Domestic dilemmas solved
Don’t be daunted by that diva demeanour – Friday’s very own chef Silvena Rowe is happy to answer all your kitchen queries
I am tired of béchamel sauce that comes out of a sachet as it does not taste the same as one made at home. But I’m scared to give it a try as I feel I might end up with something that is lumpy and pasty. Please tell me a fool-proof method of making the sauce and a way to store the extra for later use.
The secret to a perfect bechmel sauce lies in whisking. Here’s a fool-proof recipe:
Melt 5 tbsp of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 4 tbsp all-purpose flour and stir continuously for 6-7 minutes over medium heat until the mixture has a slightly golden or sand-like colour.
Meanwhile heat about 4 cups of milk until it is just about to boil. If you wish, you can flavour the milk by adding herbs and spices such as parsley, fresh bay leaves, peppercorns or a blade of mace. However, remember to strain the milk before adding it to the roux.
Now add a cup of milk to the flour mixture and stir constantly until the flour blends with the milk completely.
Continue to add the remaining milk one cup at a time, stirring between each addition until the sauce is smooth. Bring it to a boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and season with salt and a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg. I can assure you the end result will be silky smooth sauce. If you still have doubts and think that the sauce might have lumps, pass it through a fine sieve before serving.
If you want to make the sauce in advance or have excess and would like to store the extra, then place a cling film directly on the surface of the sauce to prevent a ‘skin’ from forming and then refrigerate it. Do not freeze the sauce. This sauce does not have a long life so try to finish it within a week.
Add some warm milk or cream to the cold sauce when you wish to use it again as the sauce could have thickened while in the fridge.
What is chiffonade?
Chiffonade is a French word. It is a cutting technique that mainly applies to herbs or leafy vegetables that have llarge leaves, for example basil aand spinach. The leaves are ffirst placed in a stack, then rrolled up tightly and then the rroll is cut crosswise into very thin slices. The end result is thin strips or shreds that are perfect for garnishing or in a salad. The reason this technique does not work for leaves that have a very small or uneven surface is because you will not be able to stack or roll such leaves so it’ll be difficult to get fine shreds.