A ‘Demi-Glace’ is a very rich sauce that is itself used as a base for other sauces in traditional classic French cuisine. At one time, it would be expected to be one of the essential skills for a chef to master but it seems to be far less commonly employed than was once the case. Indeed, back in the day, when I had quite a few jobs in the food service industry, I can recall only one chef actually making his own. A few kitchens used commercially prepared concentrates in lieu of the real thing, and the rest seemed unconscious of its existence.
Part of the reason for the decline in usage is, I am sure, that the traditional preparation is so dauntingly complex as to be intimidating, and actually requires such time and expense to make it impractical for the home cook. The basic form is the result of blending reduced brown stock with an Espagnole Sauce (which is itself based on brown sauce), and then further reducing it to a thick ‘half-glaze’. The result can then be used as the basis for many classic French sauces such as Bordelaise, or Sauce Robert, or else added to stews or ad hoc sauces for a major flavor infusion.
Anyway, the ponderous and complicated process of Escoffier’s day is now frequently supplanted by methods that dispense with the traditional Espagnole sauce and either thicken the basic stock with a light starch, or else rely entirely on reduction to concentrate and thicken. Today’s post is an experiment I tried in my own kitchen using the latter process, and which produced a pretty decent result …. Continue reading “A Port ‘Demi-Glace’”
I picked this little item up on a whim while shopping for other stuff. I don’t use pre-packaged sauce mixes all that frequently, nor do I use tofu often, but I have been curious about the classic Sichuan dish, Mapo Doufu (spelled ‘Mabo Tofu’ here), and I thought this might be an interesting way to experience it for the first time. The package states that you need to add nothing except ground meat and tofu, and so I used nothing else myself except for just a little scallion… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Ma-Po Tofu Sauce Mix”
For years, I have been making a shrimp curry dish that incorporates Indian spices, along with fermented shrimp paste, in a tomato based sauce. The sauce is something I have always made on an ‘ad hoc’ basis, but I have long wanted to try a ‘make-ahead’ sauce that could be used to quickly put together a nice Shrimp curry, or even be used as a sauce with other meats or vegetables. I finally got around to doing it just a few days ago… Continue reading “Spicy Shrimp Sauce”
‘Salsa Cruda’, in Italian cookery, is simply a term that means ‘raw sauce’. As such, in can, in theory, be composed of just about anything, but the basic version is usually a blend of chopped tomatoes in olive oil with garlic and basil. You can of course, jazz it up with whatever herbs or raw vegetables you like and, for today’s recipe, I have used several additional ingredients beyond the basic.
Mostly, a salsa cruda is used as a pasta sauce, as I have done here, but it could also be prepared as a topping for Bruschetta, a side for cold cuts or raw vegetables, or even as a ‘relish’ to use in sandwiches… Continue reading “Pasta Salsa Cruda”
My typical way of serving Shrimp Cocktail (not that I do very often), is to lay tiny cocktail shrimp on a bed of shredded lettuce and top it with a creamy mayonnaise based cocktail sauce enhanced with horseradish and chili sauce. Today, I have departed from my usual style and combined the shrimp and sauce, then served it in hollowed out tomato halves. For either version, frozen cocktail shrimp are best but you can, as I have done here, use the canned variety as a decent substitute… Continue reading “Shrimp Salad Boats”
Today’s post is just a little dish I created using some of my home-made Ratatouille. It isn’t a particularly original idea, but the Ratatouille recipe is my own and the combination here works very nicely.
Just cook pasta as you normally would, reserving a little of the pasta water when you drain, and then sauté the pasta with a splash of oil before adding good ‘dollop’ of Ratatouille and a bit of the pasta cooking water. As the water cooks down a bit, you can form a really nice sauce. This version I made was very tasty with some Parmesan cheese added on serving, but a bit more of the Ratatouille would have been better 😊
As I had some nice fresh Basil on hand, I wanted to put together a Pesto, primarily for use as a pasta sauce. I also wanted to do something a little different than the usual Genoese style with garlic and pine-nuts and I decided to use green olives and green Jalapeno for a tangier, spicier result. The name I came up with, Pesto Piccante, has, it turns out already been used before and , when I searched the name on line I found some (mainly commercial) productions that are tomato based, and look very much to me like Italian variations of Salsa.
Well, screw it … I am going to use the name anyway … Continue reading “Pesto Piccante”
Eel Sauce is a Japanese preparation sometimes known as ‘Nitsume’ or ‘Kabayaki Sauce’. While it is quite commonly used as a glaze for grilled eel dishes (indeed, the ‘Unagi’ on the bottle label means the freshwater eel commonly appearing on sushi menus), the name arises because it was traditionally made by making a stock by boiling eels and reducing it to a syrupy consistence. Nowadays, sugar, Mirin, sake and soy sauce are all commonly used in the basic recipe and Dashi often replaces eel stock.
I often think of Eel Sauce as being the Japanese equivalent of Chinese Oyster Sauce and the two can be used almost interchangeably. Indeed, the taste is very similar, although, some varieties, especially those made with Dashi, have a slightly smoky taste that goes very well with grilled foods… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Eel Sauce”
I first put together the prototype of this sauce for use as a condiment with some grilled lamb skewers. I liked the result very much and, since making the first batch, I began to think of other ways it might be used. It is very simple to make as well as being versatile, so I thought I would share the basic recipe with you today… Continue reading “Mint-Jalapeño Salsa”
Years ago, I was intending to make Plum Sauce, but ended up using cantaloupe as there were no decent plums available at the time. In fact, other fruits are often substituted for the plums in commercial versions of the sauce and, ‘VH’ , the brand with which I am most familiar, while containing some plums, actually lists pumpkin as the primary fruit ingredient.
Last week, when the urge to whip up a batch came over me again, I could have chosen plums, if I wanted, as there were some nice ones available but, instead, I opted for cantaloupe again. The end result is every bit as good as using the traditional plum (hard to tell apart, in fact), and it is a good deal simpler to slice and dice a single melon than it is to peel and destone a crap-load of individual plums… Continue reading “Home-made Cantaloupe Sauce”