Making DULCE DE LECHE the EASY, safe way

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DULCE DE LECHE, made the SAFE, easy way.  Who doesn’t like caramel?  But who has the time to watch a tin of condensed milk turn into luscious caramel boiling in a pot, with all the risks of it boiling dry, exploding, burning you?

So, again, I’ve worked on making the process safer, and (me being me…) a whole lot easier?

Well first we start with the can of condensed milk.  Here are 3 of the different varieties available here in New Zealand and a can of already prepared caramel.   The Nestle brand is almost universal internationally.

3 cans of condensed milk, and one (bottom left) of already prepared caramel

Yes, you can purchase pre-prepared caramel (Dulce de Leche), but it’s more expensive, and somehow doesn’t have the deep richness of a can that’s been boiled for hours…..

But most people have a crockpot these days, also known as a slow cooker…..

Are you with me?

Yes, slow cooking is exactly what’s needed to turn the condensed milk into caramel, and without having to stand for ages at the stove!!   And, because it’s so easy, I usually make several cans at a time, so I always have some ready, when the Sugar urge hits me.

So, get your crockpot out, turn it on, and partially fill it with some warm water.

Take the labels off the condensed milk cans, and place them into the crockpot.  The one I’ve used is one of 2 small crockpots I have ( I have 2 larger ones too) and takes four cans nicely.

NOTE – although I show cans with ringtab openings, I DON’T recommend using these unless you are in the house.  I recommend the fully sealed cans, without ringtabs, to be completely safe.

4 cans in, not yet fully covered with water

Cans covered over their tops with hot water

So, the cans in, then filled about 25 mm (about an inch) above the cans with more hot water.  Turn on the crockpot, setting “high“, put the lid on, and leave until the water starts to simmer.  Turn the heat to “low“, and leave it, covered, for 8-9 hours.    After 4 hours, you can carefully turn the cans over with a pair of tongs, but not absolutely necessary.

The four cans in the crockpot, safely left for 8-9 hours

Leave to cool in the crockpot, then lift out, dry, and LABEL THE CANS “Dulce de Leche – Caramel” with a permanent marker pen.    Sorry, I didn’t mean to shout, but it’s frustrating to try and work out what’s in a can without a label!

So – that’s it!   Luscious caramel or Dulce de Leche in a can, ready to go!!  Four of them, if you’re thinking ahead…..!

Now I bet you’re going to find ways of using this before I get back with MY ideas….. and I don’t blame you (no judgments here..), but do try and keep one to try with me…..

And – enjoy!!

 

 

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TIN GLIDE CAKE RELEASE for coating cake tins

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TIN GLIDE CAKE RELEASE for coating cake tins.

This very simple TIN GLIDE CAKE RELEASE for coating cake tins will solve your cake sticking problems forever.  And it’s so simple to make, and doesn’t need to be refrigerated, either.

Tin glide cake release – stop your cakes sticking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tin glide for coating cake tins                                                  Double Mix:

4 oz = 125 gm            Chefade (solid vegetable shortening)          8 oz = 250 gm (cup)

2 oz = 60 gm              Flour (plain)                                                     4 oz = 125 gm

1 oz = 30 gm/ml       Oil (canola)                                                       2 oz = 60gm/ml

To make:

Melt Chefade in microwave, add in vegetable oil, stir in flour. mix well.

That’s it!

Keep OUT of the fridge, in a cool place.

You may need to melt and stir a bit to use, so use a glass jar that can be microwaved.

To use:  Brush onto the cake tin with a pastry brush.   I have shown a silicone one, and a very old wire and bristle one.

Autumn’s Culinary Tip:

You can sift plain flour over the Tin Glide, but it’s not necessary, but may make you extra assured.

Use some cocoa powder if you’re doing this for a chocolate cake.

TIN GLIDE CAKE RELEASE for coating cake tins
Author: 
Recipe type: tips and tricks, baking
Cuisine: international
 
A very quick, easy and economical way to stop cakes sticking to tins.
Ingredients
  • 4 oz = 125 gm Chefade (solid vegetable shortening)
  • 2 oz = 60 gm Flour (plain)
  • 1 oz = 30 gm/ml Oil (canola)
Method
  1. Melt Chefade in microwave, add in vegetable oil, stir in flour. mix well.
  2. That's it!
  3. Keep OUT of the fridge, in a cool place.
  4. You may need to melt and stir a bit to use, so use a glass jar that can be microwaved.
  5. To use: Brush onto the cake tin with a pastry brush. I have shown a silicone one, and a very old wire and bristle one.
  6. Autumn's Culinary Tip:
  7. You can sift plain flour over the Tin Glide, but it's not necessary, but may make you extra assured.
  8. Use some cocoa powder if you're doing this for a chocolate cake.

 

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Tea Smoking food in your kitchen

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Tea smoking small amounts of food in a Cast Iron Casserole, right in your own kitchen!

Ever fancied some smoked chicken or smoked salmon, but been put off by the price, or you don’t like the idea of all the pumped-in additives listed on the packaging?  Here’s a quick way to smoke small amounts at home, and it’s surprisingly easy to do, in your own kitchen, with nothing more fancy than 3 basic pieces of equipment.  All you need is a heavy cast iron casserole that has a well fitting lid, a small cake rack or trivet that will fit easily inside, and a roll of aluminium foil!

You have all the ingredients needed to smoke food, right in your pantry, too – though there are exotic ones you can add, should you fancy.

It’s a wonderful way to infuse food with flavour quickly.  You can marinade your chicken or salmon beforehand if wished, steam it slowly to cook (or grill, for extra browning),  then follow the smoking method.  For larger amounts you can use the same method (with double the ingredients) in a wok, but this simple technique is accessible to the average cook, in the average kitchen, and is fun to try for a food adventure.  Go on, take the plunge and experiment!

tea smoking - the mix on foil

tea smoking – the mix on foil

tea smoking - the lightly cooked food on trivet.

tea smoking – the lightly cooked food on trivet.

tea smoking - the trivet and salmon during smoking process

tea smoking – the trivet and salmon during smoking process

tea smoking - salmon cooling after smoking process

tea smoking – salmon cooling after smoking process

 

Tea Smoking food in your kitchen
Author: 
Recipe type: Paleo, snack, trick
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: varies
 
Here’s a quick way to smoke small amounts at home, and it’s surprisingly easy to do, in your own kitchen, with nothing more fancy than 3 basic pieces of equipment. All you need is a heavy cast iron casserole that has a well fitting lid, a small cake rack or trivet that will fit easily inside, and a roll of aluminium foil! You have all the ingredients needed to smoke food, right in your pantry, too – though there are exotic ones you can add, should you fancy.
Ingredients
  • 2 tea bags ( I used one ordinary one, and one Lapsang Souchong – already a smokey flavour)
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup uncooked rice (it stops the other ingredients burning too quickly)
  • Extras: you can add all sorts of other flavours, but I suggest you master the smoking process first! Some good additions – not all at once! – are: a piece of cinnamon quill, half a star anise, broken up, some wood shavings, some slices of ginger root, dried citrus peel (lemon, lime, or orange produce different flavours), sprigs of woody herbs such as thyme or rosemary (use sparingly...). Again, experiment!
Method
  1. Line casserole (a heavy cast iron dutch oven type, with good heavy, well fitting lid) with aluminium kitchen foil. Cut a piece for the lid, too. The purpose of this is to stop the smoke smell infusing your casserole, although my pics show just a small liner, for clarity.
  2. You cook (I recommend steaming) your chicken or fish, then place it either directly on the trivet, or on a tiny piece of foil on the rivet.
  3. Place pre-cooked food either on trivet directly (if firm, like chicken), or on a small piece of foil that is not much larger than the food, so smoke can get to it all, and place onto trivet.
  4. Empty tea from teabags, brown sugar, and rice onto foil in base of casserole, mix lightly, taking care not to rip foil.
  5. Heat element until hot. Turn on kitchen extractor fan, if possible, or open windows – it may get smokey!
  6. Place casserole onto element, watch carefully until sugar starts to bubble and smoke, and place food on trivet into base. then turn element down by half, put foil across top, and place lid on top.
  7. Leave for several minutes, checking every 2 minutes or so.
  8. When all the “fuel” is used, or food is smoked to the colour you wish (it will darken a little on cooling), turn off the element, shift casserole off the element, and leave to cool, with the lid on.
  9. Smoked food can be used hot or cold, but should be treated as “hot smoked” food, and eaten within a couple of days or so.
  10. Tou can tea smoke many other foods: Mussels, scallops, tomatoes, capsicums.... you name it! If it’s edible, and you want it smokey-flavoured, then experiment!

Autumn’s Culinary Notes:

I recently used this method for cooking a piece of sea salmon for my Smoked Salmon Chickpea Patties (recipe to come).  The nearly 400 gm piece of fresh salmon was on special, and cost me under $NZ 5.00.  The amount I needed for my recipe, 200 gms of pre-prepared smoked salmon, was over $NZ 10.00.

So you can see that, for a little bit of grilling (the method I used to precook the salmon, in a mini bench griller, before smoking it), and then the fun of doing the smoking so some friends could see the method, and you could all see too, through the pictures….. well…. the economics are obvious…… well, so long as you’re not “time” poor, and have an adventurous streak!

But it’s the TASTE, too – there’s a definite advantage there, plus the advantage of knowing exactly what ingredients have gone into the process!  No painted-on colouring (with the “nasties” in those), and no “pumped-in” flavouring, either.

Everything that’s there is there because YOU did it!  And there’s an enormous satisfaction in that!

You often hear of smoking food in a wok – well, you can double the above ingredients, and do that, too – same ingredients, basically, and same method.  I’ve just made this accessible to anyone, as not everyone has a wok, or is cooking for a lot of people!  In a casserole, I guess the most you could smoke for would be 3 or 4.

But why not!  Spoil yourself! Tea smoking food is fun! Have an adventure!   Experiment!

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Tips & Tricks – Lining a Cake Tin

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One of my young friends asked how I got the base of my cake so smooth and even.   I showed her, and photographed the results, so you can see, too.

Far easier than greasing and flouring the cake tin, using modern baking papers (not greaseproof, but a good baking paper, made for cake tin lining) saves grubby hands, but is only easier IF you actually know how to fit the paper into the tin.

All you need are a marker pen, your baking paper, a pair of scissors, and your cake tin – preferably one with a snaplock side, to easily remove your cake when it’s cooled.

lining cake tin - step one: draw around base

lining cake tin – step one:   draw around base

line caketin-2

2. Cut slightly inside that line with a pair of scissors. This will be your final base paper.

line caketin-3

3. Roll the baking paper around tin to overlap by at least 2 inches (5 cm) and cut from roll.

line caketin-4

4. Make a double fold, over twice the height of the tin. Make another fold, and cut up to this edge, as shown. This is so the paper will sit evenly inside the tin (whether it is round or square).

5. Slide the ends of the double fold over each other until it fits into the tin smoothly. Fit the "fringe" ends into the bottom evenly.

5. Slide the ends of the double fold over each other until it fits into the tin smoothly. Fit the “fringe” ends into the bottom evenly.

 

 

 

6. Now place the base piece you cut first over the fringe ends, and hey presto! You're ready to bake!

6. Now place the base piece you cut first over the fringe ends, and hey presto! You’re ready to bake!

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Tips & Tricks – Cutting Onions

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Cutting onions – How to cut onions so they don’t fall apart when they’re being caramelised, or being used in stews?

Easy, peasy!  Just follow the simple instructions, and you’ll rarely cut onions any other way!

Yes, it’s not the recommended chef’s way – but it works, and that’s what matters!

onions-A

One onion, and a knife.

Chop off top and root ends, cut in half

Chop off top and root ends, cut in half

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cut towards centre of of the semi-circle, along the "lines" on the onion, as thinly as you wish the slices

Cut towards centre of of the semi-circle, along the “lines” on the onion, as thinly as you wish the slices to be

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lovely even slivers of onion, perfects for casseroles, for caramelising, or whatever you need onions for.

Lovely even slivers of onion, perfects for casseroles, for caramelising, or whatever you need slivers of onions for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cutting onions the other way around –  or “around the middle”, rather than “top to bottom”, as shown here, is recommended when you need small dice.

I was taught, years ago, that this was a French cutting technique.  True or not, it sure makes nicer caramalised onions, and casseroles where the onions don’t fall apart, and is another trick in your cooking repertoire.

 

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Tips & Tricks – Basic Kitchen Skills

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Tips & Tricks – Basic Kitchen Skills

Since starting this blog, I’ve become very conscious of the need to show some good basic cooking techniques!

If you are shown HOW to do it, the rest is easy, but so many don’t know how, as they’ve never been shown.

If you do know – skip this part!

If you don’t, help is here, and these tips will make life easier!

Basic things – like cutting onions, lining a cake tin, and so on.  As things crop up, there’ll be a post on it, with pictures, hopefully!

Just an update, for those who aren’t aware:  I’m in a wheelchair most of the time, and have some lovely young ladies who help me with the dishes for the blog (although they are generally my own recipes (often decades old!), apart from physical help).

These young women, often solo mums with families to support, are surprising me with their excitement in learning new skills (apart from the stack of recipes they’re taking home!), and that got me thinking about doing a separate section, dedicated to showing you HOW to do things that experienced cooks take for granted.

It’s going to take a bit of time to do the photos required for this, as it wasn’t part of the original vision.   But seeing my young friends grow in confidence and enjoyment in their kitchen culinary skills is an unexpected bonus for me, and for them.

There’s clearly a need, even in my tiny part of the world, so I’m guessing that – as the internet makes the world a global village these days – more people may find their way here, and say “gosh, is THAT how you do that!”, as my lovely helpers do, too!

There’s no “right” or “wrong” way…. but trust me, I’ll show you the EASY way!

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