In honour of the winter solstice and a 5,125-year cycle in the Mayan calendar wrapping up and starting anew (my youngest sister -not the one across the street- and her family were actually at a the ancient city of Tikal for the sunrise this morning), I made a drink – not a boozy one (although it does have potential) but a Mexican rice-based beverage that tastes like liquid rice pudding, and works as sort of lighter version of eggnog without the thick heaviness. You whiz dry rice in the blender, cover it with water overnight and then strain it to make a ricey base – the whole process took about 5 minutes of actual kitchen counter time, and I’m certain it will be on our regular holiday rotation from now on. It has the consistency of milk, and yes – tastes just like rice pud.
Sorry to have skipped out on documenting the process, but it would have required me to shoot dry, blended rice in the dark – not an ideal scenario. Suffice to say that when you pulse it in the blender it’s not as loud and annoying as you might think, and you’ll wind up with something that resembles coarse white cornmeal. (Don’t try to whiz it the first time with water, as David can attest to.)
Since Christmas is also whizzing up at lightning speed, I’m going to shorten my posts for a week or so. But good news – I’m also going to boost their frequency to daily! (She says with the utmost confidence that she can totally pull it off.) Which I think will work for all of us, because likewise I doubt you have time to sit and read wordy food essays at this time of year either. The exception: Christmas Eve, when I am determined to bake some stollen.
So let’s call it a series – short and sweet. Deal? Because I foresee most immediate postings being of the sweet variety…
Adapted from Paletas, by Fany Gerson, by way of David Lebovitz
2/3 cup white rice
3 cups warm water
1 cinnamon stick
1/2-3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups whole milk or half & half
Ground nutmeg or cinnamon, for serving
In a blender, grind the rice until it has the consistency of very coarse polenta. Pour into a bowl, cover with water, add the cinnamon stick, cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
Remove the cinnamon stick, pour the mixture back into the blender and puree the rice and water really well. Strain the mixture through a sieve lined with cheesecloth, pressing it to extract as much of the rice flavour as possible.
Stir in the sugar and milk, mixing until the sugar is dissolved. Taste, and adjust sweetness, if necessary. Refrigerate until completely chilled. Serve over ice, topped with freshly grated nutmeg or cinnamon. Serves 4-6.