Cool, spiced Mexican horchata is the ultimate refresher for fall

I used to be a travel writer, and one of the pieces of advice I gave and followed the most was to pay attention to shoulder season. London in early April? Cape Cod in October? Yes and yes.

How does this relate to cooking, you ask? (You mean you don’t just want my random anecdotes?) It can be just as helpful to think about the shoulder seasons of food, too. You know, light soups in late summer or very early fall, roasted asparagus at the cusp of spring.

My new favorite example is horchata. The rice-and-milk beverage from Mexico will quench anyone’s thirst on a hot day, but right now for me, it’s ideal for that blurred area between summer and fall. Kind of like a short-sleeve sweater, as one of my tasters said. Cold and sweet is perfect for those toasty September afternoons we’re still having, while the more substantial texture created when rice is ground into milk with cinnamon and vanilla hints at the headily spiced fall and winter days to come.

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Pati Jinich, one of my go-to recipe sources, calls the drink “super refreshing and sweet.” The chef, cookbook author and TV personality (the new season of her public television series, “Pati’s Mexican Table,” debuts nationwide the week of Oct. 4) says it’s definitely something you can play around with. In Mexico, variations include the addition of almonds and sweetened condensed or evaporated milk. To make it vegan, use your choice of nondairy milk, or try coconut water. If you stick with dairy, whole or low-fat milk is best for creaminess. I halved the amount of water in Jinich’s original recipe, but you can add more (up to 3 cups total), depending on how thin you want the drink. Keep in mind you’ll probably be serving it over ice. The amounts of sugar and vanilla are up for interpretation, as well.

The recipe is a cinch to make, as long as you plan ahead. The dried rice needs to soak for at least 2 hours and up to overnight. The ultimate goal is to grind the rice as finely as possible, ideally to the texture of rice flour, Jinich says. A high-powered blender such as a Vitamix can easily dispatch the whole batch at once and give you …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Lifestyle


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