Another post that went bonkers…
I have committed an act of disappearance again.
This time due to a long-due, much needed break to go back home.
The holiday was great, it was a highlight all the way through.
The only thing I regret about it was that it was too short. I’ll keep you posted as to my wanderings over there, not necessarily in chronological order.
It was great to see my friends and do a bit of local cooking.I hadn’t been there for ages in the summer and it was lovely to be able to wear sleeveless T-shirts and see the sun at 8 pm still high up in the sky.
Of the many wonderful moments I had, for today’s post I rescue my friend’s birthday, which she celebrated with a “mateada”.
Mateada is a wonderful custom we have back home. We all drink mate through a sort of metal straw and we take turns in the round. There are many cebadores, the people who re-fill the mate for drinking. It’s a skill, it’s not that easy and I have to say, I can’t do it!
But it’s wonderful because it creates that friendly atmosphere which is so unique of the pampas. To be fair, there were many wonderful things to eat on that occasion, including warm ham and cheese croissants to die for. My contribution to it were bizcochitos for the mate (a must!) and as a bonus, prune jam.
Being back home I also took advantage of the time to make some home-made dulce de leche as a gift to friends and family. My friends were delighted (or so they said) as they are not so keen on the industrialized version. I have to say it takes a bit of time (I started it, left it to watch “Mujeres Asesinas”, an excellent Pol-ka production, and went back to it to finish it) but it’s definitely worth it.
I hope you try making the jams and enjoy them as much as everybody did back home.
Prune Jam – from “La Cocina Divertida” by Blanca Cotta
Prunes, 2 cups
Apples, peeled, cored and cut into small pieces, as needed
Sugar, as needed
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Beetroot (raw) peeled and grated, 1
How to make:
1. Place the prunes in a small pan, cover with water and leave them to soak overnight.
2. Boil them until they are tender. Rinse them and core them. (Do not discard the cooking liquid).
3. Mash them with a fork until you have pureed them.
4. Measure the puree in cups and place it in a pan.
5. Add the same amount of cut apples, same volume of cooking liquid (and water if necessary) and same volume of sugar.
6. Cook over low heat, stirring ocassionally, until it thickens. Add the juice and zest of lemon and the grated beetroot.
7. Boil until it thickens like jam.
Dulce de leche – adapted from La Cocina Divertida by Blanca Cotta
Milk, 4 litres
Sugar, 1 kg
Vanilla pod, 1
Bicarbonate of soda, 1 teaspoon
How to make:
1. Boil the four litres of milk, sieve it and pass it to another pan because the milk, as it boils, almost always leaves solids behind. To do it, choose a VERY BIG pan because dulce de leche, as it boils, climbs up like a thief on the run…
2. Add the sugar, the vanilla pod and the bicarbonate to the milk. The bicarbonate is added so that the dulce de leche doesn’t split and also to give it a dark colour.
3. Boil over high heat all the time. Beware because at the beginning there will be a lot of bicarbonate-induced foam. This is why I suggested a BIG pan.
4. As soon as it boils, dulce de leche will begin to thicken, just as it happens when you make syrup. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon, so that the dulce de leche doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
5. When the dulce de leche thickens like a light bechamel sauce, take the pan off the heat, place it in the sink previously filled with cold water and stir all the time with a wooden spoon until it cools down. Place it in sterilized jars and give it away as a present!
Bizcochitos for the mate – adapted from a recipe by Blanca Cotta in Viva magazine
200 ml cream (either single or double)
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
Self-raising flour, as needed
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Place the cream and Parmesan cheese in a bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix with a fork as you add the flour. You should add as much as you need to form a soft dough.
2. Place on the workplace, sprinkle it with flour knead. Do this as many times as you need to get a dough that is not too sticky. Roll it out and cut it into small rounds.
3. Place them onto buttered and floured oven trays. Fork them and cook them until dry.