Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Royal Foodie Joust: Arroz con Leche!

Our friends over at the Leftover Queen hold a "Royal Foodie Joust" every month. It's a virtual Iron Chef sort of thing; the last winner picks three ingredients and to participate each food blogger creates a recipe highlighting the three ingredients, posts the recipe on their blog and crosses their fingers while they await judgment by their fellow food bloggers. Further information, this month's entries and more can be found here.

Now, for this month, we were all given the challenge of using mangoes, cardamom and brown sugar in a recipe. Our first thoughts were of savories - salsas, kebabs and fish. On a rather random night, when it was cold and covered in that San Francisco fog, we had a serious hankering for arroz con leche, rice pudding, a dish that was always available back in New Mexico. We realized that mangoes and brown sugar are both classics in Latin deserts and that cardamom appears in cream based deserts in India and Iran. With a bit of fine tunning and a little help from Rick Bayless' Authentic Mexcan, this version of arroz con leche, was born.

We promise the recipe and some sweet food porn shots after the jump.

Arroz con Leche

What's Guerrilla: Arroz con Leche is a classic, economical way of transforming a starchy staple (rice) into a custardy treat. In this respect, it resembles it's gringo cousin, bread pudding. While both cardamom and mango can be pricey ingredients, this recipe utilizes the smallest amounts possible and brings the fullest flavor to each bite.

What's Gourmet: This is a classic Mexican dessert, enriched with egg yolk and browned a bit like it's other, more distant, gringo cousin, creme brulee. Cardamom is an expensive spice, and this dish highlights the unique spicy flavor, leaving you craving more. The attractive lime zest and dried mango "flower" pattern on top adds a touch of class too.

The Minutiae

This recipe happily serves two insane people, like Schaefer and I. Both servings are, probably overly, generous and satisfying. Yet, you could stretch these same proportions to serve four very gleefully. Another great aspect of this recipe is how easy it is to double, triple or even quadruple, if you wanted. Simply keep this ratio:
1 part rice : 2 parts water : 4 parts milk : 4 (yolks) parts egg
And you'll be good to go!

The Means:

1 cup water
1 cinnamon stick, roughly an inch long
½ tsp unground cardamom
1 inch strip lime zest, ¾ inch wide - colored section only
½ cup of rice- we used jasmine
2 cups milk - we substituted soy milk
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons white or brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 egg yolks
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 ripe mango, chopped into cubes

The Method:

1. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan - we used a 2 quart all-clad saucepan.
2. Once the water has boiled, add the cinnamon stick and lime zest. Cover and simmer on medium heat for five minutes.
3. While the water is boiling, rinse the rice in warm water.
4. Drain the rice and add to the boiling water. Return to a boil, stir once and cook over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. You want all of the liquid to be absorbed, leaving the rice tender but not sticky.
5. While the rice is cooking, grind your cardamom. We used a mortar and pestle, since the amount is so small. You could consider using a coffee grinder if you’re doubling, or tripling, the recipe.
6. Combine your minced mango, ½ of the ground cardamom, and the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Set this mixture aside.
7. Combine your milk, sugar, salt and remaining cardamom and add to the rice mixture.
8. Simmer over medium to low heat until the liquid starts to thicken, stir occasionally to prevent sticking. You don’t want to over cook the rice or milk at this stage, so you should err on the side of caution. Ideally, you’re looking for a thickness similar to steel-cut oatmeal. It should still be soupy, but the milk and the rice should just be starting to grow in size and viscosity.
9. Remove the mixture from heat, and discard the cinnamon stick and lime zest.
10. Beat the egg yolks till creamy, then beat in the vanilla extract. Egg proteins function best when they are tempered, so you’ll want to add a small bit of the hot rice mixture to the yolks to bring everything into sync.

11. Mix the mango, cardamom and sugar you set aside earlier into the rice mixture.
12. Stir the egg yolks and vanilla into the rice mixture.
13. Spoon into small oven proof dishes.
-- At this point, the dish can be saved for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator, how dinner party perfect is that? --
14. Preheat the broiler and dot the pudding with butter.
15. Place the dishes under the heat just long enough to brown the top. In our broiler, this takes about 3-4 minutes, but please keep in mind that broiling times can vary greatly from oven to oven.
16. Allow the pudding a few minutes to cool and and garnish. In our photos, we chose to garnish with a bit of ground cinnamon, and flowers made with julienned lime zest and dehydrated mangos.
17. Serve it up and enjoy!


Kimi said...

Yum, great entry for the joust. I got cold here overnight, I would love this for breakfast!

Tempered Woman said...

Beautiful and creative. This looks incredibly good. I like the 2 serving recipe. Much appreciated in my household. ;-)

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Looks great guys! YUM! I love pudding. Best of luck in the Joust! :)

cookinpanda said...

I've never had anything like this before but it sounds delicious, and I'm in love with glutinous rice based desserts, so I think this one will be pretty delightful as well. I look forward to trying it.