Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Almost Spring.

To today's recipes. One is another unusual one, a tip given by Gary Rhodes. How to make 'toffee' using a can of condensed milk. I feel bound to offer a health and safety warning here, if only to cover my own back (he didn't), as I noticed on the tin the caution that the tin should not be boiled unopened in case it burst. Duly cautioned I still carried on boiling. Nothing went wrong.
Soft Toffee:
Put a tin of condensed milk into a deep saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring it to the boil, and simmer for no less than three hours, topping up with boiling water if necessary (I put at least an inch of water over the tin, covered the pan, let it simmer slowly and the water level didn't drop). Leave to cool in the water. Remove can, wipe dry and it will keep in the fridge, unopened, for at least the length of the use-by date. If it has a b.before day, it should keep even longer.
Once the tin has been opened you will find the contents have turned a caramel colour. The milk will now be very thick, almost solid but can be spread. It can also be whipped with an equal amount of cream (even pouring cream but whipping cream is better) and this, when chilled, will firm up to spoon onto desserts etc. Also could be used as an ingredient when making ice-cream.

Yesterday I tried spooning some of this 'toffee' into a dish and blending it with some thick custard I had left. This made a good 'sauce' to serve with the Quick Chocolate Cake (heated) made the day before. Over the next day or two I will be experimenting using the 'toffee' when I intend having a go at making a variation of Banoffie Pie .
As this 'toffee; is made only using condensed milk, there are no additives or any extra sugars added, so could be a healthy way to get the toffee flavour. Best to read the tin and see nutritional advice as I am sure it must contain many calories.

This next, and last recipe for today. is for a cheese sauce which makes a goodly amount as it will keep in the fridge for up to ten days, and can also be frozen, preferably in small, usuable portions. If you want to make less, or just a trial batch, halve or quarter the ingredients. Cheddar is the obvious choice of hard cheese used, and possibly a way to get rid of those odds and ends of different cheeses that can build up. Certainly Wensleydale cheese melts beautifully. If you like the taste of blue cheese, then why not trying making a smaller amount using the last of your Stilton.
Dry mustard is one of the ingredients, but again, a spoon of made mustard (in this case go for English as it gives the best 'bite') could be substituted. Use Dijon mustard if you like less heat, but don't leave out mustard altogether.

Ready to Use Welsh Rarebit Sauce: makes enough for 16 slices of toast (F)
1 1/2lb (700g) grated Cheddar or other hard cheeses
5 fl.oz (150ml) milk
1 oz (25g) plain flour
2 oz (5og) fresh breadcrumbs (pref.white)
1 tblsp. English mustard powder (less if you wish)
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks (keep the whites for meringues)
white pepper (only because it doesn't leave brown specks).
Put the cheese in a pan over a low heat, and add the milk. Heat gently until the cheese has melted but DO NOT BOIL (or the fats will separate out). When smooth sprinkle in the flour mustard powder and a little pepper, stir until the mixture thickens and forms a ball away from the sides of the pan. Cool.
When cold, put into a food processor (or use an electric hand whisk or even a wooden spoon) and slowly beat in the eggs and yolks, one at a time. Put into a covered container and keep in the fridge.
Tip: I have spread this mixture over a lined baking tray and then scored it with a knife into breadsized slices. Froze it until solid, then cut right through and lifted off the slices of Rarebit, put them in a bag and then kept them frozen until needed. They can then be used to put onto toast and grilled in the normal way.
Alternative ways of using the (unfrozen) sauce is to take some in your floured hands and press it onto lightly poached smoked haddock or cooked kippers, then place under a grill until the cheese is bubbling.
If you have a hard lump of this frozen cheese sauce, try grating it and using it to top lasagne or any other dish that uses a cheesy sauce topping. Any unused frozen sauce can be returned to the freezer.
With a little juggling of the ingredients, it might even cook up like choux pastry, given that the method of is very similar. Another variation for me to try. But later. Time for me to trot.