Suzi and I are on the road. We are in Bozeman, Montana for a couple of days, then driving down to be with our daughter and boyfriend in Yellowstone National Park. Kelly is already in Yellowstone and baiting Suzi by claiming she has seen a moose. Suzi and I have been in pursuit of moose for years. We have traveled all across Maine and never seen one. Suzi is hopeful that Kelly has not scared all the moose [meese?] away.
Since I’m about to traipse through marshland in search of large mammals, I’m going to offer you some cookbook reviews that offer the best in summer cooking. Take a look at these books and get your grill — and your salad bowl — ready.
Sometimes you see a new cookbook and there can only be one reaction: “Oh, my God.” Dulce de Leche is just that kind of book.
If you have never had dulce de leche, it’s almost impossible to describe its first impact. It’s a confection, made by slowly heating sweetened milk to create a viscous substance that is thick and gooey. And sweet.
You’ll remember the first time you eat dulce de leche, much as you remember the first time your rode a bike — or some other key moment in your life. Suzi and I were at her favorite Mexican restaurant in Boston. It was my first visit there and the meal was hot and intense. When we ordered dessert, we each got a serving of the chilled banana slices with something brown and gooey on top plus a sprinkling of nuts.
“Go ahead,” my wife said. She waited for me. I took one bite and my head snapped up. Suzi laughed. I have never had anything sweeter in my life.
Most Americans have not had the pleasure of dulce de leche. If, on the other hand, you live in Argentina, then dulce de leche is on your table from morning to midnight. It’s a sweetener, an adornment, a key ingredient. It is ubiquitous.
In this book you see using this sweet concoction to:
Modify your morning cappuccino — surely a normal idea
Dulce de leche rolls — an alternative to cinnamon rolls
Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese and dulce de leche — now we are edging upward in dulce application
Roast Turkey with Rosemary and Dulce de Leche Butter inserted under the skin — and there we go over the top.
Yes, imagine your Thanksgiving bird prepared with this sweet substance slathered under the skin. Imagine the flavors penetrating the meat as the turkey roasts away.
Oh, a companion for the Thanksgiving turkey can be the Carrot Soufflé. Made, of course, with dulce de leche. And not a little dollop of dulce melting on top. No, a cup of dulce for one pound of carrots.
Author Josephine Caminos Oria was born in Argentina, came to the United States at age one, then returned home where she has embraced her dulce de leche heritage.
The book begins with recipes, very authentic grandmother recipes, for making dulce de leche. There is the traditional brown one you may have enjoyed but also flavored versions: honey, burnt caramel, dark chocolate, and confectionary [even sweeter if that is possible!]. Suzi and I made the dark chocolate version and I’ll post that recipe tomorrow. Here’s a tease: you begin with a gallon of milk.
Dulce de leche is in play here in recipes for:
- Afternoon Tea
- Small Plates
In some dishes, like Carrot Soufflé, the dulce is an ingredient, simply an ingredient. In the desserts, dulce is often a hidden surprise, like a topping for Italian Meringue Brownies: brownies are baked, holed poked in, dulce poured into the holes, then topped with meringue that is swiftly baked. Recipe after recipe, the dulce is craftily used to fashion dishes that I would never have been possible.
The turkey and the carrot soufflé? They are headed to our Thanksgiving table.
If you have a sweet tooth, or would like to develop one, then this is a book you will take to bed with you each night. It’s that comfy. And important.