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Horchata Recipe From Authentic Mexican Cookbook

Yesterday we praised the 1987 cookbook Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico by Rick Bayless and Deann Groen Bayless. At the end of the exciting column, we promised a recipe for horchata from its pages. It follows this preface about the beverage:

"This recipe is based on the version served at the nationally famous Casilda's aguas frescas stand in Oaxaca, where the crushed pulp of the tiny cactus fruit (jiotilla) is often stirred in to make the liquid pink. Their version relies in good part on the almonds to give it richness and body. I was forewarned that only hand-grinding on the metate would make it good; that's close to the truth, but I did finally come up with a blenderized version that works. This drink is light but rich - - exceptionally good hot-weather party fare, poured over ice."

Yield: About 1 1/2 quarts, 6 to 7 servings

6 tablespoons rice
6 ounces (about 1 1/4 cups) blanched almonds
1 inch cinnamon stick
Three 2-inch strips of lime zest (colored rind only), 3/4 inch wide
About 1 cup sugar

1. Soaking the rice and almonds.

pulverize the rice in a blender or spice grinder. Transfer to a

medium-size bowl and add the almonds, cinnamon stick and lime zest.

Stir in 2 1/4 cups of hot tap water, cover and let stand at least 6

hours or, preferably, overnight.

2. Blending and straining.

the mixture into the blender jar and blend for 3 or 4 minutes, until it

no longer feels very gritty. Add 2 cups of water, then blend for a few

seconds more. Set a large sieve over a mixing bowl and line with 3

layers of dampened cheesecloth. Pour in the almond-rice mixture a

little at a time, gently stirring to help the liquid passs through.

When all has been strained, gather up the corners of the cheesecloth

and twist them together to trap the dregs inside. Squeeze the package

firmly to expel all the remaining liquid.

3.Finishing the horchata.

2 cups of water and stir in enough sugar to sweeten the drink to your

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taste. If the consistency is too thick, add additional water. Cover and

refrigerate until you're ready to serve. Stir before pouring.

This will keep for five days or more in the fridge.
Optional tip: Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup light or golden rum to finished drink.

Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico
Rick Bayless with Deann Groen Bayless.
384 pages
Jacket design by Elizabeth F. Slott
Jacket painting: Mujer con Pescados by Francisco Zuniga.
Published by William Morrow & Company, Inc.

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