It's time to say ¡Adios y Gracias, Rick! to Rick Bayless as I Heart Cooking Clubs switches to our new chef Madhur Jaffrey next week. I am saluting Rick with a tall glass of Horchata de Almendra--Creamy Almond Rice Cooler. This recipe has been on my list to make/try for ages so it seemed like a great way to end six months of cooking some delicious Mexican (well mostly Mexican) dishes. Bayless calls this drink "the Coke of Mexican street stalls" due to its popularity. I call it cool and refreshing.
Creamy Almond-Rice Cooler (Horchata de Almendra)
Adapted from Fiesta at Rick's, Rick Bayless
(Makes about 1 1/2 quarts--about 6 or 7 12-Ounce Glasses with Ice)
6 Tbsp raw white rice
6 oz (about 1 1/4 cups) blanched almonds
2-inch cinnamon stick, preferably Mexican canela
1 cup milk or canned evaporated milk (I used coconut milk)
2/3 to 3/4 cup sugar (I used agave to taste--about 3 Tbsp)
ice cubes (you'll need about 2 cups--smaller ones are best)
Soak the rice and the almonds:
In a medium-size bowl, combine the rice, almonds and
Stir in 2 1/2 cups water, cover and let stand at least 8 hours or, preferably, overnight.
Blend and strain: Scrape the mixture into a blender jar and blend for several minutes,
until a drop rubbed between your fingers no longer feels very gritty. (If you have access to a high-speed Vitamix blender, you'll get the smoothest results.) Add 2 cups of water, then blend
for another minute. Set a medium mesh strainer over a mixing bowl and line it with two layers of dampened cheesecloth. A cup or so at a time, pour in the almond-rice mixture, gently stirring to help the liquid pass through. (Or, easier, pour it all into the strainer and let gravity pull it through, about 20 minutes.) When the liquid has passed through, gather up the corners of the cheesecloth and twist them
together to trap the dregs inside. Squeeze the package firmly to expel
all remaining liquid.
Finish the Horchata: Add 1 1/2 cups of water and the milk. Stir in enough sugar to sweeten the drink to
your taste. If the consistency seems thicker than whole milk, stir in additional water. Cover
and refrigerate until you're ready to serve. Pour over ice in tall glasses, stirring before pouring.
The agua de horchata can be made several days ahead, tightly covered and refrigerated.
Notes/Results: I was worried the texture would be too powdery for me but it actually works--especially ice cold. The almond flavor comes through nicely and I added extra cinnamon, including a sprinkle on top. I used agave in place of sugar and made it dairy-free with unsweetened coconut milk so it was still thick and creamy. Can't wait to make this into the Coconut Horchata Colada and Horchata-Banana Daiquiri recipes Bayless has in the book, but it is plenty good on its own too. I will make this again.
It's going to be tough not cooking with Rick Bayless every week--we had a great run. ;-) I actually didn't find a dish I tried that I didn't enjoy. Here are my Top 5 (+ 1 extra) Favorite Rick Bayless Recipes from the past 6 months. The dishes that I loved, craved for days afterward and will most definitely make again:
Zucchini with Roasted Peppers, Corn, and (Cashew) Cream: I was surprised just how much I loved this creamy comforting recipe but it was so good that I practically licked the container after scraping the last bits of my leftovers out of it. Very rich and delicious.
(Opah & Ahi) Ceviche Salad with Avocado, Cilantro and Green Chile: One of the best and most unique ceviches I have tried. With all that lovely avocado it is light but so creamy and good.
Rick's Lime-Cilantro Dressing (Aderezo de Limon y Cilantro) has become my go-to salad dressing. It is tangy and herby and goes on everything--but drizzled on this salad I tossed together with blueberries, avocado, radishes and goat cheese it made an over-the-top dinner.
Tangy Green Guacamole with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa: The homemade Tomatillo Salsa with Serranos, Roasted Onion and Cilantro was excellent to scoop up on its own, blended into guacamole it was positively ADDICTING.
Classic Mexican Rice Pudding with Cinnamon and Dried Fruit: Full of dried pineapple and papaya and drizzled with homemade Mexican Raw Sugar Syrup, this velvety (but slightly chewy in a good way when made with brown rice) pudding was a delight.
Great Tortilla Soup: OK,
I can't say that this was the best tortilla soup I have ever made or
eaten but, it is super simple and full of flavor and I love how cool it turned
out with the fun tortilla shapes (if I do say so myself) ;-) so it wins
an honorable mention on appearance points.