Sweetened condensed milk: two recipes

Sweetened condensed milk is one of the vastly under-rated wonders of the universe. Cow's milk, reduced in volume by removing some of the water, and with sugar added (both as a preservative, and to create an early type of infant formula), then canned, had many advantages before refrigeration became common. But the processing serendipitously produced a mixture that simplifies making delicious custards. Here are two recipes. Collapse )
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    hungry hungry

Double Serendipity Caramel Sauce

This is a clear, syrupy caramel sauce which goes well on ice cream, cheesecake, plain cake, filled dessert crepes - almost anything you'd want caramel sauce on, although intensely chocolate things tend to overwhelm it. I call it "double serendipity" because of two "mistakes" I made that turned it from a fairly basic caramel syrup into something with a deep, intriguing flavor.

The first mistake was that I put a dollop of Lyle's Golden Syrup(*) in at the beginning. The cookbook I was looking at had two recipes for caramel sauce, a clear one and one made with cream, and they were on facing pages. The recipes started out the same, but the cream sauce called for golden syrup. When I realized my mistake, I figured it wouldn't make any difference in the end, and it would give it more flavor.

The second mistake I made was to cook the first batch too long; when it cooled, it wasn't spoonable. I had to add more water and boil it some more to get the proper consistency. I had added the flavorings at the end of the first cooking process, which is normal, but they got thoroughly boiled when I re-cooked the mixture. The taste was ambrosial! The second time I made it, I cooked it the right amount of time, and added the liquor and vanilla at the end again... and it was just rum-flavored caramel sauce, tasty enough, but nothing special. Somehow adding the flavorings before the final boiling cooks off the raw alcohol taste and makes everything meld together into a uniquely delicious flavor. (And one of these days I'm going to try adding a bit of sea salt.)

1 cup granulated sugar [200 g caster sugar]
1/4 cup [60 ml] water
1 very heaping tablespoonful of Lyle's Golden Syrup(*)
Have ready by the stove:
1 cup [240 ml] very hot water
3 tablespoons [45 ml] dark rum (I use Appleton's Jamaica Rum, which is very flavorful)
1 tablespoon [15 ml] pure vanilla extract

Place the sugar, the smaller amount of water, and the syrup in a heavy saucepan with a capacity of at least 1 quart [1 liter]. Cook and stir over moderately high heat until everything is thoroughly dissolved, then stop stirring and watch it until it turns a deep golden color, but don't let it get too dark or it will start to taste bitter. Remove the pan from the head and slowly and carefully add the larger amonut of water - it will boil up in a great hissing, bubbling fuss. Stir a bit, then add the rum and vanilla, which will probably bubble up a little more. Return the pot to the stove, reduce the heat a little, and stir until everything is dissolved again. Bring it back to the boil and stop stirring. Boil it until it has reduced to 1 cup [240 ml] in volume; I periodically pour it into the heatproof cup I measured the water in, and then pour it back into the pan if it needs to cook more. When it's done, let it cool in the heatproof cup until it's just warm, then pour it into a jar with a lid. Store, covered, at room temperature. (If your room is chilly, after a couple of days the syrup may start to form crystals around the edges; if they bother you, reheat it gently while stirring.)

(*) Lyle's Golden Syrup is a British product that is now found in many US supermarkets. It's "refiner's syrup", the thick, golden, slightly brown-sugar flavored syrup that's left at the end of the sugar-refining process. It not only adds color and flavor, it helps prevent candies and sauces from crystallizing.

Cake, even during a heat wave

It's summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and ridiculously hot in an awful lot of places. You don't want to heat up the kitchen by using the oven, but you've got a craving for cake. Plain spongecake is easy to make; you can bake it in the oven, or you can steam it in a Chinese steamer... and, it turns out, you can even microwave it.

(serves 2 - 4)

You will need a round microwave-safe dish, about 7 to 8 inches (18 to 20 cm) in diameter and at least 3 inches (8 cm) deep - the cake will rise up higher than an oven-baked cake. Butter it lightly, or spray with non-stick cooking spray.

3 "large" eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (*)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

(*) You may substitute 1/2 teaspoon lemon or almond extract, or 1 tablespoon liqueur, or 1/2 teaspoon finely grated citrus peel.

Place the eggs, still in their shells, in a large bowl, and fill the bowl with the hottest possible tap water. Let stand until the eggs are warm to the touch. (This makes them fluffier when you beat them.)

Pour off the water and crack the eggs into the bowl. Add the sugar, salt, and flavoring, then use an electric mixer to beat the mixture until it is pale and very fluffy. Gently fold in the flour, then scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
Microwave on full power for 4 minutes. It won't look done, but it will be; don't overcook this cake, or the texture will resemble balsa wood! Leave the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Slice the cake in half horizontally if you want a layer cake. Frost (and fill) as desired. Make sure the frosting covers the whole surface of the cake, right down to the plate, and once you've served some, cover the cut surfaces tightly with plastic wrap, because spongecake dries out very quickly.


1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tablespoon soft butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Very hot tap water

Stir together the cocoa and confectioner's sugar. Add the butter and vanilla, then very gradually stir in hot water until the mixture is the thickness you want. Spread, spoon, or pour over cooled cake.

Also posted to acelightning
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    hot hot

Cheese Soup

I belong to a group that does a potluck once a month. We have 2 carnivores, 3 omnivores, a celiac sufferer and a vegetarian. Pleasing everyone is a feat, previously only reached with banana breads - one loaf plain, one with raisin, and one with raisins and nuts. This time, I brought bread bowls and cheese soup (bacon on the side). The soup was a huge hit, and I wanted to share the recipe I developed for it.
My usual "go-to" cheese soup is a modified version of Great Lakes Brewery's Stilton Soup, but 1. I had no beer, 2. I had no Stilton, and 3. it uses chicken stock. Looking at the vegan and vegetarian recipes I had showed nothing suitable, so I re-modified my cheese soup recipe to use vegetable stock and the cheeses on hand. It's very forgiving, flavor-wise and ingredient-wise, so sub away.

Mama Mary's Cheese Soup

3 celery stalks
1 large shallot
2 carrots
1 large clove garlic
1/4 lb butter
Seasonings (salt, pepper, whatever)
1/4 cup flour
3 cups vegetable stock
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz sharp Cheddar, shredded
4 oz other cheese*, shredded
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Using a food processor, nearly puree the veggies. In a 4 quart pot, cook the puree in butter until soft and aromatic.** Season the vegetables with salt and pepper and other things*** as desired. Heat 1 cup stock to hot but not boiling. Sprinkle the flour over the veggies, stirring well, while continuing to cook over medium heat until starting to thicken. Add the hot stock in a stream while continuing to stir. Add the rest of the stock and the cream, bring to a simmer, and let simmer for at least a half-hour, but an hour is better, stirring occasionally. [Can be prepared ahead to this point. Refrigerate, and slowly bring back to a simmer.] Just before serving, add the cheese by handfuls, stirring well and letting each handful melt before adding more. Finish with a few grate of fresh nutmeg.
Serve with chopped green onions, bacon, and/or a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche.

*I had a bag of Mexican blend cheeses on hand, so I used that. Any cheese would do.
** This is where the husband sniffs deeply and tells me the house smells like Christmas. I associate Christmas with pine trees and cinnamon, he associates it with the smell of the first step of stuffing-making.
***Chili powder, or rosemary, or whatever herbs or spices you like with your choice of cheese. Because of having to please many tastes, I just used salt and pepper, adding a little nutmeg at the end.
  • marence

Facing my kitchen fail

I have conquered my one kitchen fail - pie crust.
Everyone loves my pies. Only a few know that my standard pie crust is the pre-made rolled-up kind. Since I am trying to eliminate as much processed food out of our diets, I figured it was time to face my nemesis, the home-made pie crust.
Of course, I had to research it. I scoured cookbooks and the Internet, and decided the secret to flaky, tender crusts was lard.
Of course, I had to make my own lard. So, I bought pork fat at the West Side Market, and rendered it down all day. Result - a jar of pure white animal fat goodness.
Then, the experiment. I went with a 50-50 proportion of butter and lard, and used the same method that Julia Child and Altn Brown use - the food processor.
2-Half Lard,Half Butter
It's incredibly easy to just pulse the dry ingredients, add your fats, and pulse til it's pea sized.
3-Pea Size
Add your ice water, pulse some more, and it's crust! No pastry blender, fingers, or two knives, no chance for mixing too much - I can't believe I was stumped by this problem when the solution has been in my kitchen since the 80s.
4-Pouring Ice Water
The only old-fashioned thing left in the pie crust making was rolling out the dough. Eh, so there's still one pain-in-the-ass step.
Filled with apples and spices, the pie went into the oven, and came out looking perfect.
6-A Is For Apple
The crust was indeed tender and flaky, with a subtle savory bacony touch that worked perfectly with the Melrose apples. Husband and grandson both declared it my best pie ever.
Now if I could just get the husband to stop asking me to make another pie for him...

crossposted to my journal
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    accomplished accomplished

crustless quiches.

Crustless quiches.

Simple, gang.

3 eggs.
2 cups of heavy cream.
a dash of nutmeg
black pepper.

To which you add *anything you want*. Whatever you need to use up in the fridge? Use that. In my case it was caramelized onions, cooked bacon, chopped cooked ham and grated goat's milk cheddar. But really, go nuts, and use anything you want.

I added some dill. Considering the other ingredients I didnt add salt.

fill up ramekins and put them in a dish with high sides(this is a cake pan.)
Put them in a COLD oven (this is important)and fill the dish with water so it comes about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Oven to 325F (roughly 165c)

Leave it alone for 45 minutes, then begin to check them. They should be good to go between 45min to an hour. Test them with a toothpick. They don't need to come out completely clean- but they do need to be set in the middle.

Pull them out. They will deflate slightly after they cool.