Horchata

Horchata RecipeHorchata is a Mexican specialty drink. It is often referred to as an “agua fresca” or a “fresh water.” These are drinks like tamarindos and the cucumber lime agua fresca which I posted last fall. They are essentially water flavored with fruit or other fresh flavors. I’m flat out cheating with this one. I admit it. The typical recipe calls for soaking rice for several hours or overnight and blending that into a milky substance flavored typically with cinnamon, vanilla, or almonds. I’m using milk and water (though rice milk might be a fun substitute). I’ve used rice flour in place of whole rice, because it seems to make a great deal of sense to me. It saves a step. And the pitcher of horchata is ready to go far more quickly. But, should you want to try a recipe that uses whole rice, take a peek at The Homesick Texan’s (Lisa Fain) recipe. Her recipe is a good example of an horchata that uses not only whole rice, but almonds, as well. Regardless of which you use, however, rice sediment will fall to the bottom of the pitcher as it cools. It needs a good shake before ladling it into a glass.

It has also become common to make horchata using sweetened condensed milk, and though there are certainly applications where I will use sweetened condensed milk, here, I believe it adds too distinctive of a flavor. I prefer making a simple syrup. You should be familiar with making simple syrup anyway, however. It is a refrigerator staple for me during the summer, because it such a handy sweetener for drinks. Dissolving crunchy sugar in cold water is for the birds. Make a big jar of simple syrup and keep it in the refrigerator. You will be ready to make this, or lemonade, of sweet tea, or any number of other great summer drinks.

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Roasted Cranberry Sauce

Ah, Thanksgiving. It is that time of year when I come face to face with the fact that I really don’t like cranberry sauce all that much. In fact, I think it is fair to say that I make cranberry sauce for others, meaning that I never spent much time really tasting it and coming to terms with it. As it turns out, I have a sweet tooth. Nooooo, you say. Yes, I do. And, it appears that this extends to cranberry sauce. So this year, I just kept adding it and adding it, and finally, I like cranberry sauce.

Also adding to my desire for more sugar is the use of the orange zest. Orange zest can be a bit bitter, as it is in orange marmalade. Cranberries are a bit bitter to start with. So, for me, a full ¾ cup brown sugar was necessary to bring it all into harmony. But you should taste and adjust as you like.

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Gingerbread Pancakes

Gingerbread pancakes are easy, fast, and made with pantry staples. Molasses is a pantry staple for you, right?

So if you still have a little Christmas spirit left, but are lacking a grand plan, here is a great Christmas morning breakfast that you can have on the table in 15 minutes. Get out the butter and the real maple syrup because here is breakfast. These aren’t “cake sweet” as is. Thus the syrup.  I always recommend real maple syrup if you have it, too.

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Snickerdoodle Crisp Tart

photo of slice of snickerdoodle crisp tartImagine, if you will, a Snickerdoodle cookie with the topping of an apple crisp. I find that to be a very compelling marriage. My twitter friend, Milisa, of Miss in the Kitchen made Snickerdoodle Bars a few weeks ago that prompted me to get out my apron and bake. Not able to leave well enough alone, I added a crunchy layer on top of the bars and baked them in a 10-inch tart pan. The result was a gooey cookie on the bottom and a crunchy, oat-y, sweet layer on the top. To my surprise, the edges of the cookie baked up and created a crust that worked beautifully for a tart. Visit Milisa’s site for the food, of course. But, also look into her flour sack dish towels. They are very cute and I know some of you that need to have them in your hideaways.

This is sort of a grown up Snickerdoodle. If you want the full-on kid Snickerdoodle, I have a recipe for that, too.

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Apple Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream

photo of apple crisp with ice creamI have my seasons all mixed up. I’m fully aware that I should be posting this in November following a big pot roast or other autumn fare. But, when I want apple crisp, I want apple crisp immediately. So, hundred degree weather be damned.

This is the crisp topping that I’ve been using for years. But I recently modified the filling a bit because of how much I love the heirloom apple pie recipe to which I was introduced by Jon Rowley a few months ago. I do not have any more of his wonderful heirloom apples, but I have applied the other principles here to great effect. Namely, use as many varieties of organic apples that you can and use a touch of apple cider vinegar in the filling. Also, you will notice I have left the peels on my apples and cut them into somewhat large chunks. This gives the crisp other facets of texture and also affects the colors of the filling. You need not leave the peels on if that seems odd to you, but I recommend that you try it one day. I suspect you will love it.

If you want to read more about heirloom apples and the heirloom apple pie, please take time to read The Quintessential American Apple Pie. It is one of my favorite posts, and though someone described it as the War and Peace of pie writing…there is some great information about pie making in there, thanks to Jon.

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