I found myself with a lot of milk leftover this last week. We usually use up our weekly supply of raw milk from our cow share (from the lovely Nutmeg the Normande cow), but somehow we ended the week with nearly half a gallon of milk in the fridge still. Not wanting to throw it out to make room for the new supply – what a waste of a beautiful product it would have been – I decided to do something about it.
I've been wanting to try my hands at Dulce de Leche – the gloriously sweet, gooey, creamy caramelized milk from Latin America - so this seemed a fortuitous moment. Unfortunately, most Dulce de Leche recipes I googled gave instructions for making "homemade" Dulce de Leche from store-bought canned Condensed Milk. How that became "homemade" I'm not entirely sure. Even my dear friend David L. had his own Sandra Lee moment.
I needed to find one that uses whole milk so I turned to a different source. There is a similar product in French cooking called Confiture de Lait, or simply milk jam in English. There are plenty of Confiture de Lait recipes, calling for different proportion of milk and sugar, some call for using vanilla, or even the addition of rum.
A little confused, I had to figure one out for myself. Many recipes I saw add a whopping 500 grams of sugar to merely a litre of milk – that's only a quarter of a gallon or just four pints. That's just crazy. I didn't want to end up with caramelized sugar with a hint of milk. I wanted to preserve the creamy deliciousness of Nutmeg's milk, so I used only half that amount. I know I'd have to cook it longer to compensate for the missing sugar and to reduce the milk to the proper texture. I also knew I'd add a little salt, not to make it salty but just enough to round out the sweetness.
My experiment turned out beautifully, as you could see in the picture above. I wish you could taste it as well. Oh, wait, you could, you just have to follow to recipe and make it yourself!
The new Michelin Guide for San Francisco is out. Let the critic's critics get to work.
The French Laundry TWO STARS
Chez TJ (new)
Michael Mina ONE STAR Acquerello Ame (new) Auberge du Soleil Bistro Jeanty Boulevard Chez Panisse Coi (new) Cortez (new) Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton, Farmhouse Inn Fifth Floor Fleur de Lys Gary Danko K & L Bistro La Folie La Toque Madrona Manor (new) Martini House (new) Masa's San Francisco One Market (new) Quince Range Redd (new) Rubicon Sushi-Ran Terra
Sometimes a kitchen mishap can turn into a beautiful inspiration, like the other day when I overcooked a Thai dessert. I was making one of my favorite desserts from childhood, a sweet soup with chunks of pumpkins swimming in creamy coconut milk sweetened with palm sugar. The trick of it is to cook the pumpkin pieces just so that they are softened and cooked through, but still remain in tact – true to the Thai name of this dessert, "ordained pumpkin". The orange pumpkin chunks are shrouded in white, hence the name, you see? The overcooked soup - with broken bits of pumpkin tainting the white coconut milk a pretty shade of orange – was still good, but it could no longer be called ordained.
The color of the overdone soup was so pretty however, and the flavor no less delicious, that I thought I could play with this and turn it into something. So I pulled out the stick blender and puree the ingredients into a smooth cream, added a little bit of gelatin, et voila, a brand new dessert. It's a sort of Asian take on the Italian classic Panna Cotta. It retains the traits of Panna Cotta, cooked cream thickened ever so slightly with gelatin, cooled, then unmolded into a quivering mass, a spoonful of which melts into nothingness as it touches the tongue.
This pumpkin-coconut "panna cotta" has nearly the same silky texture, unmolds into just as trembling, quivering mound, but with an added bonus of being dairy free (for your lactose intolerant guests) and could even be vegan if using Agar Agar powder to thicken instead of gelatin. If you didn't want to bother with unmolding it to serve, just pour the warm mixture into old jam jars or small glasses instead of panna cotta molds. When it's cooled enough to set and serve, stick a spoon in it and call it a Pumpkin Pot de Crème.
With Thanksgiving festivities coming up, this dessert could be a delicious alternative for your finicky and dietarily restricted guests.
Poured into a pre-baked gluten free pie crust, cooled in the fridge until set, it will make a gluten free and dairy free pumpkin pie that even the most die hard butter and cream lovers can adore.
Use a vegan pie crust instead, and Agar Agar to thicken in place of gelatin, you've got yourself the smoothest and creamiest vegan pumpkin pie you'll ever have.
I love it when a mistake turns into such pretty, delicious, versatile - if accidental - invention.
Did you hear it on the news about the chilli paste that caused a terror
alert in London yesterday? A Thai restaurant in Soho was preparing Nam
Prik Pao, a chilli paste (or chilli jam) condiment used in Thai cooking.
The process involves deliberately burning the chilli, causing pungent
fume that was mistaken for a chemical attack. The area was evacuated while emergency crew searched for the source. The search ended at a large pot of burning chilli pods.
I know there's hardly anything funny about terror alerts in this day
and age, but you must admit this one is almost hilarious. I can just
picture the Thai kitchen staff whispering amongst themselves – you
think that was our chilli...nyah it couldn't be, it doesn't smell that
bad...oh, wait, could it?
Anyway, I thought the occasion appropriate to post my Nam Prik Pao
recipe. I've been holding out of you people for ages now. Not that
it's a super secret or anything, it's just that when I make it I do it
in such a huge quantity that my recipe wouldn't work for most of you.
I have been meaning to make a small quantity and write up the
recipe but I just haven't got around to it yet, despite the odd email
from people who stumbled onto my old post about the
first time I made it, imploring me for the recipe.
Anyway, I've got a whole bunch of emails yesterday from people who read
the news on BBC (or most likely on Boing Boing), then googled the word
Nam Prik Pao and ended up on my blog. I ran out of my supply a while
ago and needed to make some anyway, so I did, in a small enough quantity this time, for
those of you who don't eat it for breakfast like I do. Here it is.
Try it and let me know how it goes for you.
Yes, Adam's got a new book out, The Amateur Gourmet: how to chop, shop, and table hop like a pro. It's a fun little book that will make even the most jaded foodies wish that they could see the world with his fresh, eager eyes, then join him in a plate of pasta with the simplest tomato sauce and share his unabashed delight in good food.
Adam drops by Chez Pim today to conclude his virtual book tour, and brought not just his book but a slice of his very own coffee cake - ok, Martha's coffee cake, but he made it. He's also got a few reasons why you guys should go and buy his book.
Top Five Reasons Chez Pim Readers Should Buy My Book by Adam Roberts, the The Amateur Gourmet
5. My brilliant recipe for asparagus, potato and cheese Pad Thai.
4. I've eaten at Manresa, and I used the correct fork for every dish (sorry about stabbing you with that pitchfork, Pim.)
3. While I'm not as well-travelled as Pim, I'm much better at "Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?"
2. Remember that guy who plagiarized Pim's restaurant review? I plagiarized my whole book from him.
1. Miss Pim herself appears in the book on pgs. 139 and pg. 142. I hope I don't owe her royalties!
Final reason why you should buy Adam's book: He's a good friend of mine, and I adore him. And so I adore his book too. And I am helping him plug a few books - or better yet, a lot of them. Hey, nepotism makes the world go round!