Tag Archives: sauce

A question for chef-types

If butter is made from cream, then why is it “unofficially” improper to add cream to a buerre blanc?

Just curious.


Beurre Blanc

This weeks recipe makes me wonder how the heck the French have less of a problem with heart attacks than the United States. Beurre Blanc is a butter sauce made with a lot of butter. One pound to be precise. Sure there’s a bit of a white wine/shallot reduction, but that’s simply a distraction from the main ingredient.

Butter.

Did I mention that there’s a lot of butter in this dish?

Much like a great many recipes, there’s a decent story on how Beurre Blanc was discovered. About.com gives the details:

The story takes place around the turn of the century in the kitches of château of the Marquis de Goulaine. His kitchen staff was preparing for an important dinner under the direction of his head cuisinière Madame Clémence Lefeuvre. She was very busy preparing the pike and asked an assistant to make a bérnaise sauce, which she liked to serve with the fish. The assistant forgot to add the tarragon and the egg yolks but there was no time to start over, so Clémence decided to serve the sauce as it was. After the meal, the Marquis asked Clémence to come into the dining room where of course she expected to be reprimanded. Instead, he praised her new preparation and gave it the name of “beurre blanc”. Clémence soon took her new creation and opened her own auberge. Although they can’t agree on the actual birthplace of the sauce, both will tell you that the inclusion of cream is not an “authentic” beurre blanc.

As for what kind of white wine to use, I’d use a sweeter wine, to contrast nicely against the tart of the vinegar. Anything too oakey might be a tad odd to the taste.

  • 4 oz shallots, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 lb unsalted butter, chilled and chopped into 1″ cubes
  • Salt and (white) pepper to taste

Place the shallots, vinegar and white wine in a sauce pan over medium heat. Reduce the wine/vinegar concoction to somewhere between 75-90% of its initial volume.

Turn the heat to high and add the butter all at once. Continously whisk the sauce until all the butter has melted. Be careful here as there is a point of no return where if you heat the sauce too long it will break down into a sort of “infused” clarified butter. Once you get the point where the sauce is creamy in consistency yet still opaque, remove it from the heat.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over your favorite fish.

Technorati Tags: Recipes, sauce, Beurre Blanc


Guacamole

This is one of the easiest recipes to make, and quite possibly one of the oldest on the planet. The Aztecs referred to guacamole as ahuaca-mulli which translates roughly to avocado sauce or avocado mixture. So points off for creativity in the naming of guacamole.

There are as many ways to make guacamole as there are ways to make salsa. If you get the “mash the heck out of Avocados” down, you’re well on your way to making a decent recipe. Some folks enjoy salt in their guacamole, others sugar, and still others do both. Count me in on the salt side of the equation.

One quick note here: There’s little to no reason why you can’t make your own guacamole. If you feel the need to buy pre-made guac, please, please, please, smack yourself out of it.

  • 2 medium Hass Avocados, cut in half and seeded
  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice
  • zest from 1/2 lime
  • 2 serrano chiles, seeded and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/8 cup cilantro, minced

Place the meat of the avocados in a medium mixing bowl. Using a potato masher (or barring that, a fork), mash the avocados into a paste.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Serves 4-6

Technorati Tags: Food and Drink, Recipes, Guacamole,


Anchovy Sauce

Anchovy Sauce

Now here’s a sauce I can get behind. People either love or hate these little fishies, and I fall directly into the former category.

That’s why I was so thrilled when I came across this recipe from Mark Bittman’s “The Best Recipes of the World“. As I read the recipe, the one thought that came to my mind was — Anchovy Sauce: An idea whose time has come.

I did have to alter the recipe a bit (again) in order to make it work. Mr. Bittman forgot to mention just how much canned tomatoes one should use. For the record, anywhere between 1/2 to 3/4 of a 14oz can should work nicely.

As for the picture above, let me do a pre-emptive apology. The sauce seems to be camouflaged. But it is there. It’s the reddish-orange paste on top of the reddish-orange breaded chicken breast.

  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 8 anchovy fillets, minced
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 large tomato, diced (or 3/4 of a 14oz can of diced tomatoes, drained)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Place a small sauce pan over medium low heat. Add the oil and bring to temperature. Add the garlic and cook until lightly browned. Add the anchovy fillets and cook for 1-2 minutes, to the point where it looks like the fillets appear to be dissolving.

Add the vinegar. Raise the temperature to medium. Reduce the sauce by half. Mix in the tomatoes and lower the heat to medium-low. Allow to cook for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.

Place the sauce into a mixing bowl. Blend with a mixing wand.

Serve hot over poultry or fish.

Technorati Tags: Food, Recipe, Italian Cuisine, Anchovy Sauce


Pesto

pesto

I received a very nice e-mail today, in which it was noted that I seem to love my pasta.

Guilty as charged.

In this vein, as well as the fact that this recipe is Ligurian in its history, it seemed only appropriate to post a decent pesto recipe.

Pesto is said to be the oldest sauce on the planet, a claim which I neither agree nor disagree with. It is named after its method of preparation: pestatura (grinding) of leaves and other ingredients with mortar and pestle. Which is to say, if the sauce were made today, it’d be called a Processo, after the grinding of leaves and other ingredients with a food processor.

However, there are those who claim that mortar and pestle is the only way to go. The old pestle in wood squashed the leaves, destroying the fibres, thanks to the rotating movement given by the wrist of the person preparing the sauce. Thus “smeared” the basil gave up all its flavour.

Today’s modern food mixers, when they cut the leaves, block the ends of the veins and prevent their flavour from being released; added to this there is the heat produced by the high speed of the blades, which causes the aromatic oils to evaporate and alter.

I do not know how true this is, but should be at least considered when making pesto. Unless you’re a bit lazy, like myself, and head straight to the mixer.

  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 ounces of basil, with stems
  • 4 Tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 2/3 cup olive oil

Pulse the garlic and pine nuts in a food processor until they are well combined and have formed a bit of a nutty paste. Salt, to taste.

Add a handfull of basil at a time, pulsing it into the paste. Continue this process until you have added all of the basil.

Pour basil into a mixing bowl, and whisk in the add the Parmesan cheese. Whisk the olive oil, pouring the oil in slowly. You can add a bit of the oil in at a time if needed.

To use, add to pasta in a large pasta bowl after pasta has completed cooking.

Serves 4


Our Readers are the Best! v 2 – Marsala Sauce

A few weeks ago, I did a recipe for Turkey Marsala. A day or so later, I recieved and e-mail from Hayley, asking me how one could go about making the sauce a little more lighter and a little less buttery.

I told her I wasn’t sure that butter could be effectively replaced, especially the second time it’s added to the sauce.

Hayley, showing herself to be a far better investigative food reporter than myself, took it as a challenge to find an answer. This is what she later sent to me:

Hi again Kate,

Well, I did some experimenting, and it was much as you said. I tried once with the orginal butter-only, and that was quite delish. :) I tried again with olive oil only… and, well, markedly inferior. I am a sort of olive oil snob, and I used good stuff too, but it just
doesn’t quite have the same mellow nuttiness. The closest way I can think to describe the difference is that you get a plesantly “browned” flavor with the butter, but with the oil, well, it tastes still “green” if that makes any sense. I think part of it lies in
that a good extra virgin seems to me to have a “brightness” that I can only guess comes from acidity, and it just clashes with the marsala. It’s all wrong. Butter is mellow with the marasla so it work. And it is quite a bit thinner. In the case of the olive oil, I made up a batch of jasmine rice and had it all smothered over, so in truth I didn’t mind too much that the sauce was a good bit runnier than the orginal version. I did reserve a bit and try thickening it, but I can taste the corn starch (I know they say you’re not supposed
to be able to, but I do), and it ruins it in my opinion. Maybe arrow root would be better, but I didn’t have any on hand.

However, lastly I tried the “hybrid” version. I swapped out my favorite extra virgin for a late-press light olive oil and used that for the browning because it has a much milder flavor. Then, for the sauce, I went for the butter. I got pretty much the same nutty
mellow point against the marsala of the all-butter version. It was slightly thicker in the original, but truely if I hadn’t tasted the original I would not have thought ti would be much of a difference having tried it this way. I think the trick is keeping the butter at
the end, and using a lighter olive oil. Seems a nice compromise — nearly all the flavor for half the animal fat! Still a tidge runny, but I plated it over jasmine rice again and found it delightful as is.

Hayley

For those of you who simply glossed over thios post, Hayley’s point was this: The recuipe used in the Turkey Marsala post is good, but if you wanted to lose a bit of the fat caused by all the butter, you can use this recipe:

  • 3 Tablespoons late-press light olive oil
  • 16-20 leaves of fresh sage
  • 1 cup Marsala wine
  • 4 Tablespoons butter (salted)
  • salt and pepper to taste


Broccoli with Sauce Crème

Broccoli with Sauce Crème

Ah yes, much better. When things get difficult, head towards simplicity. This recipe? It’s all about simplicity.

You can either Steam the broccoli or boil it for two minutes. Either way, you will want to make the Sauce Crème first.

Note that Sauce Crème is a béchamel with heavy cream added. Fairly straightforward.

  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Tablespoons AP Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium/medium-low heat. Whisk flour to create a fully formed roux. Add milk, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing together slowly, ensuring a velvety texture.

Add cream in the same manner as the milk. Flavor with salt and pepper. Add lemon juice and mix well.

Spoon over freshly cooked broccoli.