Tuesday, December 29, 2009

In which I make two things I haven't made before and one that I have, with mixed results

New thing the first: dulce de leche
I've wanted to try making dulce de leche for ages since it's awesomely delicious and apparently just a matter of mixing milk and sugar and being patient. Plus, any commercially available dulce de leche that I've been able to find around here has all sorts of preservatives and other crap in it. Like, why would you put corn syrup in something that's made of sugar? I used the guidelines at thekitchn and Chez Pim, the latter of which had me entertaining fantasies of living in a cottage and having a Jersey cow with unimaginably long eyelashes. Her name would be Ruby and she'd wear a ribbon on her tail and a shiny brass bell around her neck. I would lead her to pasture every morning singing folk tunes and rest my forehead on her warm flank when I milked her. Then I realized that I was basically thinking of the plot of Heidi, only not with goats.

I used half a gallon of whole milk, a scant two cups of sugar and I added the baking soda recommended by thekitchn, for (spoiler alert!) all the good it did me.
So, it definitely worked, and I think that if I hadn't just given up after more than four and a half freaking hours of cooking milk on the stove — I actually started at 5:00 — it would have darkened more, but I was kind of over it at that point. It tastes fine, but doesn't have the depth of flavor that I was hoping for. I think my mistake was in using a very wide pan and extremely low heat, so it just didn't heat the way it needed. I'll try it again soon with a smaller amount of milk and slightly higher heat and see how that goes. In the meantime, I have a cereal bowl full of somewhat mediocre sort-of-dulce-de-leche in my fridge. I'm thinking about maybe swirling it into a batch of brownies for a potluck dinner I'm going to this Friday.

New thing the second: kale chips
I thought this was going to be a home run. I love kale, I love salt and vinegar chips — how could salt and vinegar kale chips fail to be awesome? I followed the guidelines here, chopping and spinning and mixing and rubbing and sprinkling and baking like a good little kale-chip maker.
And I think they turned out the way they were supposed to. I think that I just don't like dehydrated kale. In future, as in the past, when I want chips, I will eat real chips. And I will continue to eat kale with pasta or in soup or sauteed or any of the other ways I already enjoy it.

Previously made thing the only: curried lentil soup with vegetables
I followed the same basic guidelines outlined here, with the following tweaks:
1 1/4 c. lentils (slightly less than original, what I had on hand)
half water, half chicken broth for the liquid
more vegetables: three large carrots, three smallish sweet potatoes, a whole head of cauliflower
barley instead of rice, still 1/2 c.
right at the end, I stirred in a can of low-fat coconut milk
Damn, this is some fine, fine soup.

[originally published on my old food blog 10.27.2009]

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