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Horchata

5 September 2008 No Comment

Julia Child was a childhood icon of mine–I used to watch her cooking show “The French Chef” religiously when I was young, which some would say was a harbinger of things to come. After living many years in Cambridge, Massachusetts, she moved to Santa Barbara, California. She loved to frequent a small taco stand called La Super-Rica Taqueria just a bit further down Highway 101 from Santa Barbara. We’d often stop at Super-Rica on trips between San Diego and San Luis Obispo. When eating Mexican food, I sometimes find it hard to choose between a cold beer and a creamy, icy horchata to wash down a plate of carnitas, but at Super-Rica, the horchata wins hands down. This is our attempt to replicate it.

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Ingredients

  • 1 c. long grain rice
  • 4 c. whole milk
  • ½ c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract or paste (you can buy the vanilla paste at Trader Joe’s, or use the seeds of a vanilla bean and let the bean soak overnight)
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into large pieces (Mexican cinnamon, not Chinese–it’s the brittle kind)

Directions

Place the rice in a bowl with enough hot water to cover by 1 inch. Let the rice sit overnight. Next day, pour off the water and reserve the water. Add enough fresh water to the reserved water to make 1 cup. Place ½ cup of the rice water, ½ the soaked rice, and 2 cups milk in a blender. Blend until rice is all ground up. Do the same with the other half of the ingredients. Strain through 1 layer of cheesecloth. If it seems too thick for your taste, strain through 2 or 3 layers of cheesecloth, as desired. Add sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon stick. It is better if left overnight again to “improve,” as it gets richer in flavor. Serve over ice.

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