August 1st, 2008    •  by Bethia    •   No Comments »

June was horchata month and I hadn’t made it for a few weeks, but I decided it would go well with the zucchini bread. Horchata is a latin american rice based drink. There are a huge number of variations from different countries and regions and the ingredients vary. Some use actual milk. Joe first introduced it to me. I can’t remember now how we first started talking about it, but Joe was very nostalgic for a batch that he had at the infamous and much missed Taco Ninja. (ooo – just remembered. I said that I had seen rice milk on sale at the latin festival, but that I tried the tamarind water instead). We did a lot of research (courtesy of google). My first batch was a disaster – the recipe said to cover it, and I put it in a tupperware and sealed the lid. It fermented and I almost had almond rice beer (not good!) I also used too many almonds, which made my disaster more costly and more upsetting. Several batches later experimenting with the ingredients and trying to find the optimal straining method we like to think that we perfected it. It has a white watery color and a delicate flavor with lime, almond, cinnamon and vanilla. It is really refreshing. 

I now make it directly in the blender and leave the top cracked open (learning from my mistake). 

Joe and Bethia’s Horchata

1 cup/mug of uncooked white rice 
Generous handful of blanched (skinned) almonds  
a few strands of lime zest
a small cinnamon stick
Cold water to cover 

Sugar to taste or simple syrup (I was thinking about trying agave syrup)
Splash of vanilla
More water  

Put the rice, almonds, lime zest and cinnamon in the blender/food processor. Cover with cold water and some extra as the rice will absorb some. Leave it to soak for at least 6 hours or overnight, covered but not sealed. 

Blend (including the cinnamon stick) until you have a liquid. Strain – I find the best method is a sieve lined with a double layer of butter muslin. Add a splash of vanilla and some more cold water. Chill. 

To serve add sugar/syrup and maybe some more water. Basically you are sweetening and diluting to taste. Stir it (however you sieve it you will still get sediment). Serve over ice. 

Note on the almonds. If you don’t have blanched almonds, or can’t be bothered to blanch them yourself, i have made it with the skins on and it worked fine. Blanching them is very simple. Boil the kettle, pour boiling water over the almonds, leave them for a couple of minutes, drain and pop them out of their skins. 

Having got the recipe down, we then experimented with horchata cocktails and popsicles. 

The cocktail of choice so far is “the white mexican’. Horchata and vodka and ice. very simple. I think it needs a splash of amaretto, but have not yet invested in a bottle. There have been several late night group discussions about other liquers that might be a suitable addition. Maybe vanilla vodka? 

If you want to make popsicles, don’t dilute it too much. You need to make it as strong as possible. 

Horchata isn’t very photogenic, so here is a photo of my dinner preparations. I made a red onion and shittake omelette.

Shittake mushrooms and garden herbs

Shittake mushrooms and garden herbs

I found a great recipe resource today. I bought some Ume plum vinegar for a recipe (for pecan cilantro pesto crusted zucchini that I haven’t made yet) and I was looking for other ideas of how to use it. It smells divine – just like the really tart tangy dried apricots that you can get. I am tempted to try drinking it neat. Anyway, Eden Foods the company that imported it has a great website and not only can you buy some unusual ingredients online from them, they also have a lot of recipes (lots of new quinoa recipes) including a lot of japanese recipes. They are based in Michigan and have been in business since 1968 selling whole foods and plant proteins and other ingredients they couldn’t find in regular stores. 

Another great non-food website I found today was www.ecoutlet.co.uk and they have some really good recycled and environmentally friendly products.

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