It’s all rather whizzing by at breakneck pace. This is the last week of school and probably the last week I can get my work finished before I need to brace myself and get stuck into an epic session of tidying and cooking. I don’t much mind the latter, but I detest housework, so I’m not looking forward to that and the dust bunnies are trembling in fear already 🙁
In fact, you probably already know that I quite enjoy cooking. Yesterday’s roast pig was pretty good, though I say so myself, with bubbly, crispy crackling, lots of veggies, including sprouts, which I love, and a nice mustard sauce, rather than boring gravy.
Today’s gift from me to you are some tips on making sauces and a recipe for the mustard sauce, but as I’m sure you can’t wait to see today’s card, I’ll put those below 🙂
On that saucy note, today’s deck is the Vintage Erotica (aka Le Tarot de Femmes Erotiques). I think we need some gratuitous nudity on a Monday morning, don’t you? Today’s card is the Novice of Swords, subtitled The Scholar.
Well, she’s fairly demure compared with some of the cards and it’s just as well I opted to draw from the top of the deck instead of just looking at the bottom card as usual. That would have been the 9 of Cups, “Happiness” and resplendent with bushes of all kinds, particularly the ladybeard variety!
I’ll be very surprised if I don’t get at least one book for Christmas. We’re quite big on books in this family and I’ll certainly be giving a few out as gifts 🙂
As for whether I’ll be getting my baps out…probably not in public and certainly not for the camera, though if there’s snow, I may come over all Scandiwegian and go out for a nudey roll about in it while it’s fresh. Most invigorating ;D
As for those rather suspicious looking leaves…well, I don’t do that kind of thing any more 😀
So back to more literal sauciness. There are two ways to make your own gravies and sauces (other than using something out of a packet, which is just cheating and usually not very nice). There is the quick and easy method using cornflour as a thickener and the lardier roux method, where you fry flour in butter first, then gradually add the liquid.
Cornflour must be mixed with cold water/milk initially, but you can speed up the process by just using a little cold liquid, then add hot liquid (stirring constantly) once you have a smooth starter mixture. This starts the thickening process and prevents lumps forming, especially if you’re using the microwave to heat it up. I use this method for gravies mostly. It’s quick, easy and low fat, just remember to sir regularly.
The roux method differs in that it is best to add hot liquid to the flour mixture to prevent lumps forming. It makes much nicer creamy sauces and I use it for cheese sauce, béchamel and the aforementioned mustard sauce, sometimes gravy too if it’s a special occasion. If you want a really rich giblet gravy for your Christmas turkey, then this is the way to go. Add the liquid a little at a time and stir constantly to obtain a smooth sauce.
These are just the flour-based sauces, of course, and there are also egg-thickened sauces like custard and hollandaise, which are a whole different kettle of ballgames, since getting the degree of heat right in order to avoid making scrambled egg is the key factor here. However, with all of these methods, continuous stirring is absolutely paramount if you want to avoid lumpiness in your sauce.
In my usual informal method, I will not be too specific with weights and measures, as it is fairly flexible, depending on how much you want to make and how thick you want it to be.
Melt a decent-sized knob of butter in a pan (oh, OK, call it 1oz, for starters), add a tablespoon or so of plain flour and fry until bubbly, stirring with a wooden spoon. The mixture should have a smooth paste-like consistency. If it is too solid, you’ll have trouble adding the liquid, so add some more butter; if it’s too runny, your sauce won’t be thick enough, so add more flour.
Add a tablespoon of English mustard powder and a tablespoon of wholegrain mustard and stir. Then slowly add whole milk. Either heat the milk through first or add it a tiny bit at a time, allowing it to heat up in the pan before stirring it into the roux. Keep stirring and adding milk slowly, (it gets easier as the volume increases), smoothing out any lumps using the back of the wooden spoon, until the desired consistency for the sauce is reached. Once there is a fair amount of liquid, you can also add a bay leaf. Add salt and white pepper and a pinch of sugar. Taste, adjust seasoning and add more mustard/mustard powder if desired.
This is a lovely sauce to accompany pork or salmon.
Substitute a quantity of cheese for the wholegrain mustard and you have cheese sauce (retain the mustard powder as it brings out the flavour of the cheese). Enjoy!