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Thursday, 22 April 2010

Back To Basics: Basic Sauce Recipes

For an in depth understanding of sauces, take a look at the previous post:
Understanding sauces - a background and all there is to know

Basic Tomato Sauce
Makes 1 1/2 Cups | Easy
Always use really ripe tomatoes for preparing tomato sauces as they are sweeter and fuller in flavour. This sauce is the base for many recipes and is very handy to make in advance and freeze.

You Need

12 Tomatoes, peeled
2 small onions, chopped
1 tbsp Extra Virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup red wine or red grape vinegar
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano, basil or marjoram
Freshly ground black pepper & salt to taste

Blanch your tomatoes and peel them (score tomato skins, place in a saucepan of boiling water, cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and place in cold water for 30 seconds. peel skin off.) 
Chop the tomatoes reserving the juices.

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan over medium- high heat. Add crushed garlic and onion and cook till tender. Add the tomato, herbs, salt and pepper then cook for 2 minutes. Add reserved juices and wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and leave sauce to simmer for 35 minutes.

Remove from heat and place in a clean non-metal container, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. 
If you want to store tomato sauce for longer, divide into portion size and freeze for up to 4 months. Thaw and use when needed.

  • After cooking the tomato sauce, do not store in any metal container or saucepan. the acid in the tomato may react with the metal.
  • Some prefer removing seeds from the tomatoes before cooking. it is entirely up to you to keep or remove the tomato seeds.
  • If the tomatoes are sharp or acidic in taste add a pinch or two of sugar and they will taste a bit sweeter.
  • Do not let garlic and onion brown as that will affect the final flavour and colour of the sauce.
  • You can use canned tomatoes instead of fresh tomatoes if desired. canned tomatoes make for a sweeter and thicker sauce and take less time to prepare as you do not need to blanch and peel them and they simmer for 20 minutes instead of 35 minutes.

White Sauce
Makes 1 1/2 cups | Easy

White Sauce is a base for many recipes. This recipe is a white sauce recipe with medium consistency used for creamed dishes and is also a base for other cream-based recipes.

You Need
2tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups Milk
Salt and pepper to taste
a pinch of nutmeg

Make a Roux: Melt butter in a saucepan (make sure it is all melted before adding the flour). Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Cook and stir over low heat until well combined.

Once butter and flour are combined without lumps, slowly add all the milk in a thin continuous stream constantly stirring to evenly blend the roux and milk.

Cook and stir the mix over medium heat until mixture is thickened and bubbling across the entire surface. Cook stirring for 1 more minute to completely cook the flour in the sauce. Sprinkle the nutmeg and stir to infuse.

  • To prevent lumps from forming make sure the butter is all melted before adding the flour and keep stirring constantly. If lumps do form, beat the sauce briskly with a wire whisk or using a rotary beater.
  • Never leave the sauce during cooking, and if you must make sure you take it off the heat.
  • Cook sauces over medium-low heat for no longer than the specified time. High heat and long cooking cause the sauce to curdle or separate.
  • To thin a white sauce for use in cream soups or creamed vegetables add 1/2 cup of milk to the recipe above and prepare in the same way as the above recipe.
  • Flavour sauces with spices, cheeses, herbs...etc. according to the final dish flavours.
  • Nutmeg and powdered white pepper go especially well with white sauces.

Let's chat - These two are the most basic and most used sauces across the board. Every Cuisine uses one of these or a version of either in their cooking. Do you have another sauce that you are always using? Do you and your family have a go-to sauce that you love and use to make a quick and easy recipe? I have Tahina Sauce to thank for that. When am stuck for ideas, or when am looking to quickly make a dish or change a dish I just cook it in Tahina Sauce. This way yesterday's leftover chicken becomes today's all new Chicken and vegetables in Tahina Sauce! What's your quick sauce cheat?