We’re back from San Francisco, and we have great news. We are finalists in the Alexia Foods “Reinvent a Classic” Challenge! Our Garlic and Herbes de Provence Sweet Potato Fries must have won over the Alexia Foods Research and Development team during the summer contest, and now we are one step closer to possibly seeing our flavor suggestion in stores nationwide. Voting has already begun, and you can cast your ballot here! You can vote as much as you like from today through April, so pretty please let the world know if you would love to see herby French-style sweet potato fries in stores. We’d appreciate it so much. If we win this one, you’re all invited over for a tasting! We’re also hosting a giveaway sponsored by Alexia Foods, that includes an apron, coupons and a copy of Tyler Florence’s Family Meal! But now…let’s get back to the food, shall we?
Chrystal and I have a saying that we utter more than any other. If you follow our Twitter feed, or have spent any length of time with either of us, it’s more than likely you’ve heard the phrase “doing the most” somewhere in the conversation. I’m not sure of the exact origins of this phrase, but it has solidified itself into our everyday vernacular. This expression can be used in almost every context in regards to one’s behavior or actions. The “most” simply refers to overwhelming circumstances or acting in a way that far exceeds the necessity presented by the situation. Well, that is precisely what happened when I ventured to make the popular Mexican drink horchata. If you never thought you could make horchata at home, here’s a recipe to show you that it’s possible.
Horchata is a prominent beverage you’ll find on sale in many Mexican or Latin American eateries and markets. It’s sweetened rice milk flavored with cinnamon and vanilla and served over ice. If in a pinch, you could probably just sweeten and spice commercially-produced rice milk from the carton to create the dairy-free gem that is horchata. Of course, having never made rice milk at home, I had to up the ante and make this Mexican delight from scratch. This is not the first time we’ve featured a homemade dairy-free milk alternative. Making horchata was as easy as the almond milk that popped up on this site not too long ago. At first, I used a wire mesh strainer to remove the liquid from the rice puree. For a first pass, it would have been OK, but it needed another straining. A little cheesecloth in the drawer helped to remove even more of the starch.
Once I had my dreamy horchata in hand, a random thought came to mind: “This would be amazing as a milkshake!” Now, I could have just blended the horchata in some vanilla ice cream (which was in the freezer), but this is where “the most” comes into play. For some reason, it made sense at the time to make horchata ice cream in order to have a proper horchata milkshake. But I couldn’t stop there. After the ice cream was churned and in the freezer, what better way to up the ante one more time than to fry up a few churros. That’s right. I also made churros–a deep-fried Spanish doughnut coated with more cinnamon and sugar. What was supposed to be a simple refreshment, turned into a two day, gluttonous, Mexican-inspired experiment. When everything was ready, I blended the ice cream with horchata and stuck a few churros on top for good measure. It was worth every minute. And every calorie.
Horchata – Serves about 4 (adapted from What’s 4 Eats)
2 cups white rice
1 cinnamon stick
6 cups water, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. In a large pot, soak rice, cinnamon stick and 3 cups of cool water overnight. When ready, process in a blender or food process into a thick paste.
2. Strain through a wire mesh sieve, or cheesecloth, into a large picture, making sure to remove all grit or sediment from the processed rice. Meanwhile, mix together the sugar and cinnamon, set aside.
3. Stir in remaining water, cinnamon sugar mix, and vanilla into the rice milk. Serve chilled over ice.
Horchata Ice Cream – Yields about 1 quart (adapted from Bojon)*
1/2 cup white rice
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup whole milk
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. In a large, flat pan, toast dry rice with the cinnamon stick over medium heat until the rice begins to brown. Remove from heat and stir in milk. Cover pan and set aside for one hour. When ready, drain liquid from rice mixture using a wire mesh strainer or cheese cloth. Reserve and set aside, discarding the cinnamon stick.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl stir together sugar and cinnamon. Beat egg yolks with the sugar and cinnamon mixture until pale yellow and very smooth, about 2-4 minutes. Gently beat in the rice liquid and cream, mixing until well combined.
3. In the same pan used to toast the rice, transfer egg mixture and warm over medium heat until temperature reads 170 degrees on a candy thermometer. The mixture will just begin to bubble around the edges of the pan, but do not let it come to a boil. Stir frequently. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Stir in vanilla extract. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic touches the surface of the custard. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours to overnight.
4. When ready, churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer instructions. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for at least 2 hours to harden as desired.
Churros – Yields about 18 servings (adapted from Rockin’ Robin’s)
1/4 cup sugar, for dusting
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup flour
Oil for frying
1. Prepare a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside. Mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and spread over a second plate. Set aside. Line a third plate with parchment paper and set aside. Beat eggs and vanilla together in another small bowl and set aside as well.
2. In a sauce pan combine water, sugars, salt and butter over medium heat. When the mixture just reaches a boil, remove from heat. Stir to completely melt butter. Set aside.
3. Add flour to a large mixing bowl, or in a stand mixer. Pour hot sugar mixture over the flour and beat until well combined. Add the egg and vanilla, then mix and continue to beat for an additional minute, or just until the eggs are completely incorporated into the dough. Fill a piping bag with dough fitted with a round or star tip. Pipe 4-6 inch strips of dough onto the parchment paper lined plate, using your finger or a butter knife to cut each piece from the piping tip. Gently cover plate with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 15-20 minutes, just to allow the piped pieces to firm.
4. Meanwhile, heat canola or vegetable oil in a large, dutch over or cast-iron skillet to 350 degrees. There should be roughly two inches of oil in the pan. When ready, carefully fry a few pieces of the chilled churro dough in small batches. Cook until each piece is golden brown on all sides, approximately 1-2 minutes. Place on the paper towel lined plate to cool slightly, then roll each piece on the cinnamon and sugar plate to coat evenly. Serve immediately.
*If you are using homemade or commercially produced horchata, omit the rice and cinnamon stick from the recipe. Substitute the cup of milk with one cup of horchata. Add the horchata to the egg mixture, along with the heavy cream. Proceed with the recipe as directed.
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