Split half of the vanilla pod length ways, scrape out the seeds.
Place the milk and vanilla in a heavy-bottomed pan. Bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat. Add the rice gradually, stirring constantly.
Increase the heat and bring to a boil again.
When the milk boils, reduce the heat, cover and simmer on a very low heat for about 1 hour or until the rice is cooked. Stir from time to time, making sure that the rice doesn’t stick too much to the bottom.
Leave to cool completely.
Whip the cream together with sugar. Fold the whipped cream and almonds into the rice. You can add more sugar or more almonds if you wish. Serve with warm cherry sauce.
Now make the cherry sauce. Place the cherries in a medium saucepan. Add sugar and 1 1/2 cups water. Add the vanilla pod. Simmer until the cherries are tender.
Combine the potato starch with 2 tablespoons cold water.
Bring the cherries to a boil. Remove the vanilla pod from the pot. Reduce the heat, and , stirring constantly, slowly pour the water with the starch. Simmer for a few minutes until the sauce thickens slightly.
Stir in the lemon juice and serve warm over the rice pudding. Garnish with a fresh mint leaf, if desired.
* I used frozen sour cherries in this recipe, but regular sweet cherries should work as well.