Milk Jam

28 Nov 2012

Milk jam. Confiture de Lait. Dulce de Leche. The beautiful byproduct of a simmering pot of milk + sugar. A prime suspect in the mystery of the ill-fitting jeans. A case as easily solved as Nancy Drew’s Case of the Crooked BanisterI could eat milk jam by the spoonful, which is why it is only made for special occasions. Special occasions like “Hey mom, it’s Wednesday!”

Thought I’d share how to make milk jam with you as it’s another fun adventure in dairy farm living. The milk I use is from our cows, but you can use any whole milk (grass-fed and organic would be superior, but not necessary.)

Pour it over ice cream, pudding, cake, apple pie or crumble, prepare it with goat’s milk for cajeta, spread onto sandwich cookies, gift it for the holidays…or just simply put it in a jar and dip a spoon in when the mood strikes. Yes, it takes a wee bit of patience…these time-honoured traditions take time. But, by all means, just make it.

Farmhouse Milk Jam

1 Litre (4 cups) whole milk


300g caster sugar


½ tsp sea salt


½ tsp baking soda


1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

In a large pot add milk and stir in the sugar, salt, baking soda and vanilla extract.

Turn heat to med-high and bring the milk mixture to a boil without stirring. Once you see the milk start to boil and bubble slightly, lower the heat (the milk will froth and rise rapidly if it is overboiled.)

Once it’s boiling, turn the heat down to low and skim the foam from the top. Continue to simmer uncovered for around 2 hours, stirring constantly. (consider it the workout before indulgence!)

It’s best to cook it as low and slow as possible. If the heat is too high, the milk will boil and form a skin that won’t disappear no matter how much you whisk.

Check your consistency at about 2 hours. I usually stop it now when I want a runnier caramel to use in other recipes. Cook it a little longer if you want a thicker jam to use as a spread or to sandwich cookies. Just remember that it’ll thicken up more while it cools and when it’s in the fridge.

I have decided to start sharing some inspiring bits + bobs that I come across during the month. all the time.  Will post on an ad hoc basis and call it Bits of Bacchanalia.  {I love the term bacchanalia, by definition, a gathering of people eating, drinking and having a good time…aka, our kind of people!} 

Tis the season, right? I hope you enjoy.

{Bits of Bacchanalia}

Last weekend, I spent a night at the bucolic & welcoming Barnabrow House in East Cork. Geraldine Kidd is the consummate host, and Scottish Chef Stuart Bowes prepared an absolute *mean* Feast of East Cork. We went home happy with holiday puddings and bottles of Cork’s own 8 Degrees Brewing seasonal Winter Ale. 

The Christmas Market opens at Doonbeg on the 7th of December. We will surely be going, beautiful location + wonderful gift ideas. Not to mention, aul’ Santa.

The first commercially brewed Belgian style ale, Dr. Rudi, has been produced in Ireland under the Brown Bag Project label.  According to head brewer, Brian Short, ‘Dr Rudi is best enjoyed poured into a stemmed glass that tapers in at the top, to concentrate all the lovely big fruity aromas of the hop. Serving temperature should be about 10 degrees Celsius to allow the flavours to shine through.’ Available at two of our favourite Dublin haunts  L. Mulligan Grocer + W.J. Kavanaghs 

RTE Lifestyle did a wonderful little recap of the Kitchen Archives: From Spoon to Screen discussion that I participated in at the National Library in Dublin last week.

My butcher buddy, Pat Whelan, has launched his {first in the world} Beef Bonds this month. Exciting! 

We received a this beautifully illustrated book in the post this week from a Dublin PR co….compiled by Bord na Móna for Focus Ireland…proceeds go to fight homelessness in Ireland. 

Apparently, the New York Times was jazzed by juniper junket last week too.

I have just completed Jeanne Oliver’s Creatively Made Home e-course, I recommend it highly. Now, apparently I can gift it to you at a discount price of 38 USD since I am a former student! Leave a comment below if interested.

My farming friend, Kimberly Taylor, of Blackberry Farm, has just opened her Tiggy + Grace online shop..nip over there now!

Keep an eye out for the fabulous new Foodie Crush holiday issue

I just love Ilana’s blog….how could I resist, she likes to refer to it as  “the blob”

I’m on Instagram if you want to follow along for more farm + food adventures!

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

Photos, styling, and slurping by Imen McDonnell 2012

 

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I swore that I would not fall prey to copious imbibing of fish and chips. I distinctly remember putting it on a list of cons when making the decision to come and live in Ireland. “Con #6: Fish and Chip Consumption” I knew that it would be possible to give in to frequent “chipper runs” to the Pink Potato around the corner which would clearly be the demise of my yoga-fied figure that I had been so diligently been working on. We discussed it in detail. Made a plan. And I was convinced that I would not lay a hand on a fish and chip more than once or twice in a year.

Hooey.

For those of you who are Irish, fish and chips may be as ordinary and non-exciting as pork and beans would be to an American. But to me, (perhaps us?) it is nearly a delicacy. A luxury. At the very least, a treat. And of course, it tastes far different than any Friday Night Fish Fry I’ve ever encountered. Maybe it’s the malt vinegar drizzled over the top, maybe the Atlantic cod, or dare I say, maybe it’s the mushy peas that my husband puts on my plate when it accompanies an order of fish and chip at Doonbeg.  Maybe it’s because the fish from chippers comes wrapped in brown paper. Maybe it’s the cheese and garlic sauce that is sometimes on offer. Maybe it’s the batter that reminds me of all the battered goodness at the State Fair.

I don’t know. But, eating a fish and chip from time to time is simply unavoidable, if not totally unnatural.

It was not often that I would actually prepare a fish and chip dinner at home, because somehow, for me, doesn’t seem like the real thing unless you are ordering from a chipper or ordering it off the menu at someplace like this. But, since we moved out of Adare and onto the farm, I have taken to learning to make nearly everything from scratch here at home as it is less trouble than driving for three quarters of an hour for supper….especially if craving a fish and chip.

At some point, I decided it was time to create our own version of fish and chips here at home. Of course, I had to put a little American spin on it and add beer to the batter (for this post, I used a lovely new Irish craft Ale called Sunburnt Irish Red by 8 Degrees Brewing) which did not go astray, and, in fact, really boosted the flavor. I also add some freshly cut thyme or dill from our garden depending on the day.

But, the best bit is the chickpea chips (or frites if you’re fancy). Both farmers-little and big- regularly request them. The recipe is from an amazing restaurant in Napa Valley, CA called Ubuntu. These chips are somewhat time-consuming upfront, but well worth the trouble. Totally delicious and marginally more healthy than potatoes because chickpeas are protein packed.  In fact, you could make a meal out of the chickpea chips alone.

Our little boy has named this version of fish and chips, “Dunmoylan Fish & Chip” since our “chipper” is right here on the farm.  Add any Irish ale of your choosing and try the lemon aioli dipping sauce on the side if you please. (or vinegar, tartar… Ballymaloe relish goes great with the chickpea chips too!)

Irish Ale & Thyme Battered Fish

Ingredients (serves 4)

225g (1 1/2 cups) self-raising flour

1 egg, lightly whisked

375ml (1 1/2 cups) chilled light beer

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Vegetable oil, to deep-fry

8 (about 120g each) white fish fillets (such as flathead or whiting)

Sea salt flakes, to serve

Lemon wedges, to serve

Place flour in a bowl. Add the egg and stir to combine. Gradually whisk in beer until batter is smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.

Add enough vegetable oil to a large saucepan to reach a depth of 8cm. Heat to 190°C over high heat (when oil is ready a cube of bread will turn golden brown in 10 seconds). Dip 2 pieces of fish, 1 at a time, into batter to coat. Drain off excess. Deep-fry for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown and cooked. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat, in 3 more batches, with remaining fish and batter, reheating oil between batches.

Chickpea Chips

Ingredients (Serves 4)

2 1/2 cups chickpea flour , plus more for dusting (avail at natural foods stores)

1 cup cornmeal (maize meal in Ireland)

2 cloves garlic , finely grated

3 Tbsp. kosher salt , plus more to taste

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 Tbsp. chopped rosemary

Zest of 2 lemons

Vegetable oil , for frying

In a stainless steel pot over high heat, combine chickpea flour, cornmeal, 7 cups of cold water, garlic, and salt. Whisk gently to prevent sticking on the bottom; over-whisking will cause the final product to “soufflé” and fall.

Once the mixture begins to thicken and bubble (after about 3 to 4 minutes), reduce heat to medium and switch to a rubber spatula. Add remaining ingredients except oil, stir to combine, and continue stirring to prevent sticking. When mixture pulls from the sides of the pot like a dough (after about 6 to 8 minutes), transfer it to a rimmed sheet pan lined with nonstick aluminum foil. Spread mixture out evenly, cover with a sheet of plastic wrap, and top with another sheet pan. Refrigerate for 4 hours until completely cold and set.

Carefully remove mixture from pan by gently lifting the bottom layer of aluminum foil onto a cutting board. Remove plastic wrap, then cut into “fries” about 3 inches long.

Heat oil in a large pot to 190°C over high heat (when oil is ready a cube of bread will turn golden brown in 10 seconds).  Toss fries lightly in additional cornmeal, and deep-fry them in small batches until crispy, about 3 minutes. Remove and set on paper towels. Sprinkle with kosher salt to taste and serve with lemon garlic aioli.

Lemon Aioli

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 clove garlic, minced

½ tsp lemon zest

3 tablespoons lemon juice

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients together.

Serve as dipping sauce.

And…drum roll please…the winner of the Farmhouse Cheeses of Ireland book drawing is: Tim Magnuson. Tim, please email your mailing address to me at imen.producer@ireland.com so I can send the book out to you straight away! A big, big thank you to everyone for participating in my first ‘official’ book giveaway. There will be more to come, promise! xx

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

Photos and styling by Imen McDonnell. For more food styling + photography work, please contact me at imen.producer@ireland.com.

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