browned tomato sauce and it made the best sandwiches. I would sit at the counter with her and we would talk about our day.

  11. Congratulations on the new book, can’t wait to get a copy! My favorite comfort food is still mac and cheese and probably always will be, with freshly baked currant scones running a close second.

  12. Emily Grace says:

    Congrats, Imen!

    Comfort food….cornbread with butter and tomato preserves or seedless blackberry jam. Or sweet cornbread in a bowl with cold, cold milk. Yum, Appalachian comfort from my mom’s family.

    Emily Grace

  13. Laurel says:

    Oh, so many comfort foods to love! I am partial to the savoury type such as a hearty chowder or scalloped potatoes loaded with butter and cream. Waiting with eager anticipation for your cookbook…here’s to hoping for a complimentary copy!

  14. Carmel says:

    It has to be Colcannon for me! I’ve been away from the homeland for a while but I haven’t left my potato-eatin’ roots behind! When I can get my hands on kale over here in France I could actually cry with happiness! A strong runner-up, by a shave and a breath, is my Mother’s chicken and barley soup. Memories of that same soup bubbling away on my Granny’s stove fills me with a childlike pleasure that only comfort food can bring!

  15. Paula Lydon says:

    Big congrats! Can’t wait to get my hands on your book. It looks amazing.
    My favourite comfort food is a throwback to childhood.
    Memories of egg sandwiches made with eggs
    from our own hens and scallions & lettuce from the garden.

  16. Julie says:

    For sure, puddings of all sorts are my favorite comfort food. I usually choose a simple chocolate pudding (Martha Stewart’s recipe is my favorite). But this rice pudding is happening this weekend.
    Cannot wait to read your book – so excited for you!!

  17. My favorite comfort foods are foods that my grandmother used to cook, especially fried chicken and mashed potatoes. She raised me and my siblings, she worked day and night, and she always made comfort food every day of the year. We ate fried chicken about every other week. Her fried chicken was perfectly seasoned, perfectly crispy, and perfectly juicy. And the mashed potatoes had enough butter in them to make me swoon.

  18. Julie Smith says:

    Congratulation! You were starting this great adventure when we visited you and your family. We had the privilidge of eating a delicious home cooked meal you served us. Now I can’t wait to see your cookbook. Geoff is a handsome boy. I may get to see you if you visit Bloomer. I have moved back and finally have my own large fruit garden. Fresh berries of all kinds. Best Wishes to you.

  19. LJ Stubbs says:

    I am a fan of macaroni and cheese for comfort, but rice pudding is a solid second choice.

  20. Ashley says:

    What a lovely baby you’ve made! My roots are in the South, so whenever I need comfort I turn to a bowl of brown beans with corn bread and collard greens…piping hot.

  21. Kristin says:

    I find so many foods comforting, but I really love tea with cinnamon toast cut into soldiers, because my grandmother used to give me that. And I am very glad that we’d planned to go out for Indian food for lunch today, so I can have some rice pudding with cardamom. I look forward to making your recipe.

  22. Sally Savage says:

    I love the reviews of your new book! Can’t wait to get a copy. As an American ,who has been lucky enough to live in Ireland part-time and have written a book about Kerry horse fairs, I wish you the best. Ireland fills a deep well in me with such positive interactions of Irish food and people. And for me a good gingerbread with brambles !

  23. Laurie says:

    Hello, Imen! That rice pudding sounds wonderful and I think I may have to make it for my family this weekend (since MN will be getting another blast of cold!). My favorite comfort food? Oh, so many. But, I’m drawn to potatoes– so, I’m going with garlicky, scalloped potatoes with Gruyere cheese. Yum. Congrats again on your book– can’t wait to see it!

  24. Lori Matthews says:

    Imen, Joseph and I just had this discussion about his favorite comfort food and rice pudding was his answer! I will be making your recipe for him as a surprise today! I can hardly wait to get my hands on your cookbook! So happy for you my friend.

  25. Cindy W. says:

    This rice pudding looks divine! My favorite comfort food is Chinese rice porridge, congee!

  26. Terry says:

    Congratulations on your lovely book! My favorite comfort food is any homemade bread, warm, slathered with butter. It always reminds me of a farm neighbor I had when young.

  27. Rice pudding was also a fav at our house (family of seven!!!). My mother layered thinly sliced apples (sprinkled with cinnamon) in the pudding! It was a delicious treat!!

    Best wishes with your book! The photography is stunning!

  28. Debbie G says:

    I know it sounds odd but one of my favorite comfort foods is when my mom use to make pie & would use the left over dough to make cinnamon crust. She would roll it out, smear soft butter & sprinkle with lots of cinnamon & sugar. Roll it up & slice spiral rounds placed in an empty pie tin & bake. The were hot gooey crunchy rounds of love. I think I liked them better than her wonderful pies. The entire house smelled wonderful.

  29. Denise says:

    My absolute favourite comfort food is scrambled eggs; it probably nods back to a time as a child and having a boiled ‘googoo’ (we called eggs that, did anyone else?) and buttery toast at the kitchen table at home.

  30. Caroline says:

    Hi Imen! I cannot wait to get a copy of your lovely cookbook and have a go at the recipes. I’m kind of hoping my favourite will be in there: apple charlotte with oodles of custard.

    All the best!
    Caroline x

  31. Sally Anne says:

    A sausage sandwich !!does that count in culinary terms!! Looking forward to your new arrival!x Sally Anne

  32. Katherine says:

    I’ve been reading your blog from near to its beginning and I’m so happy for your success. As a fellow American who lived in Ireland for 11 years (now in France) I can see how beautifully you’ve captured old Irish cooking, blended it with your own ideas, and thrown in a nice helping of American delights. Congratulations!

    Macaroni and cheese, properly homemade, for me!

  33. Miranda says:

    Let me confess I cannot stomach rice pudding… it’s one of those Christmas staples here in Portugal, covered in intricate designs done with powdered cinnamon, my mother would cook it every year for Christmas and she and my sister would bask and delight in it, I would get sick just by looking at it… Despite how good it always looks, because truth be said it is one heck of a beautiful dessert!! That book of yours, on the other hand, is one thing I wouldn’t mind having and going for it once and again and again, for sure!!

  34. Deirdre says:

    Hi Imen
    It’s gotta be Bread & Butter pudding, with custard. Hope there’s a recipe in your book for my ultimate comforter food.
    Best of luck with book, looking forward to reading it already.

  35. Suzan says:

    SO excited for your cookbook! My favorite comfort food would have to be melted cheese on toast.

  36. Toni says:

    Warm chocolate chip cookies. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

  37. Elizabeth says:

    I long to spend time between the covers of your book!! It looks transportive!!!
    My comfort food is soup- chicken noodle soup.

  38. Maddie says:

    One of my fav comfort food comes from my Grandma, ….lol, could be Irish,…. toasted bread with butter, cottage cheese sandwich. Course cup of tea. 🙂

  39. Marika says:

    Congratulations, you must be chuffed beyond compare—I’m quite certain your new book will be lovely indeed, as all your work is. Ah, the lure of comfort food—you’ve planted warm pudding in my mind, and that’s a strong contender. I’m also so strongly drawn to yeasted things: Danish braids, brioche, cinnamon buns, homemade plain raised doughnuts—oh my, I’m in heaven just thinking about it!

  40. Lisa Silver says:

    That rice pudding looks gorgeous! I’d love nothing more than a warm bowl right now.

    Comfort foods for me vary on my mood, the weather and who’s cooking it. It could be my mother’s stewed chicken and dumplings, my father’s chicken piccata, or my grandma’s walnut crescents.

    Congratulations on your book. It looks amazing.

  41. jacquie says:

    congratulations on the book. my favorite comfort food – toast w/ a nut butter. the best

  42. My favorite comfort food is bread and I make Swedish Limpa, Brioche, Challah and regular white bread. I have other breads on my list to make soon as well. I’d love to receive a copy of your new cookbook. I’m so happy for you to have it finished!

  43. Bethie says:

    All my life, my favorite comfort food has been my grandma’s chicken and noodles. We serve it over mashed potatoes and fondly call it ” carb overload”. The noodle recipe confused me forever, because how much salt is a ” half a shell full per egg”? Never could ask her since sadly she passed before I thought to get the recipe, so I’ve had to go by taste. Think I’ve gotten it close, after ten years of trying!

  44. Peg says:

    My incredibly easy, no fuss comfort food has always been thick toast with an embarrassing amount of butter. The comfort quotient has increased now that my local grocery store is carrying Irish butter!

  45. Eleanor says:

    I cannot think of anything that says comfort more than a roast chicken and mashed potatoes. The leftovers lend themselves to other wonderful comfort foods as well ~ those mashed potatoes topping a lovely Shepherd’s Pie and the chicken transformed into Pot Pie or noodle soup. The possibilities are endless. So is the comfort.
    Looking forward to adding your book to my library.
    Congratulations ~ it looks so lovely!

  46. Lena says:

    I think my favorite comfort food is a big bowl of butternut squash soup with savory scones and butter. Even better if it’s in a cosy irish pub with a pot of tea… heaven !

  47. Donna Shaw says:

    I’m hungry now. Kudos and such good reviews. I’ll never forget your Hay Ice Cream. I can taste it now. All the best for 2016.

  48. Maureen says:

    There is no event in my life that is not made better with a buttery, flaky, warm, coat-your-fingertips-in gease croissant. Comfort to me is carbs and butter, and croissants are heaven on earth.

  49. Al says:

    Hi Imen,
    Your book looks great !
    Hard to say what is my favorite comfort food but I think I would say my granny’s egg in a cup !!

  50. Ketty says:

    Wow Imen, the pictures are amazing (LOVE the cover) and I can’t wait to read your book. Congratulations!

    PS: My favourite comfort food is tartiflette 😉

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