Arroz con leche (Rice Pudding)

I used to sing this folk song to my kids whenever I’d make this for them.

“Arroz con leche
me quiero casar
con una viudita
de la capital”
 

This comes out very creamy even though I use only 1% milk. I sweeten it with raisins and piloncillo, (pea-lon-SEE- yo), which is brown raw sugar, sold in cones in Mexican groceries. If you can’t find that, substitute about 3 tablespoons of brown sugar. I only use a small cone, but if you like yours sweeter, add more. For me, the cinnamon and vanilla is flavorful enough that less sugar is needed.

My mom used to add walnuts to hers, which I thought was fantastic. I’ve had sublime Indian rice pudding with cardamom, coconut milk and pistachio nuts, so I added this option as well. For a vegan version, use all coconut milk.

Serves 6

1 ½ cups cooked rice. Although white rice is traditional, I like the nutty flavor of brown rice. I cook the rice only with water, a teaspoon of butter, and a sprinkle of salt.

3 cups low fat milk or 2 cups milk and 1 cup coconut milk

1 Tb. vanilla extract

1 ½  tsp. cinnamon powder

¼ tsp. cardamom powder (optional)

1 small cone of piloncillo

¼ cup raisins

1/2  cup chopped walnuts, pecans or unsalted pistachios (optional)

1 stick cinnamon to garnish

Heat milk with vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, and piloncillo until it starts to bubble around the edges, but not boil. Stir in  raisins and rice. Heat on low for 30 minutes, stirring often so that a skin doesn’t form. The pudding will thicken as it heats. Add the nuts. Let sit until cool. The longer it sits, the more the milk is absorbed by the rice. You may want to add more milk after it has sat awhile. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

The Chicken Who Flew Across the Mediterranean

This chicken gathered fresh rosemary and oregano from Southern Europe, then flew to the Middle East to pick up the yogurt and spices used to make Musakhkhan, the Palestinian chicken dish. Then it blended all with plenty of garlic, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, fresh thyme, and onion.  It all combines to make a succulent  Mediterranean barbecued chicken.

Serves 4-5 adults

¼ cup lemon juice (fresh-squeezed is best)

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup plain Middle Eastern/Greek style yogurt (I use Karoun brand)

10 cloves garlic, peeled (1/4 cup minced garlic)

1 Tb rosemary needles

2 tea thyme leaves

1 Tb oregano leaves

¼ tsp cardamom

¼ tsp allspice

¼  tsp cloves

2 Tb sumac (available at Middle Eastern grocery stores)

2 teaspoons of salt

10 grinds of black pepper

one onion, chopped

Pour  lemon juice and olive oil into blender, add yogurt, herbs and spices, and blend. (Alternatively, you can mince all the herbs and combine them with the other ingredients by hand.) Pour into marinade container and add chopped onion, mixing well. Remove skin and fat from chicken breasts in with bones intact. Make several cuts into the meat to better absorb the marinade. Leave in marinade for 4 hours or more, the longer the better. Barbecue on medium temperature for 30-40 minutes, until done. You can use this with boneless breasts as well. It is even more tender when cooked in the marinade in a frying pan.