Before you read this, think about the one dish that you tend to cook when you feel like everything is lost, when your world seems like its ending, and then think about what you usually cook when you feel like celebrating, In my case it’s the same thing, there is indeed one single dish that satisfies the two polar ends of my state of heart. For me that dish is Arroz con leche.
Arroz con Leche or rice with milk was not a dish I grew up eating, in fact the first time I tasted it was the day my father passed away, when an aunt from England came to visit to help us in the mourning period, whatever that might mean, she did indeed help out when she cooked for me this dish, on an early May morning, this dish had warmed my heart then, and still does today. Whenever I go through some shit storm of some kind, this is what I cook and eat usually from the pot, sitting on the floor, somehow it always makes me come back up, it’s my pick me up.
Throughout the years, ten to be exact I have however also cooked it on celebratory days, I cooked it on the first day we moved in our new house , cooked it for my daughter so often and always fed it to her with great joy, although now she can eat it all by herself, Arroz con Leche seems always to make the day even better than it already is, it’s satisfying, warm, creamy and sweet, it’s the perfect food for the soul.
This recipe is adapted from a book called Aphrodite by Isabelle Allende, I use her recipe because it’s both delicious and for the reasoning she puts behind this dish which is very similar to mine, try to buy this wonderful book of recipes and stories, it is indeed one of my favourite that I read at least twice a year.
½ cup rice (Arborio rice),4 cups warm water, 10 cups milk , 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 150g light brown sugar ,2 tablespoon vanilla extract.
- Soak the rice in warm water for 30 minutes, and drain.
- Cook the rice on low heat in the milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon until the rice loses its bite and becomes soft.
That’s it really, maybe the reason I cook this whilst in the midst of desperation is because it’s so simple to make, it required nearly no skill and no concentration, and the simple act of stirring soft rice in a non-stick cast iron pan is therapeutic in its own right.