Dulce de leche is a thick, creamy caramel sauce traditionally made with milk and sugar that are simmered together for seven hours. This much easier method, which calls for simmering a can of sweetened condensed milk in a pot of water for two to three hours, produces absolutely perfect results with not nearly as much time or fuss.
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Ful mudammas, stewed fava beans, is a staple dish all over the Levant. Some versions are mild mannered and comforting. This one, loaded with olive oil, lemon, garlic, cumin, and a kick of chili powder, is anything but. Serve it as a bean stew or mash up the beans and use it as a high octane dip.
Hummus is fine, but the real power legume of the Middle East is the fava bean. Ful mudammas is the Egyptian breakfast dish of favas stewed with tahini and seasoned with garlic, cumin, and lemon. This creamy, comforting version is much like what you'll find around the streets of Cairo.
As Yotam Ottolenghi says in the introduction to this recipe from his new cookbook, Plenty More, this is only vaguely reminiscent of baba ghanoush. Garlicky broiled zucchini is topped with a funky and captivating custard sauce made with goat's milk yogurt and Roquefort cheese. Finally, toasted pine nuts and a sprinkle of za'ata finishes off this "volcanic eruption" (his words) of a spread.
For this recipe from Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food, chef Jody Williams was inspired by Thomas Keller's well-loved salmon rillettes, which she learned to make during her time under him at his by-gone West Village restaurant, Rakel. With fresh and smoked salmon, crème fraîche, and horseradish, it's a rich, creamy, punchy dish that disappears quick.
Traditional spiced Belgian speculoos cookies are turned into a dangerously addictive sweet spread.
Making pounded cheese from Amy Thielen's new cookbook, The New Midwestern Table, was a jump into uncharted territory for me. Dropping blocks of gorgeous aged Cheddar into a food processor was an act of faith. But drizzled with sweet port syrup and chopped walnuts, the final dish is an entertainment-worthy appetizer for any and all cheesehounds.
This Pimento Cheese Spread from Amanda Hesser's The Essential New York Times Cookbook adds a few extra ingredients to the mix, elevating the classic Southern spread with two types of cheddar and homemade mayonnaise. The recipe calls for the cheeses to be ground in a meat grinder, which I'm sure adds a distinctly coarse texture but the large holes of a box grater or even the grating blade of a food processor work just as well.