A few years ago I worked for someone who is today a friend. Every morning, very early, somebody would bring coffee from the kitchen. All day I would pretend to steal cups of coffee from his office, pretend I say because he was right there in front of me. One day after one of my regular trips to the coffee pot he said “what about if we don’t pay you a salary but we allow you to work here for the free coffee?”.
He thought it was a clever joke, what he never realized is that if he had pushed hard enough I would have taken the deal. I would work for coffee.
Dominicans have a love affair with coffee. It is as part of our daily life as our Bandera Dominicana, the perfect ending for lunch, the obligatory treat to visitors, the drink of choice at wakes and part of our traditional breakfast. Visiting even the humblest home will always be an occasion for a cup of coffee,un cafecito, as we say.
Along with “un dulcito” (a little dessert), another obligatory ending to a Dominican lunch, coffee is the dot that crosses the i. We are rarely inclined to have a giant slice of cake after lunch, more like a small serving of curdled milk fudge, a small square of guava paste or something similar. And then coffee.
We usually drink our coffee black, and with sugar. Too much sugar for many people’s taste. Some people prefer to add a little nutmeg to the coffee grounds before brewing it, some prefer a touch of cinnamon.
In the campos(countryside) it is brewed using home-ground coffee brewed in a rudimentary coffee-maker. The water is boiled and the ground coffee is soaked in the boiling water. It is then strained using a cloth. The resulting coffee has a stronger aroma and taste than the coffee made with an espresso machine.
When you visit us you mustn’t miss our cafecito in the company of friends and family. And I am assuming here that every normal human being likes coffee. If you don’t, and if we ever meet, let’s be friends… keep it to yourself.
Dulce de Leche Cortada is a delicious dessert with a touch of sour. It is prepared with curdled milk and its luscious, chewy texture does not detract from its simplicity.
- 6 cups of whole milk at room temperature
- 1/2 cup of lime juice at room temperature
- 2 eggs at room temperature
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon of grated lime peels
- 1/2 teaspoon of grated orange peels
- 1/4 cups of raisins
- 1 large cinnamon stick
- Mix the milk and eggs, stirring until they are well mixed.
- Sieve to eliminate undissolved egg parts.
- Mix in cinnamon, lime and orange peels, raisins and sugar and cook in a pot over low heat.
- When it breaks a boil add the lime juice one tablespoon at a time in different spots.
- Boil without stirring unless it is sticking to the pot. The milk will eventually (about 10 mins) curdle, and chunks wiill float in thin syrup.
- Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Remove the cinnamon stick.
- Chill before serving.
Yes, you can do this without the eggs, but the texture is very different. The eggs make for soft chunks, while without it they are more chewy and dry. I definitely prefer the egg version.