Chef Adrienne Cheatham's Churros and Horchata
We celebrated Cinco de Mayo with a demonstration of the treats on Instagram Live.
Chef Adrienne Cheatham celebrates Cinco de Mayo the way she did growing up in Chicago: with a light agua fresca and fried dough.
You get to know other cultures through food," she explained on an Instagram Live while demonstrating the treats. "Mexican cuisine is so regional and so varied. The south side of Chicago is known for being an African American community, but there's a huge Mexican population."
Her neighbors made their light, refreshing, water-based agua frescas with simple white rice. "It's a beverage you make with any cereal grain or nuts," Chef Adrienne said of the original beverage, kunu or tiger milk, from Africa. "When people came to Mexico and mixed with the indigenous culture there, they started using corn and rice. People would smash grains, mix it with water, and let it sit to settle and separate. It's a nutrient-rich beverage without having to chew the fiberous grains."
The perfect pairing? Fried dough made from the traditional pâte à choux used in many French pastries, like eclairs.
"I like churros dipped in chocolate sauce, not filled," Chef Adrienne adds. "The first cultivated chocolate came from Mexico, that's why it's such an integral part of the cuisine and interwoven into the culture."
Celebrate Mexico with the sweet recipes below.
For the coating:
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the batter:
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick), cut into pieces
- 1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Neutral oil for frying
- Place the coating ingredients )sugar and ground cinnamon) in a bowl or container that has a base of 5-7 inches. (I like to use a plastic take-out container with a lid so I can gently shake the finished churros to coat, but turning by hand in a shallow bowl is just fine!) Set aside.
- Pour oil into a medium-sized pot to a depth of about 2 inches (look for an oil with a high smoke point like canola, grapeseed, or rice bran). Heat to 375 F over medium while making the dough.
- Combine the first four batter ingredients in a medium-sized saucepot, and bring to a light boil over medium-high heat. Moving quickly, reduce heat to low, add the flour all at once and stir with a wide silicone spatula or wooden spoon. The dough will form a ball and there will be a light film on the bottom of the pan, keep stirring until the dough is smooth.
- Turn the dough ball out into a mixing bowl and let cool for about 2-3 minutes. Using either a wooden spoon or hand mixer, beat in eggs one at a time, with vanilla until thoroughly combined. At first dough with separate and look clumpy but keep beating, it will come back together.
- Transfer dough to a piping bag fitted with a ¼-½-inch star tip. Squeeze dough through piping bag into hot oil to about 3-inch lengths, and cut dough with clean scissors to separate from the bag. Fry for 3-4 minutes per side, occasionally turning churros to make sure they get golden brown all over.
- Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and drain for about 2 minutes on paper towels to remove excess oil and cool just a bit, then place in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Turn hot churros in sugar mixture until they are well coated all over. Enjoy!
- 1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
- 1/3 cup whole raw almonds (unsalted)
- 2 sticks cinnamon, lightly broken
- 4 cups water, divided in half
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup whole milk (or almond/non-dairy milk)
- Ground cinnamon for dusting
- Combine rice, almonds, and cinnamon sticks in a blender with half (2 cups) of the water. Cover and start on low, increasing speed to high, and blend for about 1 minute or until ingredients have been finely processed. Add remaining water and puree again for another 2 minutes. Pour into a container and refrigerate overnight. (If making to drink the same day, keep rice mixture in a container at room temperature for at least 3-4 hours before next step.)
- Stir rice mixture and strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl, pressing on the solids to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Stir or whisk in vanilla, sugar, and milk until sugar is dissolved. Taste and adjust sugar to your taste. Chill until ready to serve.
- When ready to serve, pour over ice and sprinkle with a pinch of ground cinnamon on top.
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