Update 12, Part 2: New Year's Goal: Become an "official" Gourmess by August 2010

I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate. --Julia Child

Hooray! I fiinished up the Sauces session this weekend, starting with Sauce Béchamel, which was pretty easy and involved making a roux with butter and flour, then adding whole milk until thick and then seasoning with salt, cayenne pepper and fresh grated nutmeg. Luckily, I brought some nutmeg back from our trip to Grenada, so was all set with that. It is amazing how different fresh grated nutmeg smells from the store-bought kind. I read that a lot of people use this sauce as a main ingredient in lasagna...odd, but I can see that it would make it very rich, so maybe I will try it next time I'm feeling saucy.

Next, I made Thickened Stock by adding Madeira wine and cornstarch. Madeira wine is a kind of dessert wine from Portugal. Chris, being the wine expert found me some (thanks!). It was neat to see the cornstarch thicken the sauce so quickly...adding the wine to it made a "slurry," which I then whisked into the stock.

After that, I tried Sauce Chasseur (Hunter Sauce), which required some of the thickened stock and tomato sauce from earlier. It also used button mushrooms, cognac, white wine, chervil and tarragon. I got to flambée the cognac, which made me a bit nervous, but was pretty painless actually. The sauce has a nice, rich taste, and I think it would go well with a nice beef dish or venison. (Forget the meat--I almost stood over the stove and ate up all of it straight from the pan!)

Sunday a.m.--actually p.m. beacause we slept in and then had to change the clocks ahead-- I tried Sauce Hollandaise and made us some Eggs Benedict to try it out, since that's one of Chris's favorite brunch dishes. I didn't have Canadian Bacon for the dish, so just used regular bacon, which was fine. He seemed to like it, but he also said it needed more lemon and could have been a bit thicker. Probably -- I didn't really enjoy making this...to be honest. The book says this should only take 15 mins, but I had to also make clarified butter, so it took longer. Plus, it seemed like I beat my egg yolks forever over the bain-marie to make a light, airy sabayon to get it a nice consistency, and then I had to beat in 14 TBS of clarified butter. (P.S. I used 2.5 sticks of butter for this dish!)

After that, to finish up this session, I made Sauce Bérnaise, which involved reducing a sauce of water, white wine vinegar, shallots, ground peppercorns and tarragon and then adding to two egg yolks and whisking again over a bain-marie to create a sabayon, and then beating in the clarified butter and also some tarragon and chervil at the end. This will go well with salmon or a nice egg dish, too. (But again, 2.5 sticks of butter!)

So, I have a fridge/freezer full of sauces and will have to figure out where to use them. I think some future sessions will require some of them, but for now, it's a bit daunting to open the door and see them all there.

Anyway, next I move on to Session 5, which is Preserving Food.

Stay tuned!