It was midday, we four were all hot and hungry on a long drive back from a camping trip. Happily, lunchtime put us in Pasco, a city just on the Washington state side of the Columbia River.
I had one thought and one thought only: tacos.
While most roadways don’t offer up much but the usual fast food options, Pasco is 55% Hispanic. In other words, dropping in for lunch feels like visiting Mexico. And that means a wide array of food options–good options from chicken rotisseries to taco trucks to full-service restaurants.
We pulled into a stand-by taco stand. Bright yellow walls, five tables, counter service and a television blaring a Mexican soap opera.
“Dos tacos de carne asada,” I said to one of the two women cooks.
“Para llevar?” she asked. “To go?”
Nope. It was time to be out of the car, out of the sun, so we sat in the bustle and the noise from the TV. (“Bad acting translates into every language,” said Benjamin.)
I didn’t care. I was already stealing sips of Cece’s horchata–the sweetened rice milk drink that refreshes better than lemonade or beer.
When I got home, it was the taste of the horchata, not the tacos (though they were yummy) I couldn’t stop thinking about.
I figured that I could make it less sweet, more creamy and even–why yes–turn it into a smoothie for a summer day at home.
Here’s my horchata smoothie recipe for you–to go.
Start this the night before you want to serve it. The cinnamon is everything in this recipe, so use real cinnamon--even freshly ground--for the best flavor. For a cheat, you can use commercial rice milk in place of the homemade; it will not have that authentic rice taste with a bit of grit, but it's still wonderful.
- 2 cups uncooked long grain white rice
- 4 cups water
- 1/2 cup granulated cane sugar organic
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch nutmeg
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 8-10 ice cubes for blending
Rinse the rice in a colander. Combine the rice with the water in a blender and refrigerate overnight, or for 8-10 hours.
Line the colander with cheesecloth and set over a bowl. Blend the rice-water mixture for 1-2 minutes until the rice is finely ground. Pour into the colander and let drain. Discard the rice and cheesecloth.
Rinse out the blender well and pour the rice water into the blender. Add the sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and yogurt. Blend well and taste. Adjust the sweetness or the spices to your liking.
Add the ice cubes and blend on high speed until very smooth. Pour into a pitcher and keep chilled until ready to serve. The mixture will separate, so give it a stir before serving.