Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Ile flottante - madártej


It is the kids favorite. It was mine too when I was a kid... but I never got the chance to make it with anybody, so I just had to start doing it on my own, without any proper guidelines.
I always thought it must be difficult to make as people were sayin' you should be very cautious about not to over boil the egg yolk, or it will taste like an omelet floating in milk. Yak.. And surely I DID manage to over boil it once, and it did taste like an omelet, but that wasn't the problem, the problem was I always made ~7 litres at once, so there you go, hush, 5 litres of milk, 0.5 kg sugar and 50 eggs going down the toilet. :(
However I learned how not to over boil it ever, anymore.
It became the easiest dessert one can make, the only difficulty we still have is waiting for the cream to cool down. Just takes waaaaay to long (unless one is risking ruining the freezer and puts the cream in it). I call it cream, but it is liquid, like a maple syrup, or something, if you wanna compare the texture in your imagination..
Madártej is "bird milk", suggesting that you have the little white birds sitting in a cup of yellow milk :). In french is "floating island", where the egg white is the island. You call it as you wish..

Ingredients (makes 4-6 portions), preparation time 20 min (+cooling time)
1 litres (4 cups) whole milk
10 eggs yolks (keep the eggs at room temperature for at least 0.5 day)
100-150 g sugar (3.5 - 5.2 ounce), icing if you have, but castor is good too, (I like it less sweet)
1 vanilla bean
1/2 tsp rum aroma (optional) 

For the birds (islands)
~3-4 egg whites
0.5 litre (2 cups) milk

Separate the egg yolks, and save the egg whites...
Whisk the egg yolks well together with the sugar, except ~1 flat tbsp sugar. We will use that to make a harder egg white. Use a bit larger bowl than needed, you'll see why later..
Cut the vanilla bean in two, scratch out the tiny seeds, keep the husk.
Bring the milk in a pot to boil with the vanilla seeds, and the husk. When boiling remove it from the heat (remove the vanilla husks), lower the heat, start pouring slowly! the hot milk into the egg yolk-sugar mix, stirring continuously. When nice and smooth pour the cream back in the pot, put it back to the low heat and let it thicken for ~5 min, stirring continuously. DO NOT BOIL IT anymore.
Yeah, I know, takes a bit of stirring, but not to worry about, is all done in 10 minutes :). DO NOT keep it on the fire until you find it thick enough, it will further thicken while it cools down.
After 5 min remove from heat, add the rum aroma if you chose to add (I don't add 'cause my kids don't like it), and let it cool down, stirring occasionally not to have the skin formed on top.
Meanwhile beat the egg whites with the 1 tbsp sugar (beat them until they look almost good without the sugar first, it will be better, should be a hard whipped egg white), bring the milk to boil, start scooping nice oval shaped egg whites into the boiling milk. As soon as you drop them in the milk let them "cook" for 5 seconds, turn them to the other side, boil for additional 5 sec, remove to a plate with a spoon (with holes, preferably), carefully not to take milk with the "birds" or they will moisten in the plate.
Let them dry on the plate until the cream ("bird milk", the "ocean") is cold enough for serving.
Serve the cold cream (the "bird milk") with one "bird"  floating on top. Enjoy.
Usually one "bird" is not enough to finish the cream, so keep some more on the table..

The French serve the "ocean" with the island floating on top, and pour strains of caramel syrup and roasted almond slices. I ate Ile flottante a la French in Paris, but I didn't like the caramel on top, 'guess one just sticks to what Grandma used to make :).
I have some other optional flavor add-ons instead that I prefer, come and taste my variations in my own kitchen :) or even better, experiment with your own.

Suggestion
1. Do not try to boil the whole bunch of egg whites, after scooping several nice birds you'll have some left on the sides of the bowl that can't be so nicely scooped. You choose whether you have some scrambled birds (nothing wrong with the taste), or just stick to the nice ones and wash the leftover egg white away. 
2. You can strain the milk used to boil the birds and use it for a hot chocolate, or if you choose so you can make the birds first, strain the milk and use it for the cream.
I actually never do. I make at once few "birds" only, store the milk (egg whites, and the leftover cream) in the fridge and just reuse it next day to make more birds, as the birds can not be stored for long. They either get hard or collapse, depends how much you cooked them..

PS. Sorry for the poor pic, I just couldn't make any better, the camera was always out of focus Maybe next time..

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