Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Horchata Fortified: A New Spin on "Rice Milk"

My kitchen table isn't really that dirty. This a yard sale find in need of refinishing!

This past Sunday morning I was absentmindedly watching the Food Network and playing on the computer when a little something piqued my interest: rice milk, more specifically horchata.

Horchata is a sweet rice milk, originating from Mexico; there is a Spanish link but I am not exactly an expert in Mexican food history. What had me truly interested, enough to ignore the host's exuberance on my quiet Sunday morning, was that this horchata had the potential to be a replacement for soy milk. I tend to use goat milk in my cooking so the majority of soy in the children's lives comes from soy milk but it does have me a bit concerned. Bubby (a.k.a. the Boy) won't drink goat milk, unlike his sister who would possibly (and I hope only temporarily) sell her brother for goat milk, that's how much she loves it. If you are unfamiliar with goat milk .. well, let's just say that the muskiness of some goat's cheese isn't for nothing.

My sweet babies are trained to be skeptical of any new food they may encounter and there is nothing cuter than a 2 year old asking, "dis have cow milk in it?". I think I have found success with this horchata: Miss N. (a.k.a. Girly) and my mom were immediate fans, Bubby needed a bit of coaxing and Mr. seems to like it. I am excited about the potential of this recipe: For the first batch I used vanilla and cinnamon to break us into it (I despise wasting food), just in case the texture was off it would still be palatable. I didn't have anything worry about, this is fantastic! There is a slight earthiness from the quinoa and all the starch from the rice lends a beautiful silkiness that I absolutely love about our favourite soy milk.

I wasn't overly worried about timing when I made the original batch because the kiddies were off at their grandparent's for the week-end. As soon as we get through this batch (which won't take long at the current rate!) I plan on tweaking it a little in order to do a stove-top version. The Food Network show I was watching was with a host named Sunny and she prepared her's very quickly on the stove, also, she added peaches for a sweet, spring flavour. I think this recipe is a great base for further experimentation. After all, that's what we're all doing in the kitchen, right? Playing around and experimenting. Now that we're all adults, ignore mom's advice: Play with your food!

The Recipe

1 cup white rice
1 cup quinoa
4.5 cups water (plus and addition 2-3 for later)
3 cinnamon sticks
sugar to taste (I think I used about 1.5 cups)
tablespoon vanilla, if you are so inclined

1. Grind the quinoa and rice into a fine grit. I used our very old and very cheaply made kitchen wizard blender thing and though it smoked and growled at me, it got the job done.

2. In a bowl combine the 4.5 cups water, cinnamon sticks, quinoa and rice. Cover and stick it in the fridge.

3. Find something that will keep you busy for the next day or two, hence the need to adapt this recipe to the stove top!

4. After staring at your fridge for almost two days, remove the bowl. Strain through a metal sieve. The water should be a really creamy white and it is gorgeous! I wanted to drink it but restrained myself: Keep in mind that it is starchy water. Yuck.

5. Blend all the leftover grit of rice and quinoa, get it as mushy as you can.

6. Strain the muck (appetizing!) through your metal sieve and cheesecloth. Squeeze the heck out of it. I put a ceramic cereal bowl on top of the cheesecloth and press down like I have Arnold Schwarzenegger muscles. I'm not sure if you need to be this enthusiastic.

7. Add your sugar and another 2-2.5 cups water. Refrigerate.

I don't know about your family but we spend an atrocious amount of money on soy milk, I am sure it's the equivalent of a family who drinks cow's milk, even though soy rarely goes on sale; nor is it sold at Costco or in bulk. I am really excited at the possibility that we could effectively reduce our reliance on soy milk, the amount of waste it generates (the not being sold in bulk thing is a pain), and the associated health concerns. Before anyone freaks out about soy being healthy: I am fully aware that many of the issues surrounding soy milk comes from it being once of the most genetically modified vegetables on the planet. Scientists have been playing around with soy beans for a very long time. The soy milk our family uses comes from a company that has made a commitment to organic and sustainable practices and our tofu comes from a local farmer and producer (Acadiana Soy!) that has made the same commitment. That being said, soy still sometimes freaks me out and I'd rather err on the side of caution.

Just a note: This is very much gluten-free! Drink up, my gluten-intolerant/allergic friends!


  1. I love horchata (made from tiger nuts) but have since moved on to rice milk. I LOVE it with Tonka beans for flavouring. I, however soaked the rice for a day before I blitzed it.

    Don't throw the mush away, I use mine to make a porridge/cooked pudding which is great as a dessert or for breakfast.I'm glad you've found a great alternative to your Soy(and brown rice works a treat too :-))

  2. Butterfly: I just looked up Tonka beans and now I'm going to have to hunt some down!

    It's funny you say that, literally seconds after I threw it in the compost my mom asked me what I planned on doing with the mush. She was shocked I had thrown it out and I quote, "But you don't waste anything!" Errrr... until that moment. I'm excited to play around with my grains, I really want to transform it into a fortified drink. I'm thinking of adding almonds next time. Thank you!