Don’t be daunted by that diva demeanour – Friday’s very own chef Silvena Rowe is happy to answer all your kitchen queries
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 Friday@gulfnews.com. Please write ‘Domestic Diva’ in the subject line of your email.
Poppadom rolls are easy when you know how