It’s a rainy Friday night in LA. This is good and bad. Bad because everyone forgets how to drive making traffic even more ridiculous than usual. Bad because where will the homeless sleep tonight? I always wonder this. It’s good too though. The rain quiets the city, especially at night. I love this weather, and relish in the novelty of the visiting showers. When I was a little girl, it was nights like these when my mom would make my sister and I Mexican Hot Chocolate served with Mexican sweet bread for dipping- a treat I enjoy infrequently today but recall with great affection. And sometimes on special occasion rainy nights, mom would make a latino style warm rice pudding dessert called arroz con leche. I should share that my mother is Colombian so the Mexican Hot Chocolate was from a package (usually Abuelita brand) and the Mexican bread was bought at the neighborhood corner store, but her arroz con leche was all hers and is still as comforting and delicious today as it was when I was eight years old and less carb conscious.
Given that this dark grey weather has me reminiscing about mom’s arroz con leche, I called her to ask for the recipe. The conversation went like this (translated to English just for you):
Me: Hi Mom, can I have your recipe for arroz con leche?
Mom: (long hesitant pause) Mmmmm. Why?
Me: Um, cuz I want to make it.
Mom: (long pause) Oh. (crickets)
Me: Hello? (giggle) Um, is the recipe top-secret or something?
Mom: No- it’s just…. it’s not good for you. It has a lot of sugar and rice. Andreita, should you be eating that? I mean you don’t want to gain weight, right?
Me: Right. Ok thanks for your help mom. Bye.
Sigh. Welcome to my world. So I do the next best thing. I call my sister Sarah. Mom has a clear preference for her as she is the first-born, smarter and more useful of her two daughters. Anyway, mom never withholds anything from her, especially a little family recipe and I’m almost positive she has it. On the phone with Sarah I tell her the story. She laughs, tells me to get a pen and shares this recipe (told you mom would give it her):
Rainy Day Arroz Con Leche
1 – cup of long grain rice
2 – sticks of cinnamon
1- 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk (Carnation)
1- 12 oz can of evaporated milk (Carnation)
1- cup of milk (half & half or whole is best but any milk you have will do)
1- tbsp of vanilla extract
3/4 cups of raisins (optional)
Cook the rice with 1 cinnamon stick in water like you normally would (I use a rice cooker). When rice is done, remove the cinnamon stick and transfer the rice to a sauce pan (I have to do this because I use a rice cooker, but if you cooked your rice in a pot/sauce pan, you’re good, just take out the cinnamon stick). Stir in all the milk over medium heat until it comes to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer. Add the vanilla and the other cinnamon stick and stir constantly so that the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom for about 20 minutes. The consistency will become thicker. Add the raisins. Serve sprinkled with cinnamon. *For a twist, you can substitute coconut milk for the evaporated milk and add some shaved coconut to the rice when you serve it.
Comfort food Colombian style. Stay warm tonight friends, and enjoy! Besos. xo Dre
p.s. photo of arroz con leche found here