February 26, 2008

Arroz con Leche-Argentina’s Ultimate Comfort Food

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Argentinos have a wonderful word for nagging someone:  the verb regañar, which translates literally as to scold, but encompasses nagging, scolding, rebuking, growling, grumbling and reprimanding.   I get any and all of these from my husband on certain occasions, but never without a good reason.

In Argentina, you will likely be regañado if you do things that will cause you to get a cold, such as walk on a tile floor without slippers, let your wet hair air dry, or sit in direct sunlight.  (Yes, you read that correctly, sun-worshippers!) Guilty, guilty, and guilty as charged, your honor!  Especially the last one, which my father-in-law, Carlos, is forever scolding me about.   (He never scolds me directly, though, he always says to someone else: "Tell Her she’s going to catch a cold if she sits in the sun like that!" And shakes his head in frustration when I laugh and refuse to sit in the shade.)

Yes, I am a shameless lover of sitting in the sun, and I don’t care who knows it!  I haven’t ever been much of a tanner, per se, but I do love to catch afternoon rays on my skin, listening to the birds and neighborhood dogs barking…especially after suffering through a long American winter, Argentina’s late summer sunlight is the most heavenly thing imaginable! 

It must have been that unseasonably warm day we had here in Denver last week that did me in.  Brazen as I am, I tempted the fates and went on a walk in the park, and SAT IN DIRECT SUNLIGHT!!

And then I got a cold.

My father-in-law was right.

(Of course, it could also be attributed to the fact that the crud has been going around…) I’ve spent the majority of the last week snuffling in bed. 

When I’m sick, like most people, I cling to the foods that offer me the most comfort.  Arroz con Leche is one of them.  Rice Pudding, as we say it in English, is loved by people in every Latin culture, and each one has their own twist with the same basic end result-sweet, warm, milky rice that comforts with each creamy bite. 

One thing I like about this recipe is that you can add things to vary the taste somewhat according to your taste or what you have available.  Some additions might include: soaking the raisins in a couple tablespoons of brandy, cognac, or rum; adding vanilla extract; adding lemon or orange zest; a change in the type of sugar used (brown sugar or even maple syrup may be a nice variation);  nutmeg or the amount of cinnamon used-each of these ideas allows the maker his or her own creative twist.

What comfort foods do you crave when you’re sick?  I’d love to know-please share your favorites!

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                                                             Receta por Arroz con Leche

                                                                        Rice Pudding Recipe

This recipe is a very basic and easy one-perfect for when you’re under the weather and don’t want to put in too much effort! Can easily be doubled, this recipe serves 4.

3 cups milk

1 teaspoon butter

1 cup rice

1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 raisins, re-hydrated in water

Bring milk to a boil and add rice and butter.  Stir to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom.  Lower the heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes or so, until the rice has absorbed almost all of the liquid and is cooked through.  The rice should be well-cooked, not al dente.  Stir in the egg yolk, sugar, and heavy cream and stir well to combine.  Stir in the raisins and cinnamon. 

6 Responses to “Arroz con Leche-Argentina’s Ultimate Comfort Food”

  1. This looks wonderful, and it’s absolutely my DH’s favorite comfort food. I’ll have to make this – I don’t often find a recipe for truly creamy rice pudding.
    My fave sick comfort foods are chicken noodle soup, grilled cheese and vanilla pudding (cooked – not instant). I’m afraid that I prefer the boxed pudding when I’m sick – my homemade stuff just isn’t right at that time.
    Feel better!

  2. Aw, I hope you’re feeling better! That cold/flu stuff sucks. Big time.
    My comfort foods are alot of Mexican-American dishes, like what I had when I was a kid, but my “sick foods” are chicken noodle soup and toast-and-applesauce. That’s what I’ve been living on the past few days- plain, white toast and cinnamon applesauce!

  3. Depending upon just how sick I am, my comfort foods are chicken soup, very spicy Asian noodles, and chocolate ice cream — which I save for those days when I’m sure it will be my last meal on Earth. Of course, I want all of those things delivered to me, in bed, so I don’t have to lift a finger!

  4. Love learning new words! I do believe you would catch me regañado in many ways – plants in the room I sleep, windows open where I am sitting. On and on. These always make me laugh! And then I fall for them and believe them. Ha!
    Arroz con leche es uno de mis comidas favoritas aqui en Peru. Me encanta comerlo para postre y para desayuno. Que rico!!! De repente lo preparo hoy?

  5. LOL! So, your F-I-L was right, huh? 😉
    My comfort food is plantain. Love it.
    I just made rice pudding for cupcakes that I just made. I like your recipe and will have to try it soon.
    Continue to feel better.
    Big hug,
    Paz

  6. thanks for the great recipes…however, one of my favorite memories from Argentina ,as a little girl, was eating torta de ojaldre (I don’t think I spelled that right at all!!) in my grandmother’s house, of course she bought it from their fantastic bakeries. If you can find the recipe I would be so grateful….thanks so much Oh, I forgot this cake has like a filo dough in between the cake layers with dulce de leche on the filo dought then the cake layer on top….etc. so goooood!!!!!!!!!!

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