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Did You Try Making: Ana Sofia Palaez’s Arroz con Leche y Agua de Rosas

Issue 03

Countlan Hungry Sofia Issue 03 Recipe

Recipe: Arroz con Leche y Agua de Rosas/Rose Rice Pudding

This is similar to a Persian dessert called sheer berenj, seasoned with cardamom and chopped pistachios.  I’ve included them as optional toppings.

1 cup medium or short grain white rice, well rinsed.
2 cups water
¼ cup dried rosebuds
4 cups of whole milk
Grated zest of one lemon
¾ cups of sugar
¼ teaspoon ground anise
1-2 tablespoons rose water (optional)


Optional Toppings:

Chopped pistachios
Toasted almonds
Roasted chestnuts
Ground cinnamon
Ground cardamon


Wrap dried rosebuds in small square of cheese cloth tightly gathered and tied together with kitchen twine (alternately use a sachet or tea strainer).  Add to large sauce pan with water and rice.  Bring to a high simmer over medium heat.  Stir occasionally until most of the water is evaporated, about 5-8 minutes.

Carefully remove the rosebuds and add the milk and lemon zest.  Return to a high simmer, stirring constantly.  Stir in the sugar.  Reduce heat to medium low.  Watch closely, stirring occasionally so that the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pan.  Continue to cook until the rice is tender, 20-30 minutes.*

When the rice reaches the desired consistency, remove from heat.  Pour into a large mixing or serving bowl and stir in the ground anise and additional rose water if using.  Set aside to cool, serve warm or chilled with toasted nuts, honey, cinnamon or cardamom.

*The arroz con leche will thicken slightly as it cools.  Remove it soon if you prefer a looser pudding.  If it gets too thick, stir in a little more milk at the end to reach the desired consistency.
**If storing for later consumption, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to prevent a skin from forming.


Photo Source: Hungry Sofia

INTERVIEW: Ana Sofia Pelaez, Blogger,  Hungry Sofia

01 What is you blog, Hungry Sophia about?
My name is Ana Sofia Pelaez and my blog, Hungry Sofia, covers a spectrum of Latin American and Caribbean cuisines.  I grew up in Miami where, apart from Cuban food, which I learned from my family, the city’s culinary landscape included an array of food traditions like Argentinean, Brazilian, Peruvian and Colombian cuisine.  Now that I live in Brooklyn, these are the recipes I seek out and recreate in my kitchen.

02 If someone were to visit Brooklyn, what three things should they try food wise?
Brooklyn has incredible food neighborhoods to get lost in.  In Red Hook, there are food vendors who set-up along the ballfields selling pupusastacos al pastor, and agua frescas in the summer.  The Italian restaurants, markets, and butcher shops in Carroll Gardens are amazing – including Lucali which makes near perfect pizza.  I also love hitting the Mexican grocery stores in Sunset Park to stock up on hard to find ingredients and pick up pan dulce from the bakeries.

03 How would you describe your entertaining style?
I love the intimacy of small dinner parties at home where you have time to linger over a meal and have a great conversation.  I try to do as much as possible in advance so I’m not too frazzled when guests arrive.  But still, I can be a little (too) ambitious.  For a weekday dinner or weekend brunch, I’ll keep it small and plan a meal that will keep me at the table with guests and not in the kitchen putting out fires.

04 What are some of your entertaining customs or traditions at home?
I end every meal with a pot of Cuban espresso, beaten with a little bit of sugar to give it a thick layer of caramel and served in the tiny ceramic espresso cups I inherited from my grandmother.  It’s a small but powerful dose.

05 What is significant about arroz con leche?
Arroz con leche is a very traditional, homey dessert.  I like to brighten it with a little bit of rose water.

As winter winds down, I’m literally ravenous for any sign of spring and love cooking with flowers – whether it’s dried rosebuds I find in a nearby Middle Eastern market, lavender from the tea shop, or fresh flowers from the market tossed into a salad.

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If you are just joining us, check out some of our previous “Did You Try Making” posts here, here, and here.

Recipes with Luscious Rice Pudding

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