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

Friday - - Leisure - ● Have a ques­tion for Sil­vena? Email her at Fri­ with ‘Do­mes­tic Diva’ men­tioned in the sub­ject line.

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.

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