Fine Food Sauces Fast
A grilled chop, stir-fried chicken, poached fish or a scoop of ice-cream become, with very little extra trouble, something rather grand once they have a sauce to cheer them up. We’re not talking about that family of sauces that takes an age to prepare; demi-glace, hollandaise, sabayon and many others all hold an important place in classical cooking, but they’re strictly for no-hurry days. The kind of sauces we’re thinking about can be put together from your store cupboard ingredients plus the occasional exotic item that is easily obtained from any good delicatessen or supermarket, so many of which now carry excellent ranges of imported and locally produced Asian and Middle Eastern foodstuffs.
Sauces have come a long way since the days when they were used to disguise a multitude of sins. For centuries the world over, sauces or savoury relishes made up for what the shortcomings of transit and storage had done to meat, fish and other highly perishable items. Today, refrigeration and rapid transport have taken care of those problems, and sauces have become a way to enhance food without masking its natural flavour, and most importantly in these health-conscious times, to make it more nutritious.
A food processor or blender comes into its own where today’s simple sauces are concerned, making light work of what was once a laborious task. If you have neither, it’s a good idea to buy a moulilegume, a sieve with varying-sized discs through which food can be pureed to the required consistency. They are inexpensive and hard-wearing.
A couple of the recipes featured require chicken stock; this can be made from a stock cube, but if you do have some spare time one evening or during a weekend, it’s worth taking the trouble to make a batch of the real thing, freezing it in small quantities for use in soups and sauces when time is definitely not on your side. See the recipe for home-made chicken stock after the Garlic Ginger Sauce.
Similarly, there’s nothing quite like home-made mayonnaise. The easy recipe following the Creamy Curry Sauce is delicious and will keep for about 10 days stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
All the recipes given here are very versatile and the suggestions given for their use are just a guide. No doubt you’ll find they solve your cooking problems on many occasions.
If sauces are something you’ve always relegated to the too-hard basket, think again. Kay Francis has devised some simple yet stunning recipes that tum the ordinary into a special treat. And they’ll team with an array of entrees, main courses and desserts .
Serving suggestion: This sauce and the Yoghurt Sauce served with stir-fried prawns, calamari and baby octopus that were all marinated for 2-3 hours in a glass or ceramic dish in lime juice and olive oil before cooking.
- 1 bunch watercress
- 3 green shallots, chopped
- 1 cup chopped fresh dill
- 1 can anchovy fillets, drained
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 tablespoon capers, drained
- 1 tablespoon canned green peppercorns, drained
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Discard any yellow leaves and root ends from the watercress.
- Wash and chop roughly.
- Place watercress, shallots and dill in a food processor and chop finely.
- Add anchovies, garlic, capers, peppercorns and lemon juice and process until smooth.
- With the machine running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream.
- Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Makes 1 1/2 cups.
This sauce would be good served with kebabs that were cut from 1kg round steak and marinated overnight in a ceramic or glass dish in 213 cup white wine vinegar.
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons grated green ginger
- 4 carrots, peeled and finely diced
- 6 green shallots, sliced
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 1/2 cup chicken stock (from a cube, or home-made)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano Paprika
- 1/2 cup Italian parsley; finely chopped
- Place the oil in a large saucepan and saute the garlic, ginger and carrots for about 10 minutes.
- Add the shallots and cook a further 2 minutes.
- Add the wine, stock, oregano and paprika and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
- Place in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
- Add parsley and season to taste.
- Serve hot with meat dishes.
- Serving suggestion: The photograph shows this sauce used with kebabs that were cut from 1kg round steak and marinated overnight in a ceramic or glass dish in 213 cup white wine vinegar, ~
Here are some handy items to keep in your home:
TO STORE ON PANTRY SHELVES
Almonds: Raw, flaked
Anchovies: Canned, flat
Apricot conserve: For glazing fruits and desserts
Artichokes: Canned hearts and bottoms
Asparagus: Canned, whole green spears
Bean sprouts: Canned
Bouillon, beef: Canned
Capers: Refrigerate after opening
Cashews: Raw, unsalted
Caviar: Refrigerate after opening
Chestnut puree: Canned, unsweetened
Chillies: Bottled whole; sauce
Chocolate: Dark cooking; white
Condensed milk: Canned, unsweetened
Corn: Canned, whole baby spears
Crab meat: Canned
Dried fruits: Apples, apricots, peaches, plums, raisins, sultanas
Flours: White, plain and self-raising; tobolemeal; plain and self-raising
Gelatine: Powdered and leaf
Gherkins: Refrigerate after opening
Glace fruits: Apricots, pineapple, ginger
Honey: Clear or creamed
Mushrooms: Canned, small button; dried
Mustards: Dijon, English, French, lemon Mustard seeds and mustard powder
Oils: Grapeseed, olive, peanut, safflower, sesame, walnut
Olives: Bottled, black and green. Refrigerate after opening
Oyster sauce: Bottled
Pasta: A selection of dried and frozen
Peppercorns: Green, white and black
Pinenuts: Replace regularly
Redcurrant jelly: For glazing, bottled
Rice: Brown, long grain; white, long grain; wild, for special occasions
Salt: Rock, celery
Sesame seeds: Unhulled
Soups: Canned asparagus, oyster, chicken, consomme
Soy sauce: Bottled
Stock cubes: Chicken, beef, onion, bacon
Sugar: Caster, soft brown, raw, icing
Sunflower seeds: For decoration
Tahina: Store in fridge after opening
Tomatoes, canned, and tomato paste
Treacle and golden syrup
Vinegars: Malt, white wine, red wine, cider; Balsamic, raspberry
Walnuts: Halves and pieces
Wheatgerm: For coating and baking
FRUIT AND VEGETABLES
Celery: Store in fridge
Chives: Store in a sealed container in fridge
Garlic: Keep at room temperature
Lemons and limes
Lettuce: Wash and drain, store in plastic bag in fridge
Mushrooms: Store in porous wrapping in fridge. Use up quickly
Onions: Store at room temperature in well-ventilated position
Parsley: Store in a sealed container in fridge
Potatoes: Store in well-ventilated dark position
Shallots: Green and brown. Store in fridge
Tomatoes: Store at room temperature
Zucchini: Store in fridge
TO STORE IN FREEZER
Bacon: Rewrap into packs of 4 slices
Berry fruits: A variety
Bread and rolls: An assortment
Pizza bases: Sold in packets of 3
Sheet pastry: Puff, short and fillo
Stocks: Beef, chicken, fish
TO STORE IN REFRIGERATOR
Butter: Salted, unsalted, ghee
Cheeses: Parmesan, grated cheddar, ricotta, brie or camembert. Leave at room temperature before serving
Eggs: Always keep a few at room temperature for baking Mayonnaise
HERBS AND SPICES
Keep an assortment of small quantities (flavor fades with time) of dried herbs and spices. Collect these with the weekly shop and your range will soon broaden. Basil, bayleaves, cinnamon, chilli powder, curry powder, ginger, marjoram, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, tarragon, thyme, turmeric and whole fenugreek are just a few to start with. Grow your own favourites such as parsley, mint, chives, basil, dill and coriander.
This is often the secret ingredient that transforms the dull into the delicious. Brandy, dry sherry, dry white wine, red wine, Grand Marnier, Kirsch, Kahlua or Tia Maria, Marsala and rum are useful .
About the author: Frank Caye is a food expert and writer on Restaurants of Sydney – find his recommended restaurants in The City Web Guide Australia