Showing posts with label Dubai. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dubai. Show all posts

Monday, May 18, 2015

Creamy Camel Milk Caramel

Cooked in the traditional long slow simmering way of dulce de leche or cajeta, this rich caramel is made with camel’s milk, said to be a healthy alternative to cow’s milk and better tolerated by folks with allergies. Here's one fact: It is deliciously creamy. 

I have been known to do a little happy dance when the farmer’s market in Houston still has some goat’s milk left because usually all of their bottles are spoken for, by regular customers. But sometimes I get lucky. And one of my favorite things about living in Singapore was the goat farm where I could go and buy the milk directly from the, ahem, producers. Homemade soft cheese made with goat’s milk is the best. When we moved to Dubai a couple of years ago, I discovered that one could buy camel’s milk in the grocery store, which intrigued me but somehow I never got around to buying any.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, at the first birthday celebration of Food e Mag dxb, an online magazine to which I’ve been a contributor (It’s gorgeous! Do go have a look!) I met a Dubai-based cookbook author who has a weekly show on local talk radio. I regularly listen to Suzanne Husseini  on 103.8 FM Thursday mornings from 10 a.m. – noon, because her topic is one of my favorites, food! Since the party was on a Wednesday evening, nosy parker that I am, I had to ask what the focus would be for the next day’s show. And because she’s a sweet person, Suzanne didn’t tell me to buzz off. She said it would be camel milk.

That's Suzanne in the hat, and me, on the right, with our Food e Mag dxb's editors Debbie Rogers and Ishita B Saha.. 

I learned so much from that show! Do you know that the farmer cannot separate the camels from their calves, as we do to cows, or they’ll stop producing milk? Also, the top producers only make between 5 and 20 liters a day vs. 40 liters from top producing cows. Camels are not mature enough to be mated until they are four years old and they carry their babies for more than 13 months before giving birth. Compare that to cows that can mate at 13-15 months old and have a gestation of nine and a half months. Or goats that can be bred at seven months old and that give birth after only five months! So, why would a farmer choose to raise camels for milk? It will come as no surprise to learn that camels are uniquely suited to the dry environment here and, while they don’t produce as much milk, they also don’t need as much water as other dairy animals would.

Camel milk doesn’t coagulate as easily as goat or cow milk so I decided that cheese would not be my first foray into using it. Instead, I decided to try making cajeta – that sticky sweet caramelized condensed milk usually made with goat’s milk. Or if bought in a can as dulce de leche, cow’s milk. Make this on a slow day when you are going to be home for a few hours anyway because it has to cook long and low. Mine took almost three hours.

Adapted from this recipe on Pati’s Mexican Table.

Ingredients – yields about 1 1/4 cups or 300ml creamy camel milk caramel
4 1/4 cups or 1 liter camel milk
3/4 cup or 175g demerara sugar
1  1/2 teaspoons  vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon flakey salt or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt or to taste

Pour your sugar, vanilla and baking soda into a large thick-bottomed pot with the milk and heat gently over a medium flame, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved.

Let it come to a slow boil and then turn it right down, or add a diffuser under the pot. I had other things going on at home that day and I was afraid the milk might scorch so I used the diffuser.

These are great for making sure the rice at the bottom of the pot doesn't burn either. 

If you are a thermometer-using type, I kept one in the pot and the temperature stayed between 165-180°F or 74-82°C.

Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until the milk reduces by at least half and starts to turn a warm golden color.

Keep a closer eye on it now and stir more often. The camel milk caramel is done when a spoon pulled through the liquid shows the bottom of the pot for a few brief moments before running together again. It should be a deep golden color.

Put a metal teaspoon in a clean jar and pour the caramel in. Remove the spoon and seal tightly.

Still pourable

The caramel will thicken considerably when refrigerated and will keep for several months.

Cold, it's pretty stiff.
This is great over ice cream or spread on bread or simply eaten with a spoon. Tomorrow I'll be sharing an Egyptian cookie recipe using it as well.


Update: Here are the basbousa using the camel milk caramel!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Banana Honey Muffins #MuffinMonday

We are coming up on six months in the desert and it occurred to me that I haven’t really shared that much about life here.   At least not like I feel I did when we were in Cairo.  I guess it is that Dubai is such a modern city that it doesn’t feel that different in many ways, from other places we have lived.   My neighborhood is surrounded by vast desert wasteland with little in the way of plants besides natural scrub.

But, inside the walls of this gated community, we enjoy green lawns and flowering plants in abundance.

The view from my kitchen window.

A different angle of the backyard.

Supermarkets have everything we need, including bacon and cheese, and even some things we just want like fresh flowers, Wilton baking supplies and Jif peanut butter.   I know, I know, some of you are saying that bacon and cheese are “wants” not “needs” but then you must not know me very well yet.  :)  After Cairo with its limited supply of green leafy vegetables, I am working on not getting spoiled by choice and trying to choose fresh foods that haven’t been flown in from the other side of the world with a long carbon footprint to match.

Overwhelmed for choice.

Every item is labeled with the country of its provenance, which is very helpful.

One thing I did get in Egypt and for which I am very grateful, were two bottles of wonderful honey, which were a gift from the Orthodox priests we visited on a charity trip.  I haven’t found anything to match it here yet.   It’s lovely runny stuff, produced by religious bees.  (Just kidding.)  But it does make delicious muffins.   I reminisce with gratitude every time I use it.

2 cups or 250g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup or 115g sugar
2 large bananas (ripe)
2 eggs
1/4 cup or 60ml canola or other light oil
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup or 120ml milk

2 tablespoons or 30g butter (softened)
1/4 cup or 25g oats
1 pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons honey

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your 12-cup muffin tin by greasing it or lining it with paper muffin cups.

Combine your flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and sugar in a large mixing bowl.

In another small bowl, mashed your ripe bananas with a fork.

Then whisk together your bananas, eggs, canola oil, honey and milk.

In a separate small bowl, mix together your first four topping ingredients until smooth.  Add in the honey and stir well.

Pour your egg/milk mixture into your dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.

Divide the muffin batter between the muffin cups.

Top each cup of batter with a scoop of the topping and spread it out just a little with your spoon.

Bake in your preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  The topping will form a natural slightly crunchy glaze on each muffin.

Allow to cool for a few minutes in the pan and then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Grouper with Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic Lemon Crème Fraîche

Hello from Dubai!

You know that song that goes, walking on sunshine, whoa oh?  That’s me.  Despite working on a sleep deficit, yesterday went like a dream.  We arrived in Dubai and fell into the hotel bed with time enough for just two hours of sleep before waking up to meet the real estate agent at the house for the Great Key Handover.  Lordy, mercy, there are a lot of keys for our new house!  Then the airfreight arrived and I was reunited with my Kenwood mixer.  And then the rental furniture was delivered so as soon as we buy and get a stove and refrigerator installed, we can move in!

But the best part was my trip to what will be MY GROCERY STORE.  It’s right near the house and I walked through like the bumpkin from the country just arriving in the big, bright city for the first time.  It is part of the Géant chain, which has ties to the hypermarket Casino in France and is gorgeously laid out with most everything a person could hope to want.  The first thing I spied were some baby tomatoes on the vine and my brain said, “Roast them and set them on top of something like fish or chicken.”  So I went off in search of fresh fish and found some lovely grouper filets.  At which point my brain said, “You need crème fraîche and lemons and garlic.”  And low and behold, all those things could be mine.  I rounded off the menu with some rocket or arugula tossed in a simple lemon vinaigrette.   I am cooking in the small kitchen in my hotel apartment so the photos aren’t the best, but this was one delicious and easy meal.

Small piece of fresh lemon
1 clove garlic
Olive oil
2 heaping tablespoons crème fraîche or mild sour cream
1 branch on-the-vine tomatoes per every two fish filets
1 Grouper or other white fish filet per person
Flakey sea salt  (I use Maldon’s.)
Crushed red pepper
Black pepper (I didn’t have any but you should definitely use some.)

Preheat your oven to 400°F or 200°C.

Finely mince your garlic and put it in a small bowl with the crème fraîche and a healthy pinch of salt.

Cut the end off of the lemon and squeeze the juice into the garlic/crème fraîche bowl.

Add just a little olive oil, perhaps a half a teaspoon, and give it a good stir.  Refrigerate until needed.

Cut your leftover lemon peel into thin slices.

Put the tomatoes in a heatproof dish that will be big enough for your fish filets later.  Drizzle with olive oil and then sprinkle with salt and crushed red pepper.  Top with the slices of lemon peel.

Roast the tomatoes in the preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, season both sides of your fish filets with salt and black pepper (if you are fortunate enough to have remembered to buy some) and drizzle them with olive oil.

Remove the tomatoes from the oven and carefully transfer them to another dish.

Place the fish filets in the baking dish and top with the tomatoes.

Put it back in the oven and bake until the fish is opaque and cooked through, about 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of your filets.

Serve each filet with half of the tomatoes and a generous dollop of the garlic lemon crème fraîche.  If you’d like, a side green salad rounds out the meal.