All recipes serve six.
2 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 whole cloves
4 cardamom pods
4 black peppercorns
1 medium-sized onion
340g basmati rice
1 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
700ml chicken stock
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp soft brown sugar
2 tbsp plump raisins
1 tbsp roasted slivered almonds
Peel the onion and slice very thinly while heating a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Pour in the oil and fry the whole spices for 10 seconds. Now add the onion and fry until the onion colours and begins to char slightly. Add the rice, ground spices, sugar and stock. Stir well and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Let the pot simmer for 15 minutes, then add the raisins. Put the lid back on and cook for a further 15 minutes. Scoop out the rice on to a dish or tray and scatter the almonds over the top.
I've never been able to prise out of Pa just how he makes his estimable rice pud, so here's Simon Hopkinson's recipe. It's delicious, and works every time.
100g unsalted butter
115g caster sugar
150g round-grain rice
1.5 litres very best creamy milk
1/2 vanilla pod, split lengthways
225ml double cream
A pinch of salt
Pre-heat the oven to 135C/275F/gas mark 1. Melt the butter in a flame-proof caserole, and add the sugar. Stir and heat gently until gooey, like toffee.
Add the rice and continue stirring until it looks puffy, pale golden, and sticky with sugar. Add the milk, which will seethe, and the rice, butter and sugar mixture will set into lumps. Fear not. Feel around with a wooden spoon and disperse the lumps, because, as the milk heats, it will dissolve all in its path.
Add the vanilla pod and squash it around to release its little black seeds. Add the cream and salt, and bring to the boil. Place in the oven and cook for 3-4 hours, or until it is just starting to set but still slightly liquid-looking. As the pudding cools, it will finish cooking in its own heat. Serve lukewarm, or cold if you like, but never hot.
Rice with peas
Risi e bisi is one of the chief glories of Venetian cooking and, if not the most venerable dish, then certainly one of the most famous.
1kg freshest young peas, not podded
240g carnaroli rice
2 medium-sized onions
800ml chicken stock (or vegetable stock with the pea pods added for more flavour)
80g unsalted butter
A fully-charged pepper mill
1 large piece very good Parmesan
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Shell the peas, reserving the pods. Boil the stock, put in the pods, and boil for a further 5 minutes. Strain, reserve the stock and discard the pods.
Peel and finely chop the onions, then add to the heated butter in a heavy-bottomed pot. Let this cook over a medium heat until the onions are softened.
Put the peas into the pot, with a goodly pinch of salt, and cook for 3 minutes or so before pouring in the stock. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Stir the pot every so often, and if the rice starts to show signs of thickening, add a splash of water. Continue in this way for around 20-25 minutes until the rice is cooked, the kernels intact offering little or no resistance to the bite. Once done, stir in the chopped parsley, generous gratings of Parmesan, and eat.
Rice and spinach cake
Torta di riso e spinaci is a handsome and satisfying dish, and best served alongside buffalo mozzarella, a good tomato and a fine bottle of red.
500g fresh, tender-leafed spinach
250g arborio or carnaroli rice
2 medium-sized onions
2 cloves garlic
25g unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
3 fresh, well-born eggs
60g Parmesan, grated
2 or 3 sage leaves
A pinch of thyme
A pinch of oregano
A generous grating of nutmeg
Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Wash the spinach several times in a sink full of cold water. Remove the stalks and imperfections from the spinach. Place a large pan of water to boil and plunge in the spinach. Quickly remove the spinach, cool in iced water and drain thoroughly. Rinse the pan, refill with water and return to the cooker to boil. Form the spinach into balls, squeezing out any excess water, then chop finely. Tip the rice into the boiling water and cook for 10-12 minutes. Drain the rice and mix with the spinach.
Peel, finely chop, and fry the onions in the oil and butter until pale and softened, then add to the rice and spinach. Pick and chop the herbs, peel and finely chop the garlic, grate in about 4 tablespoons of Parmesan, add in the eggs, sea salt and several grinds of pepper. Mix all this together, then smooth into a dish or a tin lined with liberally-buttered silicon paper. Bake the cake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden
Jeremy Lee is the chef at the Blue Print Cafe, London SE1.