Rice pudding is a home-style dessert that is also welcome at a dinner party, dressed up with a little mango coulis.
First, you need to blanch about a third of a cup of rice by covering with water and bringing to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes, and then rinse and drain. Cut a vanilla bean in half and scrape all seeds into 3 cups of milk and bring to a simmer; stir occasionally and do not allow to boil. Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter and a quarter-cup of sugar, stirring, and remove from heat. Stir in the rice, pour into a baking dish, cover, and bake in the oven at 300 degrees for 2 hours. (This recipe is loosely based on one from Patricia Wells’ Bistro Cooking.)
You can serve this warm comfort food right away, or cool and fold in sweetened whipped cream for a richer finish to a meal (that can be made in advance). To make it suitable for guests, whip up a mango sauce by processing the fruit and enough simple syrup (equal parts of sugar and water boiled until dissolved) to pour over a serving, and garnish with bits of the chopped fruit.