Tag Archives: sauces


It is worth making Hollandaise yourself from time to time, if only to remember how sinful it is. My arteries are hardening as I type, but I feel very little guilt, so probably just the espresso talking.

I don’t think I can add much to the recipes given by Delia, Pomiane or Nigel, but it is useful to illustrate how it fits into the rest of the proceedings, essentially an exercise in multitasking. (Quantities for sauce make enough to serve 2, maybe 3.)

Time Sauce Steak Frites
00:00 3 tbsp white wine vinegar, six black peppercorns lightly crushed, 1 tbsp finely chopped onion and a bay leaf into a small saucepan on a low heat to reduce. Rub the steak in olive oil, roll in black pepper, and leave at room temperature. Get the oven going. My frites need 180ºC.
00:02 Get another small saucepan, half fill with water, and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, chop up 150g unsalted butter into half inch cubes, put somewhere near the oven or stove to soften up.
00:03 Hardly any liquid in the vinegar saucepan, but give it a swirl from time to time.
00:04 Separate two eggs, and put the yolks into a glass bowl, which you’re going to put on top of the saucepan with the water in it. Put the fries in the oven.
00:05 Once the water has boiled, reduce temp to the merest simmer.
00:06 Place glass bowl with yolks on top of simmering water, add the strained contents of the other saucepan (should only be a tbsp left) and start whisking, slowly, gently, continuously, adding the butter a few pieces at a time. If the butter melts really quickly, remove bowl from water, and keep whisking, add more butter, and only return to heat when new butter stops melting. If you’re using a cast iron griddle to do your steak, now would be a good time to put it on a low heat to warm up.
00:10 Once all butter is incorporated, keep whisking. Test the temperature with your little finger, if you can comfortably leave your finger in the sauce it’s too cold, if there’s pain, it’s too hot.
00:12 The sauce will start to thicken. Turn the heat off, and keep whisking.
00:13 Keep whisking. Slap the steak in the pan.
00:15 Keep whisking. Turn the steak and salt. Check the frites. If they’re done, pop them onto some kitchen towelling to drain.
00:17 Keep whisking. Turn the steak again.
00:18 Keep whisking. And again.
00:19 And serve. And serve. And serve.

A green salad if you must.



Let’s go for the easy one. You will need:

  • 500mL milk
  • 25g butter
  • 25g flour
  • a quarter of a nutmeg
  • a bay leaf
  • salt/pepper

Bring the milk almost to the boil in a saucepan, and then turn off the heat, and add the nutmeg and bay leaf. Allow to cool: doesn’t matter if it’s cold, but it won’t work if it’s hot by the time you add it to the roux.

On the business of nutmeg, I would avoid the pre-ground stuff, and buy whole nutmegs instead. You can then grate them on the spot, using the end of the cheese grater you’d normally use for Parmesan. I’d use between a quarter and half a nutmeg for this recipe.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan and gradually stir in the flour to make a roux. The roux needs to be cooked gently for about two minutes, stirring gently but constantly. A flat ended wooden spoon is helpful at this point.

Don’t be tempted to cook the roux for more than that, as the flour will release too much starch, and your sauce will resemble concrete. Mind you, an under-cooked roux will cause the sauce to taste floury and horrid. If you see any brown spots appearing, then turn the heat down, and try to pick them out. Black spots really mean you need to start again.

You then need to add the milk to the roux. Start by adding about 50mL and stir like crazy. The contents of the pan will go horrid, but after a bit of stirring, the milk will be absorbed, and the consistency should smooth out. Add more milk, maybe 100mL this time, and again, blend in. Once you’ve gotten as far as having added half the milk, you can add the rest in one go, but the moral of this story is to start out small.

Now, you should have a saucepan of liquid that is – oh dear! – no thicker than ordinary milk, but hopefully the lumps will have been all eliminated in the previous stage. Now turn up the heat and stir: again gently but constantly, scraping the spoon across the bottom to stop anything from catching . It will start to thicken as it comes to the boil. Turn the heat off and keep stirring for about a minute, and then you’re done. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sometimes it doesn’t work out, and you end up with something resembling porridge. If you’re putting this into lasagne, nobody will notice.

Fancy Stuff

You could also put a small to medium peeled onion in the hot milk, and even stick a few whole cloves into the onion. Obviously that’s just there to flavour everything, and doesn’t go into the finished sauce!

Tomato Goop

Just to be clear about Monday night’s procedure. The resulting goop can then be used as the basis for soup, pasta sauce, lasagne, parmagiana di melanzane, chilli con carne, etc. Very useful to divide into lots and freeze.

You will need:

  • 50-100g pancetta (if the butcher tells you that he don’t have owt of that foreign muck, then just ask for dry cured belly bacon instead; it’s the same thing, and has less of a mark up)
  • one large or two medium onions
  • half a bunch of celery
  • half a dozen medium sized carrots
  • 800g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • half a litre of hot vegetable stock (i.e. boil the jug and use some Marigold Boullion)
  • 2 bay leaves, salt, pepper, butter, olive oil

Do the following:

  1. Dice the pancetta and put it directly into a large pot on a low heat; just hot enough so that it makes a soft sizzling noise. Keep an eye on it, and stir occasionally whilst you’re chopping the veg. You want the pancetta to darken (but not go dark brown or black!) and the fat to run off. If a few bits stick and a bit of a light brown glaze appears on the bottom of the pan, don’t worry.
  2. Chop up the veg into about 1cm pieces – sorry about the vague quantities above, but we want to end up with roughly the same amount of onion, celery and carrot. (Some supermarkets do bags of pre-prepped soffritto, which is a time saver, but often very wet, so you may need to be patient when you fry it.)
  3. The pancetta should be done in about 5 mins, so throw in the veg, add a pinch of salt, turn up the heat, and add enough oil/butter so that they’re coated, but there’s none pooling at the bottom of the pot. Less is more in this case.
  4. Fry the veg for about 5 mins, until translucent. If the onion gets a bit gold about the edges, and if more stuff sticks to the bottom, even better, as long as it doesn’t go black.
  5. Whilst the veg are going, get the stock ready and hot.
  6. Sprinkle over a tablespoon of plain flour and stir furiously, so the flour coats the vegetables, doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, and gets cooked.
  7. After about a minute of mad stirring, turn down the heat, pour in about a quarter of the stock and blend in, and then add the rest. There should now be nothing left sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  8. Add the tinned tomatoes, bay leaves, and pepper.
  9. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the mix reduce for about half an hour.