Don’t be daunted by that diva de­meanour – Fri­day’s very own chef Sil­vena Rowe is happy to an­swer all your kitchen queries

Friday - - Good Food -

Q How do I make lump-free béchamel sauce and will it keep?

A The se­cret to mak­ing great béchamel or white sauce is stay­ing with it – you can’t leave it unat­tended. Here’s a fool­proof way to make silky smooth sauce:

First, keep two cups of warm milk next to you. Next, heat 4 tbsp of but­ter in a heavy bot­tomed, non-stick saucepan un­til it be­gins to bub­ble. Add 2 tbsp of plain flour to the but­ter and stir con­stantly us­ing a wooden spat­ula un­til it be­gins to turn slightly brown and soaks up all the but­ter. This will take only a few min­utes.

Next, add a splash of milk and stir vig­or­ously. As the flour be­gins to soak up all the milk, add an­other splash. Con­tinue the process un­til the mix­ture has a thick bat­ter-like con­sis­tency and you’ve used up one cup of milk. Take the saucepan off the heat and im­me­di­ately add an­other cup of milk. Whisk vig­or­ously. This will en­sure that there are no lumps in the sauce.

Put the saucepan back on the heat and con­tinue to stir un­til the sauce be­gins to thicken and coats the back of the wooden spat­ula. Take it off the heat and sea­son with salt and pep­per.

To store the sauce, pour it into a jar and place a piece of grease-proof paper di­rectly over it to en­sure that a skin does not form. Let it cool down to room tem­per­a­ture and then re­frig­er­ate it. Do not freeze it as it will cur­dle. I would rec­om­mend that you use the sauce within three to four days.

This is a ba­sic recipe for béchamel sauce, but you can flavour it with grated cheese, herbs or nut­meg.

Q I love the dif­fer­ent shapes chefs in In­dian restaurants give to pop­padoms. How can I do this at home?

A I agree – those pop­padom cones and bas­kets are amaz­ing, and if you were to serve an ap­pe­tiser in them, your din­ner par­ties would def­i­nitely be the talk of the town. Here’s how:

To make a pop­padom cone, cut a lentil pop­padom (my favourite is the one with black pep­per in it) in half. Warm a grid­dle pan over high heat, then place one half of the pop­padom on it. The mo­ment the pop­padom be­gins to turn opaque, it’s cooked on one side. Flip it over and cook the other side. This process will take about a minute.

Re­move from pan and im­me­di­ately bring the cor­ners to­gether to form a cone. Place it in a nar­row glass so it re­tains its shape. Once it cools, it will keep its shape and you can then use it as a shell to serve salad or a dry starter in. If you want to make the cones in ad­vance, store them in an air­tight container the mo­ment they cool down and harden. This is vi­tal to main­tain their crunch­i­ness.

To make pop­padom rolls like the ones on the left, which I’ve made to go with my cur­ries in ear­lier pages, warm a grid­dle pan over high heat, place a whole pop­padom on it and flip over once it’s cooked on one side. Cook the other side then re­move from the pan.

While it is still hot, roll it into a pipe shape. Hold the shape for a few sec­onds, al­low­ing the pop­padom to cool down slightly. Let it go once the pop­padom hard­ens.

Do you have a ques­tion for Sil­vena?

Email her at Fri­ Please write ‘Do­mes­tic Diva’ in the sub­ject line of your email.

Pop­padom rolls are easy when you know how

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