Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dulce De Leche (Argentinean Caramel)

Dulce De Leche is one of those ingredients that permeates so much of Argentine cooking. A huge amount of sweets, cakes, biscuits have dulce de leche as an element of their deliciousness!

It can be difficult to buy dulce de leche but there is a handy way to make it.

Buy a can of Nestle condensed milk (this just happens to be the brand that I have only ever used and was the only one I saw my mum use so have stuck to a tried and tested ingredient!).

Take the paper wrapper off the tin.

Boil a large pan of water. It is best to use an old pan which you wont cook with again - my mum tol me this is because the tin can release elements into the pan you don't necesarrily want to cook with later... I have always trusted that theory and bought a cheap $5 pan from the store just for this purpose.

Once the water is boiled place the tins of dulce the leche in the boiled water. You MUST ensure that the cans are constantly covered with water. I leave a boiled pot of water ready to keep topping up the pan of water as it evaporates. You should leave the Dulce de Leche boiling for 3.5 hours. The longer you leave it the darker it becomes.

Once finished carefully pour out the water and leave the cans to cool. Once the cans are cool enough to pick up, place in the fridge. If you are making dulce de leche to use in a cake or for Alfajores, you should make it the day before to allow it to cool down and caramelise properly. When the caramel is hot or warm, it can become very gooey and it is not easy to work with.

In over 35 years of my mum making dulce de leche in Australia I have never heard of any problems, although there are people who believe that the cans can explode. Please be careful making the caramel and do so at your own risk... most important tip - keep topping up that water and make sure the cans are always covered with water in the pot.

You can see the live recipe now on Cocina de Mama's YouTube Channel!

Cocinar, comer y ser feliz!

Trencitas - Bread Plaits with Cheese

On hot summer days in Sydney when the thought of a big meal was too much Mum would make small bites that we could pick at. One snack favourite was always the cheese plaits. The cheese plaits are a slight variation of the Argentinean 'Trencitas' which are actually fried instead of oven baked...and the trencitas mum made had cheese sprinkled in the mixture - which made it awfully yummy! I remember quite vividly helping to grate the cheese whilst mum made the trencitas mixture and I couldn't wait until it was time to make the plaits - it was something I could really help with I had so much practice with my dolls! And of course - I made sure my hair was plaited when I help make them...(!)

Trencitas with Cheese


  • 125g butter, melted
  • 2 1/4 cups of self raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of castor sugar
  • 90g grated tasty cheese
  • 1 cup of evaoporated milk
Pre-heat oven to 220 degrees.
Pour melted butter into a square cake tin. Place to the side.
In another bowl combine self raising flour, salt, sugar and cheese. Add evaporated milk and mix together to make a stiff dough. If you find that your dough is too moist or not stiff enough, add a little more of the flour until just right.
Roll out on a lightly floured surface to roughy 1 cm thickness. Cut into slices of 4 (about 10 cm wide).
Take each slice and cut into 3 strips within 1 cm of the end (leave a little at the end to hold the plait together).
Plait the strips.
Dip the plaits on both sides in the melted butter then arrange side by side in the baking tin. Bake the plaits in the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.

You can see this recipe made live on Cocina de Mama's YouTube channel.

Cocinar, comer y ser feliz!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Pasta Frola - Quince Tart

Growing up the house was always filled with incredible aromas from the kitchen. Mum was always pottering about making mouth watering dinners and delicious treats would always emerge without the hint of effort and always a smile... as an adult I know how much effort it actually took to make those magic moments happen!

One of the favourites that used to emerge from the oven at least once a month was Pasta Frola... a delicious quince filled tart that will leave your mouth watering. It is a real traditional afternoon tea cake which you will find in most Argentine homes - there is always one family member who makes an amazing Pasta Frola! On my recent trip back to Argentina my cousin Alejandra is the new Queen of the Pasta Frola making delicious variations and of course the classic recipe that you'll find here.

Pasta Frola

  • 2 cups of self raising flour
  • 1/2 cup of white sugar
  • 125 grams of butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 1/2 kilo of quince jam
  • 2 tablespoons of hot water
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees (gas).
Sift 2 cups of self raising flour in a bowl and mix in 1/2 cup of sugar.
Place in 125 grams of butter (do not melt the butter). With a fork or using your fingers work the butter through the flour and sugar mixture. It will feel grainy - that's okay. Try to break it down as much as you can into the mixture until you can no longer feel large peices of butter in the mixture.
Mix in 3 egg yolks in with 2 tablespoons of milk. Mix until it becomes dough like. If the mixture is too dry add a little more milk or if too wet add a little more self raising flour as needed. Cover bowl with a tea towel or some plastic wrap and leave the dough to settle somewhere cool for 15 minutes (fridge is fine).
Take a baking tin (20cm tin should be fine for this recipe traditionally usually round - but rectangle pasta frola's are just as great!) and line with butter and flour to ensure your dough does not stick to the mould.
Take the dough out of the fridge and roll flat on a well floured surface so your dough doesn't stick to the table top.
Once you have a good 1/2cm thick dough rolled out gently place the dough over your cake tin and carefully mold into the shape of the tin lining the bottom and sides. Any left over dough cut out and keep for use to decorate the top of your tart. Don't worry if your dough tears or breaks - just fill and patch as you need.
In a separate bowl take the quince jam and mix with 2 tablespoons of hot water and make into a paste.
Once the quince is ready fill your dough lined tin with the quince so that it reaches just under the rim.
With the extra dough you had left over - roll out and cut into strips and criss cross over the top of the quince and gently curl the end of the dough strip as you reach the top rim of the tin.
With the egg yolk and milk mixture gently paint the top of the dough to create that lovely golden colour.
Place in the oven and cook for 20mins or until golden brown.
Don't panic if you have too much quince or not enough dough - remember you can always make a little more! if you have too much dough left over make some mini tarts - everything can be used and modified :) don't be afraid to experiment - some of the best discoveries and treats were made when mum made mistakes or got her mixtures wrong! There were certianly always special little mini tarts or funny quince filled blobs from extra bits of dough!

You can see the live recipe on Cocina de Mama's YouTube Channel.

Cocinar, comer y ser feliz!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Just Like Mum Used to Make

Welcome to Cocina de Mama - Mum's Kitchen... a repository of the old recipes that have been scribbled in yellowing notebooks, in various languages and added to by various generations of Argentinean women in my family... and more importantly eaten and enjoyed by hundreds over the years!

I'll add new recipes every week and I'd love to hear from you about your favourite recipes passed down from mums, dads, aunts, uncles grandfathers and grandmothers... As a historian I would love to keep the wonderful art of cooking and generational traditions alive...

Please feel free to email me your recipes with a photo or story behind the recipe if you would like to add to the blog!

Cocinar, comer y ser feliz!


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