Monday, May 11, 2015

Rice Pudding Guatemalan Style

Cover of Cookbook for my children
I have mentioned in a few posts about making a Guatemalan cookbook / memoir for my children. They were all born in Guatemala during the 1970s, and while the youngest was only 3 years old when we came back to the US to live, Guatemala is a part of their heritage. I figure if I, a midwestern girl, could come to love Guatemala and all its diverse food, fantastic scenery and varied seasons, surely some of this should stay with them, even if they are no longer attached to the country in any real way. 

In making this cookbook, each version I have printed has been just a bit better than the previous. The first I made was exciting, in that I was actually putting all this information into one place. It still had a lot of errors, lousy grammar and very few of my own photos. As I go through with the next child in mind, I change family photos to gear them more to that particular child. Since realizing how very few photos I had ever taken of the foods that I actually had made, I began rectifying this. As of the last child's book printing, I had amassed 80 recipes, and had photos of 40 of them. This job of putting together the book and printing is all done here in my own little home office. I have a binding machine, so I make a nice job of it, if I do say so.

Arroz con Leche
A few days back, I made a tabled list of which foods were already made and had photos taken, and which still needed to be made and have photos taken. Some of the foods are ones I have made in past, but maybe not for over two years, since that is when I started photographing everything I made. Others are foods I have slim chance of ever making properly due to lack of available ingredients. But on my list of needed recipes to photograph was Arroz con Leche, which, translated, just means rice with milk. Not as exciting in English, for sure. Obviously, in all the 45 years since first going to Guatemala, this rice dessert was never interesting enough, to me, to actually make it. I always just made my Mom's Rice Pudding, with tapioca, milk and sugar added to leftover rice. Yesterday, finally, I made Arroz con Leche, and found it is not dissimilar to Mom's Rice Pudding! 

I had assumed (never a good thing) that since there was nothing in this recipe that would thicken the pudding, that it would take a long time cooking and stirring for the milk to thicken. In essence, it took no longer than it takes to make Mom's Rice Pudding with tapioca! The tapioca needs a few minutes cooking to expand and thicken. In the case of Arroz con Leche, which is made with freshly cooked rice, it took about 15 minutes of cooking for it to thicken down. Once cooled, it thickens far more. And so, at last, I have made Arroz con Leche. 

Arroz con Leche, made as Atol beverage

While researching recipes for the cookbook, many were of foods I had tasted, but never had a recipe for. I added a lot of these extras to the book. Atol is another that though I had tried some of the variations (and there are many), had never really written down what I did. An "Atol" is nothing more than a (usually hot) thickened beverage, sort of a pureed soup style. It can be made with almost anything; for example, hominy, sweet corn, rice, plantains, or anything else that will lend itself to pureeing. Just in the making of various plantain dishes, I have on occasion pureed a few pieces into a thick drink. These beverages can be sweetened or not, according to personal taste. Though the beverage is generally pureed, in part, often there are some bits of such things as corn kernels, pumpkin seeds, or other things used as garnish. In some cases, the beverage is left slightly runny, but with more "bits" left in, and a spoon is needed. Arroz con Leche is one of these types of Atol. It can be heated through with the sugar, cinnamon and milk and drunk runny, with rice in it. Yesterday, I photographed Arroz con Leche in both iterations.

Arroz con Leche
Arroz con Leche

about 6 - 8 servings

1 cup plain medium or long-grained rice
2 cups water
1 stick (4-inches) true cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups milk, or part half & half or cream, as desired
1/2 cup raisins, optional

In a medium-large saucepan, cook the rice with the water, cinnamon and salt: bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Milk just added          |          after 15 minutes
Add in the sugar milk and raisins and bring back to boil, stirring, then lower heat to medium-low and stirring constantly (to avoid scorching the milk or milk overflowing), cook until the mixture is thickened to taste. In my case, it took 15 minutes for the milk to thicken down from the photo on the left, to the photo on right. Serve warm with a sprinkling of cinnamon.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.