Category Archives: Dairy

Irish Coffee

Originally published March 18, 2012.

Cream, rich as an Irish brogue;
Coffee, strong as a friendly hand;
Sugar, sweet as the tongue of a rogue;
Whiskey, smooth as the wit of the land.

-a traditional toast accompanying Irish coffee

 

Irish Coffee with Floated Cream

The Irish coffee typically served in restaurants here either has cream stirred into the drink, or whipped cream floating on top.  The traditional way to enjoy the drink is to gently pour heavy cream onto the surface of the coffee so that it floats, then sip the coffee through the cream.

Let’s discuss ingredients.

The Coffee – Use good coffee.  Brew it strong.

The Sugar – Irish coffee is made with brown sugar which has a distinct, cooked, molasses-like taste.  … Continue reading.

Squash and Barley ‘Risotto’

Squash and barley risotto with roasted autumn vegetables.Risotto is a traditional northern Italian dish of short-grain rice cooked in broth and finished with butter and grated hard cheese, usually parmigianno.  The “ris” in the name refers to the rice, so “barley risotto” is sort of an oxymoron.  There happens to be an Italian word for barley cooked in the same style as risotto: orzotto.[1]

Anyways, this morning I prepared a squash and barley risotto on Global Edmonton and promised to post the recipe here.  This is a dish we do at Elm Catering throughout the autumn, a re-imagining of the traditional risotto using some local fall ingredients.  It would be a great addition to a Thanksgiving dinner, perhaps in lieu of mash potatoes.

You can use … Continue reading.

Liptauer

A pot of liptauer with chives.This is a tasty spread I often serve at Austrian cooking classes.

Liptauer is originally from Liptov, in Slovakia, formerly part of the Austro-Hungarian empire.  The dish became quite popular in Austria-proper, and is now considered a classic part of that country’s cuisine.

In Austria Liptauer is made with a soft, fresh cheese called Topfen.  Topf is the German word for pot, so Topfen can be translated as “pot cheese”.  It goes by the name Quark (pronounced “KVARK”) in many other parts of Europe.  Austrians will scoff, but the recipe below approximates Topfen by using a mixture of cream cheese and sour cream.

Besides cheese, the other essential ingredient in Liptauer is paprika, which is ubiquitous in several Eastern … Continue reading.

Sylvan Star Cheese Farm

Sylvan Star owner Jan with a wheel of Grizzly aged goudaI have purchased, without exaggeration, tens of thousands of dollars of Sylvan Star cheese. Not for personal consumption, of course, but for the restaurants I’ve worked for over the past few years.  The mac and cheese served from the Nomad food truck, for instance, was made with Sylvan Star medium Gouda.  The grilled cheese sandwiches at Elm are currently made with a blend of medium, smoked, and aged Gouda.  Rarely does a week pass without my purchasing at least a whole wheel of cheese from Sylvan Star.

Jan Schalkwyk is the owner of Sylvan Star, and he was already a champion cheese-maker when he left Holland and came to Canada in 1995.  He had fully intended to leave cheese-making behind … Continue reading.

Fresh Goat Cheese – Chèvre

Originally posted July 4, 2013.  Reposted for Eat Alberta.

Fresh homemade goat cheeseWhen I was little there were only two types of cheese: cheddar and marble cheddar.  This was in Ontario, in the 1990s.  Most meals were accompanied by a small plate of pickles and orange cheddar.

Anemic, industrial versions of two classic French cheeses were my first glimpses into the wider world of cheese.  One was “Brie”, and the other “Goat cheese.”  Both were vapid compared to the samples I would eat later in life, but I remember them because they were so different from the blockish, pressed, firm-textured cheddar of my youth.  They were both bland and comforting, yet they both had very interesting textures in their own rights: the Brie … Continue reading.

Ice Cream

Homemade ice cream ready for the freezer.The short version of this post goes like this: remember when we made crème anglaise?  That sauce made from milk, cream, and sugar, flavoured with vanilla and thickened with egg yolks, gently cooked on a double-boiler?  If you put that sauce into a well-chilled household ice cream churn, you can make pretty good ice cream.

The long version of this post is more like this:

There are two broad styles of ice cream: Philadelphia and French.  Philly ice cream typically contains only milk, cream, and sugar, while French ice cream also contains eggs.  In fact, the crème anglaise we made last week is very, very similar to some recipes for French ice cream mix.  The only difference is that … Continue reading.

Burnt Cream – Crème Brûlée

Busting into a crème brûléeWhile crème brûlée is immediately identifiable by the crust of burnt sugar on top, the custard itself has a very particular consistency and flavour.  Since it is eaten out of a ramekin, it can have a much softer, moister curd that, say, crème caramel, which is unmolded on to a plate and is therefore firmer, and eggier.

In fact crème brûlée used to be even more moist than it is now.  According to Harold McGee, crème brûlée used to be completely liquid, like crème anglaise, and was poured into a very shallow dish, dusted with sugar, and burnt. Before blowtorches became the norm the burnt crust was made by taking a heavy, metal plate out of some very … Continue reading.

Clarified Butter

A jar of radiant, clarified butter.Clarified butter is butter from which water and milk solids like protein and sugar have been removed to leave pure milk fat.  As the name implies, it has a radiant clarity.  As the proteins have been removed, it can be heated to frying temperatures without burning.

Clarifying butter is simple.  If you gently heat butter in a pot, this is what happens:

  • The milk fat becomes liquid.
  • The water content begins to evaporate, gently bubbling to the surface.
  • The light whey proteins form a foam on the surface.  Once the water content has been driven off, this foam dries and forms a crackly skin.
  • The heavier casein proteins coagulate and fall to the bottom of the pot.

If you skim … Continue reading.

Whipped Cream

Attendez la crème![1]

-Col. Hans Landa

 

A bowl of whipped creamThough whipped cream has been around for hundreds of years, it took two relatively modern inventions for it to become as common as it is now.

One is the wire whisk.  Before this tool was invented, cooks used cumbersome bundles of sticks or straw.  More important for the future of whipped cream, though, was the invention of the mechanical cream separator.  The traditional way to separate cream from milk is to let the fresh milk stand for several hours.  Fattier bits will float to the top, and the cream skimmed from the surface will typically be about 25% fat.  Mechanical separators use centrifugal forces and are able to produce cream with a … Continue reading.

Homemade Malted Milk

A malted milkshakeMalt has an amazing flavour, one that sits at the nexus of sweet and savoury: its aroma simultaneously evokes caramel and green grass.

Outside of brewing, one comes across malt in odd, far-flung corners of the culinary world.  It is somewhat common in bread baking: in the form of malt extract and maltodextrin it is sometimes added to bagels and pretzels.  It is used a lot in modernist kitchens.  The Copenhagen landmark Noma uses maltodextrixin to make an edible substance that looks like topsoil (yum).  I’ve never seen the recipe, but I’m confident that Milk Bar in New York uses some form of malt in their famous cereal milk ice cream.  And of course there are malted milkshakes, which everyone … Continue reading.