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discovering horchata, with french toast

January 28th, 2011 | 10 Comments »

Sometimes all it takes for me to leap into a new recipe idea is something completely random that I either read or hear. It makes my culinary brain start spinning, usually because it’s a food item I’ve never heard of and have no clue as to what it is. I am nothing without my near obsessive need to understand all aspects of food, and when faced with this empty space in my food dictionary, I am unable to resist the urge to learn, to know more and to understand.

Take Horchata, for example. I’d never heard of it before seeing one brief mention of it from someone on Twitter, along with the question of how it could possibly create a stunning French Toast, and I basically leapt into researching it like I’d been shot from a rocket. Strange, I know, but my brain likes to evolve; I’m not content to rest on any kind of laurels with my quest to find out as much as I can about the cuisines of the world. Horchata, for those uninitiated, is a cool and refreshing drink, usually a type of aqua fresca, served traditionally with Mexican style meals. It’s light, creamy and easily pairs with most any foods, especially dishes with a lot of spice and heat. It’s not, however, made with milk so it’s a lovely dairy free beverage.

The standard Horchata recipe combines ground rice and almonds with water, lime juice and zest and cinnamon. This mixture is saturated with water and allowed to stand overnight, then it’s drained, resulting in a delicious liquid that you sweeten with either white or brown sugar. I wasn’t at all certain how it would taste, but my first sip dashed away any doubt; this was stellar, and here I was enjoying it zealously during some of the coldest days of our Minnesota winter. For a hot summer day, I would imagine this is a perfect accompaniment to a sultry afternoon, and I look forward to the day that I can test that theory. For now, I’ll settle with it being the base to the best tasting french toast that’s crossed my kitchen counters in a long, long time.

French toast is really not that interesting of a dish. There’s a creamy custard that you dip slices of bread into, which are then cooked on a hot skillet, doused with syrup, spread with jam or maybe sprinkled with powdered sugar. It’s simple and basic, and really, the bread you use can make or break the final result. But overall, there’s little you can do to make the dish leap from it’s ubiquitous nature to something altogether stunning. Unless you start with Horchata as your base.

The Horchata, when made from scratch, only requires forethought to prepare. Most of the work is done as it sits on your counter, marrying the amazing flavors of almond, lime and cinnamon together. Strain it, sweeten it and chill it and you’ve got a pitcher of perfection whenever you need cool refreshment. I looked to the most trusted source for South of the border delights, the never fail Lisa of Homesick Texan, and sure enough, she had a recipe for Horchata that came straight from Rick Bayless. Between those two, there was no way this would disappoint.

And it didn’t. Nutty from the almonds, zesty with lime and lush with light, refreshing flavor, the French Toast was a delight from first bite to last. It needed only a minimal drizzle of maple syrup to make it perfect. Make up a big batch if you can; the flavor sustains itself in your refrigerator, making it perfect to have on hand for a delicious and quick breakfast.


2/3 cup of uncooked rice
1 1/4 cups of blanched almonds
1 teaspoon of lime juice
Zest from one lime
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup of sugar or brown sugar, depending on how dark you want the drink

In a blender or spice grinder, grind the rice until it’s powdery. Place ground rice, almonds, lime juice, lime zest and the cinnamon stick in a pot and cover with two cups of warm water. Let stand overnight or for eight hours.

After the mixture has soaked, take out the cinnamon stick and pour contents into a blender with two cups of water and blend until smooth. Take a mesh colander that has been double lined with cheesecloth, and over a bowl or pitcher slowly pour the mixture, wringing the cheesecloth to get every last drop out. You should have a milky, smooth liquid at this point. If there are still rice and almond bits floating around, strain it again.

In a pot, heat up one cup of sugar and one cup of water on medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Stir this sugar water into the horchata, along with the vanilla. Add one more cup of water and serve over ice or chilled. Mixture may separate under refrigeration. Just stir to combine.

(From Homesick Texan, and adapted from Rick Bayless)

Horchata French Toast

2 c. prepared Horchata
3 eggs
1 t. ground cinnamon
2 T. natural cane sugar or brown sugar

Whisk custard ingredients in large wide bowl. Heat skillet until a drop of water sizzles and vaporizes on impact. Dip bread into custard and cook until browned on one side; flip over and repeat.

30 of 30, and Arroz Amarillo (Yellow Rice)

November 30th, 2010 | 3 Comments »

The last gasp, Day 30 of NaBloPoMo 2010. Like I said a week or so ago, it was a lot easier than I expected, what with going back and recycling previous posts and recipes. I like bringing back some old favorites, plenty of which none of you have seen before unless you’ve been hanging around here for almost 5 years.

I am looking forward to a few days off, but right around the corner is the Iron Foodie contest entry that I will be preparing, and another big blog milestone is coming up on the heels of that, one I am looking forward to sharing with everyone. I’m kind of excited about it; maybe it won’t be that huge to some, but to me, it’s BIG.

And with that, I leave the 2010 version of National Blog Posting Month with this delicious recipe for Arroz Amarillo, or Yellow Rice, a delicious side dish that goes with just about anything.

Yeah, yeah. Photo… not so great. Recipe? Awesome!!! Color? Gorgeous! Taste? Spectacular.

Arroz Amarillo or Yellow Rice
original recipe- A Cooks Tour of Mexico by Nancy Zaslavsky

This is Kate’s version:

2 T. vegetable oil
1 c. white rice, rinsed and shaken dry
One medium onion, sliced
One Jalapeno pepper, seeded and sliced thin
One poblano pepper, seeded and cut in half
One red pepper, seeded and cut in half
2 cloves garlic, minced
One medium tomato coarsely chopped
Half of a 14-oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 c. chicken stock
1 t. turmeric
2 t. ground cumin
Cilantro leaves

Place poblano and red peppers on foil covered cookie sheet and spray lightly with cooking spray. Broil until skins are charred, watching carefully. Place in bowl and cover with plastic wrap to sweat. Remove skins when cooled and coarsely chop.

Heat oil in deep skillet; add in onion and saute over medium heat until soft and slightly browned, about 5-8 minutes. Add in garlic and jalapeno and cook for about a minute, until fragrant. Remove vegetables from heat and add a tablespoon of oil to pan. Stir in rice and coat with oil. Cook, stirring continually until rice is nutty, browned and fragrant, about 8-10 minutes. Do not allow to scorch. Stir turmeric and cumin into hot stock until dissolved. Add vegetables back to pan, stir to combine, then add stock. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Add tomatoes to pan, cover and allow to simmer until nearly all the liquid is absorbed. Stir in beans, roasted peppers and a handful of cilantro leaves. Cover and cook for about 5 more minutes. Serve with lime wedges and pimento stuffed green olives if desired.

Yay!! I finished!! 30 posts in 30 days!!

Curried Vegetables with Yellow Daal & Coconut Rice

May 11th, 2007 | 2 Comments »


Curried Vegetables with Yellow Daal and Coconut Rice

For the Daal:
1 ½ c. either red lentils or yellow split peas
4-5 c. water

Use 4 c. water for lentils; 5 for split peas. Rinse legumes well. Place legumes and water in heavy pot, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, until legumes are tender. Puree in batches in food processor with cooking water, adding more if necessary for smoothness. Daal will thicken upon standing.

Curried Vegetables:
Vegetable oil or ghee
1 chopped onion
2 red peppers, cored and diced
½ head cauliflower, broken into florets
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
5-6 oz. fresh spinach
2 T. fresh grated ginger root
1 T. mild curry powder
1 t. ground cumin
1 ½ c. water or vegetable broth
Juice of half a fresh lemon
Salt to taste

In a deep skillet, heat oil or ghee and add onions, cook until soft and translucent. Add peppers, cook until soft. Stir in cauliflower, curry powder and cumin. Stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in sweet potatoes and grated ginger. Stir to combine. Pour in water, stir to incorporate and bring to a boil. Cover and cook until cauliflower and potato are fork tender but still firm. De-stem and coarse chop spinach. When vegetables are tender, stir in spinach and lemon juice. Simmer to wilt spinach then serve immediately with the Daal and Coconut Rice.

Coconut Rice
1 ½ c. water
1 c. basmati rice
½ c. coconut milk
½ t. turmeric
¼ t. kosher salt
1 cinnamon stick
¼ c. currants or golden raisins

In a saucepan with a tight fitting lid, bring water to a boil. Rinse rice well, and add to boiling water along with all the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and remove cinnamon stick before serving