‘Tis the season, as Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanza are around the corner and we will be welcoming visits with family and friends, plus ringing in a new year. The scents of the season are part of “those favorite things.” Cookies are baking and bread is rising, recipes are created and shared as generations come together to celebrate during this holiday season.
November’s article highlighted basic sauce recipes that create the foundation for future meals. We are taking this one step further and using the basic sauces to enhance some interesting meals.
“Bordelaise Sauce” is great with grilled steak and ground beef patties. It was one of my favorites to make when raising a young family, because it made plain hamburger meat taste like something special. Great on mashed potatoes, egg noodles and rice. In a way it expanded the menu without expanding the budget. These recipes use the “brown sauce” featured in last month’s article:
1 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 Tbs. Butter
2 shallots finely minced
1/2-cup dry red wine (Bordeaux or Cabernet Sauvignon)
1/2-cup Brown Sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare your favorite meat (steak or hamburger patty), cover and keep warm. Heat the olive oil and butter in your skillet over low to medium heat, and then add the chopped shallots. Sauté the shallots until they are opaque (translucent) in color. Add the wine and simmer until the liquid is reduced by one-fourth. Add the brown sauce and continue simmering over low heat for about 3 to 5 minutes.
If you grilled your steak, add the sauce to the bottom of the plate and then place your steak on top. If you are serving the hamburger patty, add the sauce to the top.
This recipe serves 1 to 2 people. As your group increases increase the ingredients.
Wine Merchant’s Sauce
(Sauce Marchand de Vin)
3 Tbs. Butter
3 Tbs. Minced shallots
3/4-cup dry red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, or Pinot Noir)
3/4-cup Brown Sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
This recipe is similar to the Bordelaise sauce. However, the ingredients are different in the type of wines used. Heat two tablespoons of the butter in a small heavy saucepan on medium heat. Add the minced shallots and cook until tender but not brown. Add the red wine and reduce the sauce over high heat to one-half original amount. Stir in the Brown Sauce, bring to a boil and simmer for several minutes, just before serving add the additional tablespoon of butter, salt and pepper to taste.
This is a great sauce with beef, venison, grilled or poached swordfish, halibut and turbot. Makes one cup of sauce, enough to serve 4 (about 1/4-cup for each serving).
For a stay-at-home romantic meal, or New Year’s Eve celebration, pop open the bubbly and prepare “Steak Diane.” This recipe is easy, simple and delicious:
12 ounces of steak, either boneless sirloin, large filet, or four 3-oz filet mignon, 1-inch thick
1-2 Tbs. butter
1/2-Tsp. minced shallots
2 Tbs. Cognac
2 Tbs. Dry Sherry
1 Tbs. A-1 Sauce (optional, not required - only if you want a zip)
1/2-Tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4-cup Brown Sauce
2 Tbs. sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbs. minced fresh parsley
If you are using one large piece of meat or the filets, grill to your preference (rare, medium, etc.), set aside and keep warm on a platter. In a medium-size sauté pan under medium heat, add the butter, put a drizzle of olive oil in the pan this will prevent the butter from burning. Add minced shallots, sauté 1/2-minute, add cognac and sherry. Light the cognac and allow the alcohol to burn off. Stir in A-1 Sauce, mustard, Brown Sauce, sour cream, salt, and pepper to taste and minced parsley.
Place the grilled steaks into the sauce just to cover, not to boil. Place a couple of tablespoons of the sauce on the plate and add the steak on top, put the remaining sauce in a saucier (gravy boat).
The delightful mixture of flavors goes well with a hearty Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. Accompany this main dish with plain basmati rice, julienne green vegetables such as string beans, carrots, or turnips. Enjoy, and your time in the kitchen is minimum so you can get back to your celebration.
Butter sauces are easy to make and enhance numerous meals like seafood, poultry and vegetables. I use only sweet butter in my preparation. It is easier to add salt than it is taking this spice away. A rule of thumb is to use small amounts of any spice and add more for further taste enhancement, especially what appeals to your palate. “White Butter Sauce,” or “Sauce Beurre Blanc,” can be chilled, wrapped in foil in the shape of a roll and frozen, to be used later with broiled fish. Serve this marvelous sauce with sautéed, broiled, poached fish, mousses and terrines of fish.
White Butter Sauce
(Sauce Beurre Blanc)
1 Tsp. finely chopped shallots
2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
6 Tbs. Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, or Sauvignon Blanc
4 Tbs. heavy cream
1/2 lb. sweet butter (2 sticks) cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Salt and ground pepper to taste
Add shallots, white wine vinegar, and white wine in a saucepan (do not use aluminum pan) and cook over high heat until mixture is reduced by one-half. Reduce heat to low and add cream and bring to a boil. Add butter piece by piece, stirring constantly in a circular motion with a wisk or wooden spoon. Sauce should coat spoon lightly. It is not as heavy as a cream sauce, but is an emulsion, which is to be fluffy or frothy. This sauce should be smooth and velvety in texture. This sauce should be prepared one hour prior to serving, not any longer. If the sauce starts to separate, use your whisk or hand wand beater to make smooth again. Add additional cream, if needed to bring this sauce to its velvet texture. This recipe serves about four people or makes about 2 to 3 cups.
You can change the taste of this sauce by adding one tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs (tarragon, basil or chives).
“Clarified Butter” is used when making Hollandaise Sauce and is called for in the preparation of delicate cakes. Clarified Butter can also be kept on hand for sautéing meats, seafood, fish, and poultry, as it can be heated without burning to a much higher temperature than butter. Unsalted butter is best to use because there is less water than salted butter. It is, however more perishable and should be kept well sealed in the refrigerator or freezer. Making clarified butter is easy:
- Slowly melt butter on low heat in a heavy pan. After butter has melted, it will look as clear as olive oil and milk solids will have sunk to the bottom of the pan.
- Skim off white froth on top of melted butter, and discard. Carefully pour butter into another container, leaving white milk solids behind in the pan. To ensure that the butter is completely clear, it can be strained through cheesecloth.
Clarified butter will keep for weeks without developing an off flavor if kept airtight — it is the soured milk solids that cause butter to go rancid. Here is an easy recipe for making homemade Hollandaise Sauce in your blender:
4 egg yolks
1/8 Tsp. freshly ground white pepper
4 Tbs. very hot water
1-3/4 cup Clarified Butter
2-3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
- Place egg yolks and white pepper in blender or food process. Cover and process briefly, or blend at low speed for one minute. Add very hot water slowly with motor running, and then add warm clarified butter in a thin stream. (If necessary, increase speed of blender to make sauce thicken-it should be just thick enough to coat the food).
- Add lemon juice a little at a time, tasting for correct amount of tartness.
Leftover Hollandaise can be refrigerated for several days and reheated in a double boiler. If it curdles, add about 1 tablespoon of cold water. Always use opposite temperature to correct this condition-hot against cold or vice versa.
Serve this great sauce with vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, artichokes; broiled or poached fish such as salmon, sole, whitefish, or your favorite seafood combination. This recipe makes about 2-1/4 cups. For Mustard Sauces, add one-tablespoon Dijon-style mustard, one-tablespoon white wine to one cup of prepared Hollandaise Sauce.
Altering the basic Hollandaise Sauce recipe can create different tastes that compliment your vegetables or seafood dishes. For example, by adding three to four tablespoons fresh orange juice (preferably blood oranges); one-half teaspoon finely grated orange rind and two cups of prepared Hollandaise Sauce you create “Sauce Maltaise,” a great compliment to poached cauliflower, steamed or poached asparagus, artichokes, or broccoli. Combine orange juice and orange rind in saucepan, heat until the mixture forms a nice paste; fold in the orange paste into the freshly made Hollandaise Sauce. Enjoy!
I hope you will utilize your arsenal of new sauces to complement your holiday menu. The Truesdale family wishes to you, your family and friends the very best of this holiday season, and I will be ringing you next year with more interesting ideas!