AGUA FRESCA: Easy Horchata

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked for an horchata recipe since I began blogging. But each time I start explaining how to make it from scratch, I can see people start to lose interest around the time I mention that making horchata from scratch involves soaking rice and cinnamon sticks overnight and then grinding it and straining it. When I make it from scratch I sometimes also blanche almonds and soak them with the rice for an added depth of flavor. But the average person asking for a recipe always seems to get a frown on their face when they realize making it from scratch takes a little extra time and effort.

It was because of this dilemma of nobody wanting to take the time to soak and grind the rice that I began experimenting in the test kitchen to try to make an acceptable quick recipe substitute for those times when we just need a quick fix of a tall, cool glass of horchata. This is the simplest recipe I came up with that passed the taste test with family and friends. It beats any powdered or pre-made liquid mix I’ve tried from a variety of grocery stores. The store-bought mixes always taste either too sweet or too fake to me. I hope you enjoy this version if you’re looking for a quick but yummy horchata recipe!… 

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CARLOTA DE LIMÓN

Mexican dessert: carlota de limón o postre de limón, known as an ice box cake or a Charlotte in English. Get the recipe on theothersideofthetortilla.com

This past weekend, I was trying to decide what I should bring for dessert to my family’s Easter fiesta. I was considering taking either flan or capirotada, but couldn’t decide so I asked my Twitter amigos what to do. I got just about equal votes for each, including one really funny comment after I referred to our gathering as “Mexi-Rican Easter” since we’ve got some Puerto Rican cousins in my extended family.

Eventually, my friend Nelda suggested I bring a carlota. We debated a bit about the method and the kind of cookie to be used (ladyfingers versus galletas María), but ultimately we decided the best version would include cream cheese. I can’t remember the last time I had a carlota, but I’ll tell you what: It’s making a comeback in my kitchen this spring and summer.

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