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Saturday, November 29, 2008

What To Do With... Evaporated Milk

For my American friends, it’s Thanksgiving this weekend which means it’s turkey time. It has been several years since I have celebrated American Thanksgiving, but I think it’s a great four day holiday. Mostly because I love the rituals of Thanksgiving: rushing around the grocery store, baking pie, preparing this glorious meal and of course, coming together with friends and family. And don’t forget the post-Thanksgiving ritual of groaning with some regret, but mostly with pleasure after eating way too much turkey and stuffing, then loosening your belt to finish off the meal with a nice slice of pumpkin pie.

Evaporated milk is the ingredient of the week because it is used in one of my favourite Thanksgiving foods, pumpkin pie. I usually have several cans in my pantry because it is such a versatile product. They wait patiently to be called upon for a last minute panna cotta or when I have run out of regular stuff.

Evaporated milk is exactly what you think it is - fresh milk that has been reduced, in this case, by at least half. The result is a shelf stable product that has a rich, creamy taste. It serves a great substitute for fresh milk as well as cream. However, you cannot use evaporated milk interchangeably with cream due to difference in nutritional composition. (Think of evaporated milk as a concentrated dairy product.) I use it primarily to enrich foods where you would normally use milk or cream, when I don’t want all the calories. Additionally, the colour of evaporated milk is the palest caramel so it won’t do if you are making something that is supposed to be white.

Be sure you check the can – condensed milk, which usually makes an appearance in a smaller sized can with a pull-off tab, is not the same thing. While it is absolutely delicious, condensed milk is something else altogether.

Here’s what to do with evaporated milk.

It works as a fine substitute for milk in the following types of recipes:

1. Creamy type soups:Broccoli Potato Soup or Corn Chowder
2. Cheese sauce for broccoli or cauliflower
3. Mashed potatoes and scalloped potatoes
4. Rice pudding (It’s such an old-fashioned dessert, but I love the creaminess velvety smoothness of rice pudding that just seems to melt in your mouth. A pinch of cinnamon and oh yum.)
5. Bread pudding

Or you try something a little different:

6. Panna cotta
7. Mexican style flan – super easy, for clumsy dessert hands like me

But don’t forget the Classic Dessert Preparations:

8. Custard
9. Fudge

and of course,

10. Pumpkin pie

Enjoy giving thanks everyone!
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