Recently, while browsing in a nearby bookshop, I came across an interesting cookbook titled "Street Food Chicago" by Chef Mike Baruch. I added it to my list of interesting looking books, and promptly came home to try and request it from the library. Luckily, they had it! And there was no wait for it!! So, two days later, I decided to sit down and page through it.
Now, I have been a Chicago person since I was a child. My grandparents and most of my dad's side lived in Chicago, so we would visit several times a year. I've always been interested in the city (well aside from the whole driving in Chicago thing..THAT sucks.) so that is probably what drew me to this cookbook to begin with.
I guess I was expecting a cookbook filled only with recipes for variations on Chicago-Style hot dogs, or perhaps Italian beef recipes to recreate the experience of dining at Superdawg or Roma's in your own home. Boy, was I wrong! Well, I guess half wrong, as you can find recipes for both of these things in the book, but it is so much more than stereotypical Chicago food!
The book contains an excellent smorgasbord of recipes from the many different cultures found within Chicago, including Mexican, Indian, Asian, Italian, African, Middle Eastern, and Caribbean. It also covers common sandwiches, hot dogs, and the like. This is a VERY comprehensive cookbook that would be a great addition to any kitchen.
While I have numerous recipes bookmarked to try in this book, I decided to start with a favorite of Matt's (which has also become a favorite of mine). When we eat at Mexican restaurants near our house, Matt likes to order a delicious tasting drink called Horchata. Horchata is a delicious drink that tastes of almond and cinnamon, with almost a milky consistency. The flavor kind of puts me in mind of iced chai. It also contains rice, a bit of sugar, and water. Pretty basic but really delicious!
I've wanted to try making it at home since we tried a rum based liqueur called Rumchata (some of the best stuff on earth, you should give it a try!). It so happened that the Chicago Street Food book contained a recipe for horchata!! A match made in heaven.
Making the horchata wasn't too bad of a process, although you do need to let the ingredients sit overnight, blend them together, and then strain. If you've got time this summer and would like a delicious and refreshing drink to go with your Mexican dinner, give this one a shot!!
*Please note that this recipe makes 1 quart. The recipe sounded like quite a process, so I doubled it to avoid being disappointed that we didn't have more!
-1 cup raw rice
-1/2 cup slivered almonds
-2 small Mexican cinnamon sticks
-1 quart warm water (aka 4 cups)
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract (since we doubled the recipe, I did 1/2 teaspoon of each)
Put rice in a strainer (fine mesh) and rinse for 1 minute under cold water. In large mixing bowl, combine rice, almonds, cinnamon, and warm water. Cover and let soak in refrigerator overnight.
The next day, ladle out 2 cups of the liquid and set aside. Carefully pour everything else in the large mixing bowl into a blender and puree until smooth (there will be little bits of rice/almonds/etc... this is normal).
Pour puree back into the large bowl, then add the 2 cups reserved liquid, sugar, and extract. Whisk until well blended.
Strain ingredients through fine mesh strainer (we used our regular strainer with some cheesecloth lining it), then pour into a pitcher and refrigerate overnight.
Serve chilled over ice.