Arroz con leche (rice pudding) (save this one)

Yield: 8 Servings

Measure Ingredient
2 quarts Whole milk
¾ cup Sugar; (according to taste) (up to 1)
1 cup White rice
7 \N Strips of lemon peel
\N \N Cinnamon and nutmeg; to sprinkle on top
7 \N Cinnamon sticks; (up to 10)

Today's Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul...

Arroz con Leche

I still remember the sweet aroma of cinnamon, sugar, rice and milk filling the rooms of her tiny house. As a small child there was nothing much better than eating a bowl of her hot rice pudding straight from the stove. My brother, sister and I would gobble our first servings then beg for seconds.

Grandmother's laughter would fill the kitchen as she happily refilled our bowls.

Today, relatives on my father's side gather each December in her memory. We lay out a huge spread of traditional family foods, rolls, cheeses, hams, salads, olives and garlic butter. But none taste quite as good as they did when Grandma made them.

As dessert time approaches, everyone whispers, "Did Aunt Juanita make the Arroz con Leche?" Aunt Juanita is the oldest of my grandmother's five daughters and one son. She likes to keep whether or not she has made the rice pudding a mystery - when she feels ready she ceremoniously brings out the Arroz con Leche. She carefully dishes out small portions - making sure everyone gets their fair share. Fortunately, her Arroz con Leche always tastes just the way "Grandma used to make it." Over the years I have come to realize that the secret ingredients my grandmother, Maria Encarnacion Navarro Cortez, always included in everything she made were huge doses of laughter and love. Those are the elements none of us will ever forget.

My brother, sister and I figured out that in order to get bigger portions of Arroz con Leche we needed to learn to make it for ourselves. I know you will appreciate our passion for it as soon as you taste your first spoonful! Here is Aunt Juanita's recipe from Grandma Cortez. It takes time, patience and a lot of love.

1. In a large non-stick pot, heat the whole milk, white rice, lemon peel and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.

Turn down heat to low setting and cook for approximately 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Test a grain of the rice to see if it is almost soft; if not, continue to cook until soft.

2. Stir in sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.

Place over a low setting and cook very slowly for approximately 30 more minutes, stirring often. Cook until thick - not too soupy and not too dry.

3. Transfer to a 2-quart serving bowl. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Allow to cool - it will set like a pudding. Tastes delicious chilled or warm from the stove. Enjoy!

By Rosemarie Cortez from Chicken Soup for the Soul Cookbook Copyright 1996 by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen & Diana von Welanetz Wentworth Posted to EAT-L Digest by cs-text-weekday-reply@... on Mar 07, 1998

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