|Summer coolers--leche merengada and horchata.|
But, in Valencia, beautiful port city in eastern Spain, besides heladerías, you can enjoy some different summer coolers at an horchatería, where horchata and leche merengada, meringue milk, are served.
|Chufas (photo courtesy of La Tienda).|
Tigernuts, also called earth-nuts, are not actually nuts, but the tubers of a kind of sedge (Cyperus esculentus), a plant introduced to the Valencia region, along with rice, by the Moors. Like potatoes, chufas grow underground. After digging, the chufas are washed then dried. The desiccated nuts, about the size of almonds, are hard and dark brown. (Photos of chufas growing in the fields and being processed can be viewed on the web site of Chufa de Valencia http://www.chufadevalencia.org/.)
|Icy-cold horchata, made from chufas.|
The chufas, once soaked and softened, can also be eaten as snack food. They are often sold at ferias, alongside sliced coconut, as street treats. They have a crisp texture, somewhat like raw almonds.
A recipe for preparing horchata appears on the La Tienda website, where you can order the authentic chufas, imported from Valencia.
Horchata is served icy-cold as a drink; partially frozen and blended, as granizado, slushy ice, or soft-frozen as ice “cream”.
The other Valencian cooler is not nearly as exotic as horchata, yet still has the inimitable Spanish flavors of cinnamon and lemon. Leche merengada, or meringue milk ice, like horchata, can be served as a cold drink or soft-frozen. In restaurants, I have tasted rich versions of leche merengada, in which the milk is reduced by half, then enriched with cream. But, it’s delicious without the enrichments.
|Soft-frozen meringue milk ice.|
My original recipe for meringue milk (in MY KITCHEN IN SPAIN, the book) calls for 1 cup of sugar. Today, that seems much too sweet to me. I suggest you start with ¾ cup sugar, then taste the sweetened milk and add more sugar if you want a really sweet version.
This recipe contains uncooked egg whites. If raw eggs are a possible health hazard in your area, use pasteurized egg whites.
4 cups milk
¾ cup sugar
Peel from 2 lemons
2-inch cinnamon stick
3 egg whites
½ teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Put the milk, sugar, lemon peel, cinnamon stick and clove in a pan. Simmer, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Strain the milk into a metal bowl. Chill the milk.
Place the milk in the freezer until it is soft-frozen. Stir it occasionally to mix the frozen and liquid milk.
Beat the egg whites on high speed until they hold stiff peaks. Beat in the lemon juice.
Beat the soft-frozen milk at high speed until smooth. On low speed, beat in half of the egg whites. Fold in remaining egg whites by hand, mixing thoroughly.
Serve the ice meringue milk immediately or return it to the freezer to freeze slightly longer. It should be the consistency of soft-freeze ice cream. If allowed to hard-freeze, remove it from the freezer about 40 minutes before serving, so it begins to thaw.
Spoon the milk ice into goblets and sprinkle each with cinnamon.