I hope I never lose my sense of wonder. If that makes me naive, then so be it.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

when life gives you evaporated milk

I've been craving donairs. They were the late-night study food in university, shaved seasoned meat coated with  garlicky sauce in a pita. A real Maritime thing. Not being there, I looked up a recipe that I'm trying tonight - the meat is made and cooling - but realized this morning that the sauce called for canned evaporated milk. Of course, none was to be found on the kitchen shelf. 

No problem! I thought. I am adventurous! I will make some.

My darling Le Creuset saucier was called into action (yes, it weighs more than a pan that size should. But it is happy and red and makes me feel like a real cook when I use it), and I started simmering milk. All was going well until I was explaining to the girls why I was cooking milk, and A, who was helping by putting groceries away, poked a can around the corner of the cellar door. "You mean this?" Oh. I did have some, after all.

So here I was with hot milk on the stove. What to do? Crème anglaise. I've wanted to try it for a while, and the transition was easy: some sugar stirred into the hot milk, six egg yolks beaten with more sugar until they were light and "lightly ribboned into the bowl". It looked ribbonish, so I think I got that right. The yolks were tempered (add some of the hot stuff to bring up the temperature gradually, so when they're incorporated into the hot milk they don't turn into scrambled eggs) then added to the milk, and all cooked to the right consistency. A splash of vanilla, and there it was. And it tastes AMAZING. Close-your-eyes-when-you-taste-it good. Sweet, not in a cloying way, but a gentle, simple sweetness that comes of having four simple ingredients.

Sometimes being wrong is annoying. Other times, it leads to sweet serendipity - in life, not just in cooking.

The crème wants something lovely to go with, so I'm making a not-too-sweet chocolate cake (but it would be so good with fresh berries, with tarte tatin, with baked meringue... the list goes on). Even if the donairs don't come quite up to my Maritimer standards, I know dessert will be good.

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