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HORCHATA WITH CINNAMON AND VANILLA
Horchata: Agua de Arroz y Canela
Serves 6

INGREDIENTS
2 cups long or extra long white rice
3 cups hot water
1 cinnamon stick, (ceylon or true cinnamon, if you can)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
4 cups milk
1 1/4 cup sugar
Ground cinnamon to sprinkle on top, optional

TO PREPARE
Place the rice in a bowl and cover with hot water. Roughly crumble a piece of True cinnamon into the rice mix (Cassia will not let you break it…) and let is all sit and rest anywhere from 2 to 8 hours outside of the refrigerator.

Place half of the rice mixture in the blender with half of the milk and vanilla and blend until smooth, then strain into a pitcher or container (if using Cassia cinnamon, remove it). Place the other half of the rice mixture in the blender with the remaining milk and the sugar, pure until smooth and strain into the same pitcher or container.

Stir well and serve over ice cubes, or place in the refrigerator until it is cold. Serve with more ice cubes to your liking, and sprinkle some ground cinnamon on top if you wish.


AVOCADO AND COCONUT ICE CREAM
Helado de Aguacate y Coco
Serves 6

INGREDIENTS
3 large ripe Hass avocados, about 2 pounds, halved, pitted, pulp scooped out (about 3 cups)
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
3/4 cups sugar, more to taste
1/4 cup dried shredded coconut, lightly toasted, optional for garnish, or toasted almonds, pine nuts or pistachios

TO PREPARE
Cut the avocados in half, remove the pit and scoop the pulp out. Cut the pulp into chunks and place it in the blender or food processor. Add the coconut milk, sugar, and lime juice, and puree until smooth.

Process the avocado-coconut puree in you ice cream maker, or ice cream ball, according to the manufacturers instructions. Place in the freezer for a couple hours for firmer ice cream. If you don’t have an ice cream maker you can serve it as a cold mousse, or you can also freeze it and serve it as ice cream, but it will be a little less fluffy. But its still good!

Lightly toast the shredded coconut on a small saute pan set over medium-low heat, stirring constantly so it does not burn. It will take less than a minute. Once the coconut becomes fragrant and acquires a tan, remove and set aside. Sprinkle over the ice cream.


July 10, 2009

No matter how hard we tried we just couldn’t stay dry.

A single step out of the plane and it all seemed part of a magical realism novel from Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez. In that hot, humid and tropical pueblo, every move was slowed down in a permanent mist, which made my clothes feel damp. Under the open sunny sky, that mist was shiny and full of light as it transformed the colors from the exotic overgrown plants, colorful houses and small streets. There were cute little insects, bees and hummingbirds moving all around. Wide chubby trees offered some shade, as people walked by with no hurry, wearing earth colored hats.

And everything, absolutely everything, was infused with the lusciously sweet aroma of vanilla.

No. I don’t do drugs.

This is a true description of a small town in the region of Totonacapan in the state of Veracruz, where vanilla originated and is still heavily grown. Also where my husband and I were invited to a wedding, more than a decade ago. And it was in that small pueblo, where I tasted the best horchata I have ever tried.

Continue reading We could all use a little Horchata…


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