Bechamel Sauce and Spinach Au Gratin

Sauces can be formal and historical, such as the French “mother” sauces: velouté (white stock-based sauce thickened with flour), béchamel (milk-based white sauce), Espagnole (brown stock-based sauce), allemande (velouté augmented with egg yolk and cream), and emulsion sauces like Hollandaise, mayonnaise, and vinaigrette.   Sauces should enhance the flavor of the dish, not overwhelm it.  Often, a quick and simple sauce can be created in a pan of sautéed chicken, pork … Continue reading

Brunch Recipes

Brunch is an easy and informal way to entertain over the holidays because so much can be made ahead, leaving only details for the last minute.  Our favorite banana bread and blueberry muffins can be made even a week before and frozen, thawed the day before the event.  Pie crust for quiche can be made a week ahead and frozen, or the day before and refrigerated, to  roll, fill and … Continue reading

Recommended Books About Food

The day before Christmas, and for those of you haven’t quite finished shopping, here are some last minute gift suggestions for anyone interested in food.  The following are among my favorite books, all published within the last few years, and all well-written, informative and most of them entertaining. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver is the true story of her family’s recent exodus from dry and dusty Tucson to the … Continue reading

Balancing Flavors

Imagine a dinner plate filled with nothing but white food: slices of chicken or turkey, steamed cauliflower, mashed potatoes.  Boring, at best.  The same can be said for a plate full of all sweet flavors, boring and cloying; or all sour flavors, boring and mouth-puckering.  Successful cooking is not only about creating layers of flavor, the subject of last week’s column, but also about incorporating and balancing a variety of … Continue reading