Thursday, July 31, 2008

Horchata, and updates

I've been absent for a bit, but I've still been cooking, of course. I've also updated a few things here on the blog, published a few old posts that were languishing in my drafts folder because the pictures had not been uploaded, and created a flickr account (the slideshow in the corner also links to my photostream) so I can upload pictures, when there's no story or recipe to necessitate a blog post.

It's been insanely hot here, which means three things, 1) I don't feel like being active, 2)I've been having a decreased appetite, and 3) I don't feel like slaving over a hot stove. Taking all of those things into account, here's a simple, refreshing recipe to help beat the heat. Horchata is a sort of chilled and spiced rice milk. It's almost always served at taquerias, where it's one of the three most common flavors of aguas frescas. It's made with different seeds or nuts, and just about every recipe has a different ratio, so play with it, and see how you like it. Apparently, in many areas of Mexico, sweet melon seeds are used, in Puerto Rico, sesame seeds are used, and in Spain, tigernuts are used. I'm only familiar with almond horchata, but that's probably just because they are more widely available here...I mean, I've never even seen a tigernut. This horchata will be a bit thicker than normal to allow for adding ice which will melt and dilute the flavor--and sweet, but just sweet enough so it's refreshing, although you can make it a bit thinner and sweeter than you want the finished product to be.

by Christina Terriquez

1 cup organic long grain brown rice, rinsed
1 cup organic blanched raw almonds or raw pumpkin seeds
6 cups spring or filtered water, or more
1 whole cinnamon stick
1/2 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract, alcohol-free variety
2–4 tablespoons organic agave nectar, or other sweetener, or more to taste
ice or water, if desired

Combine the rice and almonds 2 cups water and let soak 4 hours or overnight.

Pour into a blender. Add cinnamon stick and vanilla bean now, if using. Process until the rice is finely pulverized. Add the remaining water, agave nectar and vanilla extract. Strain through double or triple layered cheesecloth. Sweeten to taste.

Refrigerate for 2 hours and/or pour over ice. Serve chilled.

Add 1 whole organic cinnamon stick before soaking or 1 teaspoon ground organic cinnamon after

In different regions of Spain, Central America and South America, various seeds and nuts are used. Experiment with substituting sesame seeds, melon seeds or sunflower seeds for the almonds.

Try a 1/4--1/2 teaspoon fresh organic lime zest.

Basmati rice, white basmati, or white long grain rice may also be used.