Sauce Recipes

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Alison Mckee

Of all the traditional sauces re-classified at the beginning of the twentieth century as Grand Sauces or Mother Sauces the three that remain in common use today are Tomato Sauce, Hollandaise Sauce and Béchamel or white sauce and their variations.Bolognese Sauce is sometimes taken to be a tomato sauce although authentic recipes from the Bologna region of Italy have only a small amount of tomato included in the dish. Despite the lack of tomato, Bolognese sauce still remains a great dish to hide “offending” vegetables in for children. Kid’s Bolognese Sauce. Pasta Puttanesca – “pasta the way a whore would make it”- is said to have originated as a quick cheap meal that prostitutes could prepare between customers is another modern variation. Puttanesca is a tomato based sauce consisting of anchovies, capers, black olives, dried hot peppers, garlic and whole chopped tomatoes or passata (tomato puree) that results in a sauce with a hot, spicy flavour and pungent smell that some say that also contributed to the naming of the dish.

Once mastered Hollandaise Sauce will quickly become a favourite, especially as asparagus season is on the horizon. Forget going out for weekend brunch and invite your friends around and whip your own Eggs Benedict (ham), Eggs Florentine (spinach) or Eggs Pacifica (smoked salmon). Smoked Salmon on Potato Rosti with Poached Egg. Add chopped sun-dried tomatoes or fresh herbs to the finished sauce and serve immediately with broccoli and carrots or over grilled fish. Hollandaise sauce cannot be reheated or the sauce splits and the butter runs out. If left to cool the sauce solidifies into a buttery sludge. To overcome this, hold the sauce over a warm, not boiling, water bath or in a vacuum flask. Variations on this sauce include Beurre Blanc and Béarnaise Sauce.

Lasagna, Chicken and Mushroom Lasagna, Macaroni Cheese, Cauliflower Cheese, Corned Beef with Mustard or Parsley sauce are all standard Kiwi family fare. The basis of all these dishes is a Béchamel or white sauce. Béchamel and an early version of Hollandaise sauce is said to be invented in the 17th Century by French chef La Varenne. Mornay sauce, the addition of cheese, is just one derivate and other Kiwi traditional favourites include Crayfish Mornay and Scallop Mornay.

Although some dishes made with Béchamel Sauce may be considered as being stodgy when properly prepared Béchamel is creamy in flavour with no taste of flour and creamy off-white in colour. The sauce should be smooth and thick enough only to coat the back of a spoon.  Thick Béchamel is, however, the base sauce for savoury soufflés. By simply adding egg yolks, whipped egg whites, a touch of mustard and cheese the most delicate culinary creation can be baked to puffed golden perfection.


Hollandaise Sauce

6 crushed peppercorns
1 tablespoon vinegar (white wine or champagne)
2 egg yolks
200gms butter melted
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Place the peppercorns and vinegar in a small stainless steel saucepan and reduce to one third. Remove from the heat and add 1 tablespoon of cold water. Allow to cool.

Whisk in the egg yolks in a bowl and add the reduction. Place the bowl over a simmering pan of water and continue whipping until the yolks form ribbons.

Gradually add the warm melted butter whisking constantly until thoroughly combined.
Add the lemon juice and season.
The sauce should be pale lemon in colour and have a buttery smooth texture.

Note: Hollandaise Sauce is an emulsion, not quite a true mixture but a suspension of one substance in another. Take care not to add the melted butter too quickly or the sauce will curdle and split

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